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Derby Mayor/City Council: Flooding, west-side progress top candidates’ priority lists

After serving as Derby’s mayor for four years, Randy White would like to return for another term on Nov. 5 and focus on a long-term solution to the community’s flooding issues.

But Mark Staats, a council member and a retired police officer who serves as the president and CEO of the Derby Chamber of Commerce, also wants the job. His priority? Fostering business growth on the community’s west-side and having it be a place where families and communities can gather.

With Staats running for mayor, Thomas Wilhite and Jenny Webster are vying to replace him as the representative for Ward IV.

Read more about each of the candidates in their own words below.

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

Click here for information about the Derby USD 260 Board of Education.

 

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.

Derby Mayor

Randy White, candidate for Mayor

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

I have been the Mayor of Derby for four years. Before that, I was on the council for four years and the planning commission for two years. I have worked at Spirit AeroSystems for 37 years. I’m married to Pam and we have three kids and eight Grandkids. I’m running to help keep Derby financially sound and growing. Derby is a great place to live and a good place to raise a family.

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 think one of the biggest challenges we have as a city is flooding issues. This includes not only water damage from storms but also includes damage to our creeks and groundwater flooding. We have to maintain good stormwater policies and work with property owners to improve our drainage systems.

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.

Derby needs to work with other communities and the County to develop and implement long term solutions. Several studies and plans have been conducted and action plans need to be agreed on and implemented. Derby is at the southernmost end of Sedgwick County and to effectively control flooding is going to have to be a coordinated effort.

Mark Staats, candidate for Mayor

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

I’m Mark Staats – a proud advocate for Derby and the people who live here. I care deeply about my community and the issues affecting our citizens – which is why I’ve chosen to run for Mayor. Though I’ve served on the City Council representing Ward IV for twelve years, my service to our town extends far beyond that role. As a retired police officer and the current president & CEO of the Derby Chamber of Commerce, I’ve gained valuable perspective and broad insight into the inner workings of our city. I’m a firm believer in action through service, and I’m not afraid to be in the trenches and get my hands dirty for the betterment of our 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.

The single most important issue I would work to improve is continuing to encourage progress on the west side. This area is vital in creating a positive first impression of our city – it has almost unlimited potential for new and existing businesses to prosper and to be a place where families and communities can gather. As a city, we must have a plan for smart, incremental growth that improves the quality of life for ALL residents and what we do now will impact Derby for generations to come.

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.

My priority would be to create conversations where stakeholders are empowered to have a voice in the development and progress in that area. By listening to those in our community, we are able to create solutions that are not beneficial only to one group of constituents, but the community as a whole. Action and involvement are instrumental to the success of any strong community and I believe that the Mayor should be at the forefront – leading the charge.

Derby City Council, Ward IV

Thomas Wilhite, candidate for Derby City Council, Ward IV

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

I have been a small business owner in automotive repair. I consider myself a problem solver because I’ve called upon to perform that duty every single day. I feel that some long range discussions of Derby have locked in a good vision of the future. 

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 would like to see first responder coverage of the west side of the tracks through Derby. We are at times cut off from that help for one to two hours at a time. I also would like to improve streets and infrastructure in Derby.

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.

Through public announcements, newspaper stories, talk to other people in cities. I would make people aware of the problems and come up with the best answer to fix the problem.

Some examples of key issues:

  1. We have a water problem.
  2. Road improvement problem.
  3. Access across the city east to west.
  4. The railroad.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from Derby City Council, Ward IV, candidate Jenny Webster. Learn about her by visiting her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jenny4derby/.

 

Derby USD 260 Board of Education

Pamela Doyle, candidate for Derby USD 260 Board of Education

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

I have lived in Derby for 28 years and have witnessed firsthand the community’s commitment to quality education. I have four daughters who graduated from Derby High School and currently have eight grandchildren attending Derby schools. I started my career in postsecondary education in 1991 as a graduate teaching assistant at Wichita State University, and I currently serve as Vice President, General Education and Health Sciences at WSU Tech. I am interested in serving on the school board because I am passionate about education and would like the opportunity to use my skills, experience, and passion to promote the best education possible for every student in our district.

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 commend the district for its commitment to school safety and appreciate the resources that have been invested to keep our students safe. I would like to see the safety plan extended to include mental health education. The state of Florida has recently mandated mental health education for all students starting in the sixth grade. I believe this initiative could reduce violence in schools by helping students become more self-aware and self-managed.

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.

The first step would be to educate the community on the Florida mandate and how it is being implemented. After gathering as much information as possible, we would consider the needs of our student population and make adjustments accordingly.

Tina Prunier, candidate for Derby USD 260 Board of Education

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

My name is Tina Prunier. I am a longtime resident of Derby, I graduated from Derby High School, went on to Cowley County Community College and then Wichita State University where I received my degree in Criminal Justice. I am married to my husband Tom and have two daughters: Brooke who is a graduate of Derby and now a sophomore at KSU; and McKenna, who is currently a freshman at the high school. I am running for a second term on the Board of Education because I have enjoyed being part of a team who puts our students best interests first and works to ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve success. As a candidate I believe I am well rounded and have the ability to look at situations objectively and completely. I would like to be given the opportunity continue to have an impact in Derby Schools.

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.

Of high importance to me is being able to attract and retain quality staff so we are able to continue to support and engage students in an ever changing environment.

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.

Creating an environment where educators feel valued and needed. Empowering educators and providing them with needed tools, such as updated curriculum and safe learning spaces, while fostering open and honest communication allows them to focus on what’s important … our students!

Mark Tillison, candidate for Derby USD 260 Board of Education

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

Career military retiring this year in December. Derby, KS, resident for 18 years with five children graduated from USD 260 and our youngest son a high school sophomore this year. Derby is a great city to live in and, as it has continued to grow, I’ve become more involved with helping shape that growth. The success of our children in school is a significant factor to many things that shape our community. More successful students = less local crime, drugs, poverty; stronger families, better hires for local businesses.

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.

The list of significant issues impacting less successful students is not endless – family factors (poverty, abuse, addiction), medical issues (physiological and emotional) – but they can be complicated and potentially expensive. Then there are children that are just not “academic.” They are very unlikely to go to college right out of high school. The traditional thought is that the school is addressing these issues as much as it can, but that isn’t working. These are community issues and the community will help itself by finding solutions to these issues. I hope to focus on at least one and get the community involved in how to address it.

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’ve been researching “town hall” software to consider but also believe in getting town together for some facilitated/targeted education, discussion and brain-storming.

The Journal has not received responses to its survey from Derby USD 260 Board of Education candidates Matthew Joyce, Lauren A. Ignowski, Don Adkisson, Althea Arvin, Matt Hoag and Ron Chronister.