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Manhattan City Commission

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Aaron Estabrook (N) Business and Community Liaison - Flint Hills Job Corps

Biographical Information

Personal Biography Estabrook is a K-State graduate that served in the U.S. Army with a combat deployment to Afghanistan. Locally, he’s worked as a Case Manager for homeless Veterans. He was elected to the USD 383 School Board. He served on the Parks & Rec Board, Head Start Policy Council, & Early Learning Community TF. Recently he was elected VP of NAMI Kansas (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to advocate & educate people on Mental Health issues. He is employed as the Business & Community Liaison for Job Corps
Campaign Phone (785) 341-7591
Campaign Email estabrook.aaron@gmail.com
Campaign Web Site http://estabrook.solutions
Education Kansas State University (B.S.)
Community/Public Service US Army - Enlisted - 19K - OEF Estabrook served on the Manhattan Parks and Recreation Board, the USD 383 Head Start Policy Council, Early Learning Community Task Force, and as Vice-President of the USD 383 Board of Education. Estabrook worked at Sunflower CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) until he was offered the Executive Director role of the Save Kansas Coalition, where he promoted civic engagement across Kansas that ultimately resulted in a more moderate Kansas Legislature over the 3 years he worked in that role. In 2019, Estabrook was elected Vice-President of NAMI Kansas (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to advocate and educate people about Mental Health issues in Kansas.
Address 300 N 4th St #307 Manhattan, KS 66502
Web Site https://estabrook.solutions/
CampaignPhone 7853417591

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

Yes, access and affordability of quality mental health and childcare are of primary importance. Both issues are a daily part of our family’s life. My wife and I both serve on the Board of Directors of NAMI Kansas (National Alliance on Mental Illness). The new Crisis Stabilization Center is the first step in helping better serve those that experience a mental health crisis. I am proud of the CIT’s that RCPD has created and I am encouraged to know Manhattan Fire have a goal of 100% staff training in Mental Health First Aid.

My young family has struggled to secure childcare in Manhattan in recent years and through my service on the Board of Education I used my voice to advocate for an (ELC) Early Learning Community. I served 3 years on the Head-Start Policy Council and familiarized myself with the population it serves. I believe we must continue to invest in after-school programs like Boys and Girls Club, 4-H, and Parents as Teachers.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

We have about $70 million in General Obligation Bond debt. That translates to roughly $1,264 per person living in Manhattan – this is money we currently owe.

But we have been paying it down and our 12.1% General Obligation Bonds as a percent of our tax base is exactly the median for all cities categorized as First-Class Cities in Kansas.

So, we are not in terrible shape nor are we in great shape, but we have opportunities ahead and growth in areas no one else really has. We need City leadership to responsibly leverage our strengths for us to prosper as a community while also being good shepherds of our tax dollars by paying down our debts.

Much of the future direction of the budget depends on how the voters decide on the Sales Tax question that will be on the ballot. If that passes I can see a way to pay for the infrastructure needed to prevent more flooding.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

Ultimately it is up to the local voters to decide and I will support their decision. Personally, I am not closing the door on considering the Sales Tax. It is in-part a reaction to the State Legislature passage and reaffirmation of the "Property Tax Lid", but I do not like that the sales tax is not targeted for a specific purpose and would prefer something that had a sunset date with specific needs tied to it. If the Sales Tax passes I would be interested in paying down debt, addressing our flooding concerns, and developing an Affordable Housing Trust Fund with a portion of that revenue.

Additionally, if the Sales Tax passes - I believe we should have "citizen participatory budgeting" for those funds.

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

I think this is an interesting proposal by Commissioner Wynn Butler and I am not committed to dismissing it without further discussion between him and the commission. SSAB serves an incredibly valuable role in determining how much a social service agency is meeting outcomes and that accountability and oversight is lost if a one mill limit is enforced. So I have more questions than answers on this topic.

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

I find it entertaining to follow Commissioner Wynn Butler's thought experiment on this issue and his conclusion that 94% of Manhattan residents pay for RCPD's budget. There may be circumstances where we need to take a closer look at the state statute that created our combined law enforcement agency and the wording to ensure all entities are paying what the law intended.

I do not consider this a priority.

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

The City must be cognizant of its history. The soul of our community is lost when we don't pause to not only appreciate the past but to preserve it for the generations ahead of us. I agree with Donovan Rypkema.

