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Coffeyville: Commission candidates discuss the right path for growing the community

Developing housing. Focusing on infrastructure. Getting better at working with new businesses coming to Coffeyville.

Those are among the paths that candidates for the Coffeyville City Commission plan to take in their efforts to grow the community, according to survey responses compiled by The Journal. Read more about each of the candidates who submitted responses in their own words below.

Update: Click here for Tuesday’s unofficial election results.

Editor’s note: To help readers make their voting choices in the Nov. 5 general election for local offices, The Journal, the Kansas Leadership Center’s quarterly magazine, sent out a survey to more than 250 candidates in communities where our magazine’s readership is the largest. What follows is information from your local candidates, in their own words.

Coffeyville City Commission

Justin Doane, candidate for Coffeyville City Commission

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

My name is Justin Doane and as my current term of city commissioner is coming to an end, I have decided to run again for my second term. I feel that Coffeyville is turning the page and beginning to move in a positive direction. Unlike other rural cities, we struggle with declining population/tax base and aging infrastructure. There is currently a harmonious buzz of excitement about the potential of Coffeyville. I want to continue to serve the citizens of Coffeyville through this time of decision making. As a Lead Facilitator for our community leadership program, I feel I bring a certain set of skills to the table that benefit the commission’s ability to work together as a team while navigating through tough decisions and conflict.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

There are currently a slew of critical issues that the city of Coffeyville is addressing. I feel the single most important issue that directly affects many others is the further development of housing. Coffeyville has a strong industrial base and continues to be a shining star for incoming industry. Having adequate housing available in the future is and should be a priority.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

Over the last year I personally have made several trips to visit with the offices of USDA and Kansas Department of Commerce. I believe the wheels are beginning to turn on new avenues that will benefit our city and thus our citizens. I want to continue to push this along as we progress with establishing a strategic plan for housing development.

To what extent are you concerned about the future of health care in your community?

To a great extent

Do you see health care as being primarily a local issue or a regional one?

Regional issue

What role, if any, does local government have to play in ensuring the availability of health care in your community?

I personally feel that having a strong network of health care facilities and providers in your city is vital for the needs of the citizens. I also feel that the local government should act in ways that are financially feasible in the support of your facilities. Coffeyville is very blessed to have a regional medical facility in town. The hospital currently receives a 1/2 cent sales tax from the city to help make ends meet.

How would you prioritize health care in comparison to other issues that you expect to deal with while serving in office?

Health care is similar to housing in the fact that it directly relates to many other issues. If someone is looking to relocate to a new area, one of the considerations is how close is medical assistance. If an industry is looking to build in our area they want to know that there is a place for their employees to be cared for. In the city of Coffeyville the median age is near 40, ensuring the availability as well as accessibility is of the utmost priority.

Rudy Draper, candidate for Coffeyville City Commission

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I am an experienced candidate as I have been mayor and city commissioner for Pittsburg, Kansas. I have served 22 years in the military. I am running to bring new ideas and new energy to the community of Coffeyville, Kansas, and to revitalize the community, bringing economic stability to the area.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

Economic Stability. I believe by stabilizing and reducing taxes on the mill levy and starting with growth of existing businesses, revitalizing our neighborhoods and downtown, and improving our infrastructure, we can stabilize our community and then start to grow.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

I would definitely mobilize efforts by first addressing the infrastructure by a comprehensive street and neighborhood plan, then set out to have a vision for 2040 of what we want our community to look like by that year involving the whole community. This will give us a guideline to reach our goals and revitalize the community.

To what extent are you concerned about the future of health care in your community?

To a great extent

Do you see health care as being primarily a local issue or a regional one?

Local issue

What role, if any, does local government have to play in ensuring the availability of health care in your community?

We have a responsibility to our community in health care by providing education and sitting on boards to our community to ensure our citizens have the best and affordable options in our community.

How would you prioritize health care in comparison to other issues that you expect to deal with while serving in office?

I would put health care in the top five issues to deal with in our community. We have work to do not just for the city but for the county as well.

