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Wegner, Plunkett set to square off on Tuesday

(EDITOR'S NOTE: For Tuesday's complete local ballot, see the legal notices in Section B and also get a preview in the Between the Lines column on page A-2)

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Second District Platte County Commissioner Steve Wegner will pit his experience against opponent Jim Plunkett’s stated goal of letting the district's citizens voices be heard in the Republican primary election next Tuesday, Aug. 3.

“I have a vision and this county is growing. It needs someone that can listen and act and have a vision for the cities and unincorporated areas of the county,” said Wegner. “If we don’t stay ahead of the growth in the county, we’re going to create a huge problem in the future.”

According to Wegner, when he ran for office four years ago he stood by his platform of road improvements in the county and getting a land use plan in place, both of which the county has adopted.

Now four years later, Wegner’s main goals are to continue his work with the roads master plan, along with the parks and recreations plans, and to continue the county’s “conservative budget approach.”

“We’re in a huge undertaking with the roads master plan and the parks and recreation,” stated Wegner.

The roads master plan, which was adopted by the commission, is a 10-year bonded plan that will bring a gross revenue of $66 million at the end of the 10 years. The plan is funded by a 3/8 cents sales tax approved by the voters of Platte County.

According to Wegner, as a part of the roads plan the bridges that were deemed undesirable by the state and roads that need improvements in the unincorporated portion of the county are bonded. The City of Platte City, the City of Weston and the City of Kansas City also chose to have their money from the county bonded, while the remaining cities in Platte County will receive two payments a year.

Wegner stated the commission divided the funds for each city depending on population.

“I think it’s important to clarify that we’ll have all the bonds paid in seven to ten years and that all those bonds provided by the sales tax, the citizens have provided us,” said Wegner. “Yes the budget has grown, but the reason is because the voters told us they want the parks and recreation and roads improvements.”

The $60 million parks and recreation project, which includes improvements to parks, trails and stormwater, will be paid for at the end of six years with the collection of the half cent sales tax also approved by voters.

“Platte County is in a very enviable position. We’re growing by 2,000 citizens a year that are moving to Platte County and retail businesses are developing at an unbelievable rate in the county,” said Wegner. “The financial condition of the county is extremely solvent.”

Wegner, 54, said his other goals include fine tuning the strategic plan that’s currently in place and continuing a positive relationship with the other government entities in the district, such as the road districts, the school districts and the boards of aldermen.

“I offer the county an approach that involves the citizens. Our policy here is that when there’s a major decision we involve the citizens through public hearings, a citizen task force, involve the local boards of aldermen and the Lions Clubs,” stated Wegner.

Wegner served as mayor of Platte City for two years, as well as alderman for two years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social science from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA and did graduate work at the University of Iowa and Western Illinois.

Wegner and his wife Marilou live in Platte City and have two children: Zac and Corby.

Facing Wegner on the primary ballot is Jim Plunkett, owner of JPI Glass in Kansas City, Mo.

According to Plunkett, he believes there isn’t separate representation between District 1 and District 2 on the commission. And for Plunkett that’s a main priority in his pursuit of the commission seat.

“There’s no distinction between District 1 and District 2 like there should be. I’ve learned that the county commissioners are out of touch with the needs of the citizens, especially in District 2,” explained Plunkett.

While representation is an issue, Plunkett also wants there to be an open door policy if elected to office.

“I want the people in the second district to feel like they have an open line of communication with the commission. My feeling is that anyone has the right to offer a view to the commission, whether they agree with them or not,” Plunkett explained.

Plunkett also wants to carry out fiscal responsibility to the county, especially in relationship to the parks and recreation program and the roads plans of the county.

He also stated his goals of making sure that district two, specifically north of Platte City, gets its fair share of the road tax, as well as restoring confidence to the taxpayers.

Plunkett he believes his business background will be useful if elected to office.

“All the time in business we have to set a budget, make projections and live within the budgets we set,” said Plunkett.

Plunkett, 47, took two years of general courses at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS.

Plunkett and his wife, Sherri, who live south of Platte City, have four children: Bob, Andrea, Alexandra, Adam and one grandchild.

At the beginning of the election, Plunkett stated he challenged Wegner to not take money from developers and vendors do business with the county.

“I just want it to be known that I have self-financed the majority of my campaign,” stated Plunkett.

“If I’m elected I want everything to be totally ethical and so there wouldn’t be a need to question in the future.”



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