"Rehabilitating historic properties conserves taxpayers’ dollars, conserves our local heritage, and conserves the natural environment. Rehabilitating historic buildings and using the infrastructure that is already in place to serve them is the height of fiscal and environmental responsibility." – Donovan Rypkema , Place Economics

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

I believe our commission could benefit by having someone with young children on it. Our community aims to attract young parents but yet we do not have one on the City Commission.

Citizen Engagement could be enhanced with small changes to the way meetings are held and conducted to allow for greater citizen input. I would be interested in a citizen involved budgeting project - especially if we pass the Sales Tax then I believe we should have "participatory budgeting" for those funds. I would also like to have Manhattan advocate for mail-in ballots for local elections. This would increase turnout substantially.

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Mark J. Hatesohl (N) Doctor of Chiropractic

Biographical Information

Personal Biography Married to Pamela, 2 grown daughters, Jessica & Georgia, 35 years in private practice as Chiropractor, grew up in Linn, KS. I have served for many years on the North-Central district of the Kansas Chiropractic Assn and was on the KCA state board for 6 years. I love to golf, ride my Harley, and attend KSU football games.
Campaign Phone (785) 564-0174
Campaign Email mhatesohl@gmail.com
Campaign Web Site http://markformanhattan.com
Education Cleveland Chiropractic College Cloud County Comm College
Community/Public Service Former Mayor and City Commissioner President, St Luke's Lutheran Church President, Cloud Co Comm College Foundation Past-Pres, The Guardians (charity)

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

I think these needs are important but not sure what the CIty can do to solve them. Mental illness treatment is too big for the City to try to deal with and have not heard of any way a city our size can help in any meaningful way. I am open to good ideas, I just haven't heard any. Affordable childcare is always a challenge because of the regulations the State and City have on operating childcare centers and even childcare in your home. The city and state need to balance safety with affordability and for the past several years, the pendulum has swung so far in favor of safety that it is pricing families out of childcare.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

Taxes in Manhattan always seem high and they have gone up a bunch lately with the school district's new bond issue. The city has been doing a reasonable job of holding their part down, but have shifted the property tax load over to other funding sources which is only a short term fix. The city needs to limit the number of new regulations it puts in place because that requires more city employees to monitor and the government costs then grow. I would like to ease the rigid enforcement of new building codes to help keep construction costs down.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

It is a cop out. Sales taxes are sold to voters stating that out of town visitors will help pay the sales tax. This is true but it can't be more than 5-10% of the total sales taxes collected, so the locals are still paying almost all the sales tax being collected. I think the city should let people vote on it, but if it passes the city still needs to be frugal with using the sales tax money collected.

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

That proposal was suggested before and I think it was even in place back in the early 2000s for a few years. I like the idea of an amount being pledged each year to go to the social service agencies, but would need to see the numbers before committing to a full mil. Perhaps .75 or .8, or .9 might be a good number that I would think is appropriate.

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

No it is not equitable because the residents of Manhattan pay 80% of the 20% that the county provides. If the county collected their 20% from the residents OUTSIDE of Manhattan, it would be equitable. I know the county argues that they have to provide the facilities and capital expenditures, and the residents outside of Manhattan are probably getting less than their share of policing,so it is probably as good of an arrangement as we can hope for.

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

The city can provide local input and should have some flexibility in applying state and federal regulations to historic preservation requirements. People have pushed the city to save some "historic" buildings and it turns out they weren't as usable once preserved as anticipated. The saveability of a building needs to be weighed against the useability of it once it is restored.

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

I think it does. There has been good diversity on the commission the past 15 years and there has been lots of effort to engage the citizens.

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Kaleb James (N) Sr Business Analyst

Biographical Information

Personal Biography Married with 3 kids. Army veteran, I currently work as a Sr. Business Analyst.
Campaign Address 1044 Burton Place
Campaign Phone (913) 416-2122
CampaignPhone 913-416-2122

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

They are both extremely important. First, to address the mental health issue it is important to ensure the cooperation of law enforcement and healthcare providers to make sure that people are getting treated as soon as possible and not being sent to jail cells when treatment is required. Currently RCPD does a good job in making this happen and the new director is enhancing efforts to make this seamless. Childcare shortages are at critical levels in Manhattan. If indeed there was a business type that I would look to give any tax incentive to it would be an affordable, accredited daycare with a history of, or well vetted plan to be able to garner supplemental income through federal and state grants or other private or corporate sponsorship's. Well established and affordable child care centers are essential to the retention and acquisition of young workforce professionals.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

The property tax in Manhattan is too high. The current proposal is a .4 mil increase. I believe a percentage cut across the board equaling the proposed raise would remove the risk of any department losing functional capability and allow for the shared burden of responsible governing.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

I only agree with the sales tax increase if there is no mill levy increase in the passed budget. Anything short of that would simply be an increased burden on tax payers and serve as more of a reason more middle class families to move to more affordable places.

