by Alan McArthur
When voters go to the polling booth next Tuesday in Platte County, both the Republican party and the Democrat party will offer a choice in the primary election for first district county commissioner.
Running for the seat on the Republican ticket are Kathy Dusenbery and Jeff Jones. On the Democrat side, Michelle Wilson is facing William Quitmeier.
Not running is the incumbent, Tom Pryor, Republican, who after initially filing for reelection pulled out for what he said was a decision to spend more time with his family and on his business.
Kathy Dusenbery has decided to run for the commission seat after giving up her position as mayor of Parkville this year.
According to Dusenbery, she has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in journalism and is currently a small business owner and freelance journalist. Dusenbery also previously served as an alderman from Parkville.
When asked why she is running for the commission seat, Dusenbery said, “I decided to run for first district commissioner because in the past four years there have been issues that needed to be addressed regionally,” said Dusenbery. “I worked on these issues for not only Parkville but for the residents of Platte County. I have successfully lobbied for funds for road improvements to the tune of over $24 million dollars for the widening of 45 Hwy and the construction of a new bridge on 9 Hwy.”
For Dusenbery, the biggest challenge for Platte County is handling growth.
“Platte County has grown to a point where we can now be particular about what we want and where we want it,” said Dusenbery. “We must make sure that infrastructure is in place to accommodate any new growth. That was why getting the funding in place for the widening of 45 Highway was extremely important to me.”
Dusenbery said the most important goal for her if elected commissioner will be to preserve the beauty of Platte County while promoting economic development.
“I am the best candidate because I worked full-time as mayor for the City of Parkville and as commissioner my full attention will be given to being a full-time commissioner. My experience as an elected official in Parkville has exposed me to the public sector, the demands that are put on limited resources and the need to work within a limited budget. Serving as elected official also teaches you a lot of patience and how to build partnerships with people in order to address issues and solve problems.”
Dusenbery said she does not like the negative things said recently about her time as mayor of Parkville.
“I would like to add that I have tried to run a positive campaign,” said Dusenbery. “It is too bad that Jeff Jones has made false allegations regarding my record as Parkville Mayor. The facts are that Jones completed a building project in Parkville without city permits, in violation of the city code, which resulted in the flooding of neighbor's homes. A long battle ensued with the city, which resulted in Jones having to correct the problems he created, but only after wasting nearly $12,000 of tax dollars to make him conform to the law.”
Challenging Dusenbery is Jeff Jones, owner of Jones Construction and Remodeling. Jones said he graduated from Liberty High School and also took some courses at Maple Woods Community College.
“I am trying to offer something different,” said Jones. “I don't owe anyone anything and I'm trying to offer a fresh and different candidacy. We need to keep track of the people we put in office and I don't feel our needs are being met.”
Jones said the biggest challenge facing Platte County is to lower taxes and still bring in outside business to the county.
“I feel that if taxes keep going up then businesses will seek someplace else to build,” said Jones.
The most important goal for Jones if elected, is to represent his constituents.
“My top goal is to do the job the best I can,” said Jones. “I will seek the desires of the public and manifest them through the position.”
Jones said he wants voters to make a decision based on who they feel should take care of their money.
“I feel that although I have no political experience, voters need to look at the facts of my opponent and decide who they want to be in charge of their money,” said Jones.
On the Democrat ticket, William (Bill) Quitmeier and Michelle Wilson will square off.
Quitmeier is an attorney and has a bachelor's degree in economics and Juris Doctorate from the University of Kansas. He previously served as an alderman and mayor of Parkville.
According to Quitmeier, he decided to run for the commission seat because he wants to be a representative for neighborhoods.
“I have recently represented some of my neighbors to get the county to listen,” said Quitmeier. “I think we need to have a voice for neighborhoods on the commission. I want to be their voice on economic development issues as the county grows.”
Quitmeier said the biggest challenge facing Platte County is the zoning issues around the county.
“We need to come up with some different zoning for the county,” said Quitmeier. “We need to have smart growth. I think as we grow we need to maintain the quality of life and attract quality business to preserve green space.”
For Quitmeier, his top goal if elected is to maintain the green space and the quality of life for the county.
“We need to implement a plan where as the county grows we keep the open space and not destroy the quality of life,” said Quitmeier. “I have a track record of creating park land while mayor of Parkville.”
Quitmeier said voters should elect him because he will be their voice and not needlessly spend their tax dollars.
“I really believe we must treat tax dollars like our own dollars,” said Quitmeier. “People tend to spend other people's money easier. I will make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck.”
Michelle Wilson is running against Quitmeier on the Democrat ticket. Wilson is a consultant and teacher. She has a bachelor's degree and is in the process of getting a master's degree. Wilson was previously a Clay County central committeewoman.
Wilson said she is running because of the signs posted on property saying the commission is an abuser.
“The signs around the county talk about abuse and I am an advocate against abuse of any kind,” said Wilson. “I am for the people and not for big interest groups. I want to make sure everyone is heard and the people of the county are not taken advantage of.”
The large yellow signs are placed on property in Platte and Clay Counties owned by Robert Bateman. The properties are generally along roadways that have required easements to be expanded.
Bateman has been represented by Quitmeier in a dispute over a proposed development called Bridle Parc near Weatherby Lake. The developer, James Owens, has been opposed by Bateman and a number of residents from the three abutting neighborhoods.
According to Wilson, the biggest challenge facing Platte County is maintaining the county's growth. Wilson said the county needs to avoid having vacant buildings, such as the former Hobby Lobby location along Highway 45, and continue to pursue smart development.
Wilson's goal if elected commissioner is to represent the people of the county.
“My goal is to look out for people, all the people, and make sure no one is abused or taken advantage of,” said Wilson. “I have no ties to any big business and am not a politician. I will not tell you something just to get elected. What I say is what I do. I want to make sure abuse is stopped anywhere and everywhere.”
The primary election is on Tuesday, Aug. 5. The winners will then face each other in November for the open commission seat.