Tracy Maxson, candidate for Coffeyville City Commission

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I feel that it is time to step up and commit to making Coffeyville a better place for the citizens, businesses and our families. I have been on the planning and zoning commission and I am currently serving on the board of trustees at CRMC (Coffeyville Regional Medical Center). As a local business owner, I feel that I have the insight needed to help Coffeyville develop and attract more businesses of all sizes. Coffeyville has a wonderful historic past and we need to embrace and celebrate it. But as city leaders we need to be forward thinking and adopting new, proven practices to improve Coffeyville, Kansas.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

I want to see our city work with new businesses that are interested in coming to Coffeyville. What that means is we need to be more inviting and more involved in the process of moving, building or opening a new business in Coffeyville. We have city staff that can be more accommodating to these new businesses and could help direct these potential businesses through the city-required process. We shouldn’t feel good about our job because we require a mountain of useless paperwork, that many just won’t muddle through, to weed out potential businesses. We need to help with every phase of the projects and get updates in the commission meetings to address any issues or procedural problems that could be modified case-by-case. All of our streets need to have a published schedule to be resurfaced, repaired or rebuilt. All of this together will help us to attract new businesses small and large, with the right leadership.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

Like above, I would utilize our city staff to their full potential. Assisting new businesses with the processes that we require shouldn’t be all on the potential business. We should make every step as easy and as accommodating as possible. Many businesses, existing and potential, have expressed these concerns of how difficult it is to do business with the city offices. To be more inviting or enticing to potential businesses, we will need to allocate existing resources to develop a plan for the repair, resurfacing or replacement of our suffering city streets. Under prior management we had a plan for the needed repairs and that will be a requirement going forward. This plan will need to be published and updated as we progress with the work.

To what extent are you concerned about the future of health care in your community?

To a very great extent

Do you see health care as being primarily a local issue or a regional one?

Local issue

What role, if any, does local government have to play in ensuring the availability of health care in your community?

By working with the local health care providers, local government helps to share information about local facilities. CRMC in Coffeyville must have a close bond with the city and the community to survive. Rural health care has taken a massive hit and will continue to do so if the support continues to diminish. Cities wanting to grow and attract new people, industry or businesses must have available quality health care.

How would you prioritize health care in comparison to other issues that you expect to deal with while serving in office?

Health care is a key component and a very high priority in my view of what our community needs and where we are headed. My time on the board of trustees at Coffeyville Regional Medical Center has exposed me to a greater wealth of knowledge on rural health care and the issues we face. Rural health care needs as many fighters in the ring as possible to win as much of our state legislators support to keep rural health care funded. Sometimes, if not always, rural health care gets a smaller piece of the pie and punished for being more efficient than those in higher populated areas.

Robert York, candidate for Coffeyville City Commission

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

As a lifetime resident of Coffeyville, I am seeking to represent the residents who want to see our community thrive and prosper. As a property owner, I want to insure that the commission serves as good stewards for our tax dollars. I previously served as a commissioner from 2003 to 2007. In this time, the commission worked extremely hard to return the City of Coffeyville into a financially solid community.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

Economic Development. Rural communities have consistently seen a decline in populations and opportunities. The role of the city government is to provide an environment in which businesses can prosper and citizens want to live. 

My priorities would be:

  • Working with existing manufacturing, retail and service industries as an aid to growth.
  • The recruitment and development of new industries.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

Work in partnership with existing industries to restrict overregulation, taxes and utility costs. Control budgets to limit the amount of funding required from taxpayers.

To what extent are you concerned about the future of health care in your community?

To a great extent

Do you see health care as being primarily a local issue or a regional one?

Regional issue

What role, if any, does local government have to play in ensuring the availability of health care in your community?

The City of Coffeyville owns the Coffeyville Regional Medical Center and leases out the operation to a company. The city appoints board members as an oversight to the hospital operations. The medical center has experienced many of the same issues as other rural health care facilities. The city works as a partner with the hospital.

How would you prioritize health care in comparison to other issues that you expect to deal with while serving in office?

It becomes increasingly difficult to draw new residents and industries into rural communities without medical facilities. It ranks as one of the top priorities.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from Coffeyville City Commission candidates Don W. Edwards, Jim C. Taylor, Jr., and Jim C. Taylor, Sr.