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

I like the proposal because it allows the city to plan effectively and budget forecast with SSAB in mind. It also allows SSAB to plan knowing that a set amount will be allocated to them each budget session. In future years the commission can reassess if indeed the funding is adequate which currently it looks to be.

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

The current configuration requires Manhattan residents to be taxed twice for the same services. The only equitable option would be for Manhattan residents to be assessed their portion of the taxes and through city taxes and non-Manhattan residents to be assessed their portion through county taxes.

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

The city has an obligation to maintain historic sites for future generations. The city should think outside the box and entertain various opportunities to keep historic buildings not only true to their time period but also functional for current usage so that new memories can be made in these buildings.

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

I would love to see more diversity on the commission. Having diversity in leadership encourages citizen participation. Hosting town hall meetings and hearing the issues of the people of Manhattan at different times and locations would help make participation easier for people whose schedule doesn't allow for participation in the regularly scheduled meetings.

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Linda Morse (N) Manhattan City Commissioner

Biographical Information

Personal Biography Linda is a Kansas native and has lived in Manhattan for more than 40 years. She was the Registrar for Distance Education/Conferences in the Div. of Continuing Education at Kansas State University for over 25 years and retired in 2013. Linda has served on a ton of boards and committees over the years and is intimately familiar with the Manhattan community. Linda was elected to the City Commission in April, 2015 and served as mayor from Sept, 2017 to Nov, 2019 She is a widow and has two sons.
Campaign Phone (785) 313-5612
Campaign Email LindaMorse4MHK@gmail.com
Education Attended Washburn University but did not graduate. Completed Office/Administrative program at a Technical School
Community/Public Service Manhattan City Commissioner 2015-2020 Flint Hills Regional Council, Treasurer and Manhattan Representative Manhattan Housing Authority, Board of Directors Riley County Law Board, City Member District Rotary Human Trafficking Work Group Wildcat Creek & Blue River Flood Study Groups Riley County Council on Aging North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, Board Vice Chair Riley County Council on Social Service Agencies Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board (9 years) Manhattan Martin Luther King Planning Committee (20+ years) Manhattan/Riley County League of Women Voters Board of Directors (15 years) Manhattan Public Library Board of Directors-2018 Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors-2018
Address Manhattan City Hall 1101 Poyntz Avenue Manhattan, KS 66502
Web Site www.cityofmhk.com
Champaign Phone 785-313-5612 (candidate)
Campaign phone 785-370-5072 (campaign manager)
Web Address www.lindamorse4mhk.com

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

I do agree that mental health and childcare are of primary importance to this community! Both are COMMUNITY and WORKFORCE issues! The city’s ability to fund these issues is limited, and a greater effort must be made to bring the local stakeholders together. Pawnee Mental Health just opened a six-bed voluntary stabilization center in Manhattan. In 2018 we funded two co-responder positions at Pawnee to work with Riley County Police. Our community has been creative and responsive. The Mental Health Task Force should continue their work and add recommendations to respond to the growing homeless population. We must better support our citizens with mental health issues AND groom future employees to improve the quality of life throughout our community. Childcare has been an issue for years!! There is a significant need for childcare for lower-income families and they have few options. I propose the city initiate a childcare task force. 24/7 child care is also a serious need.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

Each year, the City Commission listens to our community in multiple meetings and balances the priorities in order to establish a budget that determines taxing levels. I don’t like raising or paying taxes any more than any one else. This year saw a very modest increase of 4/10th of a mil to maintain services and safety to assure Manhattan is THE community that attracts residents and visitors. It is important to consider that the citizens of Manhattan voted to support additional funds for streets, safe school routes, swimming pools, sidewalks and two new indoor activity centers. I interpret those votes as support for the current city budget and tax rate levels and the city commission must work to achieve a balance of interests. The majority of the citizens have supported the initiatives to increase sales taxes in order NOT to raise property taxes. The City Commission is pursuing those priorities.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

The proposed 3/10ths of a cent sales tax initiative on the November 5 ballot will support projects outside of the regular budget that assures continued economic vitality: public safety needs, flood response, transportation infrastructure and investing in our youth. These issues have been very transparent to voters via open meetings, public hearings and news articles. While both sales taxes and property taxes are regressive here, I will support the sales tax increase. The projects include renovation of the levee, replacement of the aging airport runway and Aggieville infrastructure, improving the North Campus Corridor infrastructure near the NBAF facility, constructing a Douglass Center Indoor Activity Center, and a combined city facility for most of the city’s aging and inefficient maintenance facilities. I urge you to think carefully about these projects. The city budget simply cannot absorb such large additional projects!. These are not WANTS, they are NEEDS!

