by Alan McArthur
One of the most intriguing local races on next Tuesday’s ballot in Platte County is the battle for the first district county commission seat.
The race has two candidates and no incumbent, as current commissioner Tom Pryor chose not to seek reelection. The candidates are Kathy Dusenbery, Republican, and William Quitmeier, Democrat.
Both Dusenbery and Quitmeier were previously aldermen and mayor in Parkville.
Dusenbery was elected as an alderman in 1994 and was elected mayor in 2004. She left office in 2008 to seek the position of first district commissioner.
Dusenbery said she decided to run for the commissioner position because she saw a lot of issues that needed to be addressed and feels there is a need for someone to dedicate themselves full time to the position.
For Dusenbery, an issue facing the commission is reviewing the land use plan.
“People decided to move to the northern areas of the county to be in the country,” said Dusenbery. “I feel large developments should be in a municipality. The county should not be in the business of performing as a municipality.”
Dusenbery said she wants to work with citizens to review the current zoning.
Dusenbery said she also wants to do more work with economic development.
“We need to be working as hard as we can,” said Dusenbery. “I will work hand in hand with the economic development council.”
Dusenbery said that in the last four years, some funding for the Platte County Economic Development Council has been cut and she will look at possibly reinstating the original funding amount.
Dusenbery said the half cent parks sales tax that is due to expire in 2010 has benefited the county and that voters should decide if the tax should continue and at what rate.
Quitmeier says repeated attempts have been made to line up a debate between the two candidates, but Dusenbery has resisted.
“Kathy won’t debate me. I don’t think (Dusenbery’s campaign) has any issues. She can be nice and work a room, but she can’t debate the issues without getting emotional,” Quitmeier said.
Dusenbery maintains that she has never been contacted directly about a debate.
“I would have done it, but I would have sweated through it,” said Dusenbery. “I'm a problem solver and consensus builder, not into debating and arguing with people. (Voters) don't want a debater; they want someone to solve a problem for them.”
According to Dusenbery, she will spend all of her time being a county commissioner.
“I will put 100 percent of my efforts in being county commissioner and work full-time,” said Dusenbery. “I will work for Platte County. If I have the opportunity to work here, I will work as a team with the other commissioners.”
Quitmeier was an alderman at Parkville beginning in 1985 and became mayor in 1991. Quitmeier served as mayor until 2002.
Quitmeier said he thinks the planning and zoning staff should include a few land planners.
“I think we need to have land planners to work with developers and show a different way to be profitable,” said Quitmeier. “I have a vested interest in how the county develops to preserve land.”
Quitmeier said the county's land use plan should be based on topography and terrain. Quitmeier suggested an overlay district based on topography to show how land should be developed instead of changing zoning.
“Something has got to be changed with (the land use plan),” said Quitmeier. “We have to respect property rights.”
Quitmeier said he will be the voice of the community with the county commission.
“Every special interest group has a lobbyist, but the people don't get a lobbyist,” said Quitmeier.
Quitmeier said that if he elected, he will cut back his work at his law offices.
“I need my salary, but I can cut back my practices substantially,” said Quitmeier.
Quitmeier said that he will treat every tax dollar like it is his own and spend it responsibly.