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McPherson: Learn about candidates for the city commission and school board

Your Local Candidates: In Their Own Words Nov. 5 2019 Kansas local election

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.

McPherson USD 418 Board of Education

Lara Vanderhoof, candidate for McPherson USD 418 Board of Education

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

Dr. Lara Vanderhoof is an Assistant Professor of Social Work and Social Work Program Director at Tabor College. Holding a Doctorate of Social Work and a Masters of Social Work, she is a licensed social worker in the states of Kansas. She has over 25 years of social work experience including working with mental health, child welfare, sexual abuse, failure to thrive, higher education, public education, and juvenile justice.

Lara’s doctoral research examined the issues related to human trafficking in Kansas. Lara is an active member of the Set Free organization in McPherson, Kansas. She is an active volunteer with McPherson Offender Victim Ministries, helping first time youthful offenders have a second chance. She is an active member of the local United Way. 

I am running for USD 418 School Board of Education to further advocate for the highest quality public education for our children.

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 most important issue I would like to see improved is that the school board adopt and implement a curriculum that is vertically and horizontally aligned grades Kindergarten through 12th and relies on measurable outcomes and reliable assessment structures.

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 mobilize this effort by developing a strategic plan with short and long-term measurable goals with due dates. Additionally, I would require monthly written reports on the curriculum adoption and implementation process. I would meet with teachers, administrators, and parents to monitor the progress and recommend adjustments as needed. I would encourage visits to observe and meet with school districts with aligned curriculum to gain further understanding and knowledge.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from McPherson USD 4189 Board of Education candidates Jeff L. Johnson, Brian Meek, Alan Burghart, Dale Partick, Emily Greer, Robin K. Werth, Jeffrey P. Butler, and Ann M.E. Parkins.

Your Local Candidates: In Their Own Words Nov. 5 2019 Kansas local election

McPherson City Commission

Michael Yates, candidate for McPherson City Commissioner of Public Facilities

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

During the last decade, I have experienced McPherson from a variety of perspectives: as an entrepreneur who has started seven new businesses. As a community organizer having served on the board for McPherson Main Street for seven years. As an investor having revitalized five downtown buildings encompassing over a million dollars of improvements. Most importantly, as a husband and father starting a family. As a father, I have learned to see McPherson through a new perspective: my child’s eyes. McPherson has been a fantastic community to raise a child, touting some of the state’s cleanest parks. As City Commissioner, I will continue to improve accessibility to our city’s resources and the people we have asked to oversee them, ensuring our children have open, accessible, and safe places to play. I plan to use my experiences to create more transparency within our local government, and make citizens feel more connected to the decisions that impact their lives.

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.

One of the issues our children face is finding open, accessible, and safe places to play. Our city has 14 parks for them to play in, but many of them are in need of maintenance or repair. One such example involves one of our local parks with play equipment designed to be accessible to all children, including children with disabilities. However, those same children struggle to reach the park because the sidewalk is inaccessible and has been so for more than a year. The parks department is full of dedicated public servants who work hard trying to keep up with the demands on their department. They deserve the help and resources they need to make the necessary repairs to keep our public areas viable and relevant 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.

As City Commissioner, I will partner with our parks department and city staff to streamline processes and workflows, review budgetary needs, and empower our city’s public servants to find efficient, common-sense approaches to keep our public areas healthy. I plan to evaluate the needs of our park department, and will look at options to privatize some of the work, with proper oversight, when it is both logical and efficient to do so.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from McPherson City Commissioner of Public Facilities candidate Gary Mehl or McPherson City Commissioner of Public Works candidates Larry E. Wiens, Anne Hassler Heidel and Richard E. Keim.

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