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

I prefer not to put a cap on the city's Social Services funds. The Board and the city administration have done a good job of balancing that fund. I say let’s trust our citizens who work hard on the Social Services Advisory Board to find the correct balance. It has worked so far!

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

The 80/20 percent financial split was appropriate in the 1970’s when the statute creating consolidated law enforcement was passed in the Legislature. It is my understanding that the population split is now closer to a 75% city/25% county split. The mayor recently approached the county commission about revising the original agreement to reflect the population change and the county commissioners unanimously rejected the idea. The statute calls for mutual agreement. The city currently contributes $1.43 million per month to RCPD. Riley County is responsible for all infrastructure costs but there is evidently no one report available that reflects the county's total costs. By the way, consolidating law enforcement in Riley County was a forward-thinking and efficient idea that I support!

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

The Manhattan community has long recognized the importance of historic preservation by establishing a Historic Resources Board made up of professionals in the field. The Board makes recommendations to the City Commission with the counsel of invaluable citizen input. The city also uses that process to submit worthy properties for State and Federal Historic Register designations. I so appreciate the Friends of Peace Memorial Auditorium for fundraising to ‘save’ the historic veterans’ memorial auditorium at City Hall. The Community House was likewise not well maintained and is proposed to be sold for a ‘dollar.’ Fortunately, Floral Hall is sturdy and requires little maintenance. We must do better to protect the city’s assets and preserve our community’s history for future generations. New is not always better!

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

Our city commission has increasingly become more representative of the community at large. Over the years, commissioners have come from different areas of the community and income levels. Four years ago, I was proud to be the first commissioner ever elected from the Northview area, and now there are two! With my election came only the second time in history that the City Commission had a majority of women! It is important that our commissioners and citizens appointed to boards and commissions reflect our diverse racial and socioeconomic population changes. Further, women and minorities are lacking in the city’s visible administrative level positions. Manhattan is routinely complimented at statewide meetings that I attend as one of the most transparent cities in the state! However, there are too few citizens who attend meetings, such as important budget meetings! The city also needs to better communicate in Spanish. Since 2015 the Hispanic population in Manhattan has increased to 14%.

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Maureen Sheahan (N) Research Manager

Biographical Information

Personal Biography From north central Kansas, I came to Manhattan to attend K-State in 1979. After graduating with a degree in biochemistry, I stayed here to work and raise a family. Currently, I manage a research laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine. I am the mother of twin daughters and a son, and grandmother of six grandchildren.
Campaign Phone (785) 341-4779
Campaign Email canmom40@yahoo.com
Campaign Web Site http://Sheahan4Commission.com
Education Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Kansas State University
Community/Public Service I am a member of the board of directors of the Wonder Workshop.

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

I would like to see both mental healthcare and childcare addressed more fully. RCPD is making strong steps forward in the provision of care for people in crisis. I support the city partnering with mental healthcare providers to pursue grants and other funding opportunities with a goal of expanding access, establishing additional locations, providing services outside normal business hours, and looking for ways to reduce costs for those in need of services. Quality, affordable childcare is crucial for young families. I support initiatives to expand childcare access. I believe it is important to parents that their childcare be located either close to home or close to work. I support looking for ways that the city can encourage workplaces or business districts to provide childcare. I would also like to explore, with input from parents and providers, the pros and cons of placing a comprehensive list of registered childcare providers on the city website.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

Property taxes in Manhattan are high, in large part because property values are high. The City’s general fund only receives about 4 cents out of every property tax dollar. That means that we don’t have a lot of room to maneuver or places to cut. The average income in Manhattan is lower than the national average. Sales tax increases place the greatest burden on those who have the least to spare. We are told that an estimated 25% of sales taxes are paid by non-residents. I question whether that estimate is still accurate, particularly with the rise of internet sales. I know people from small towns who used shop in Manhattan regularly, but now shop online Rather than cutting or expanding services, I would advocate that the city work to retire more debt than we take on. And that we be very strategic in the projects that we fund. If the sales tax increase does pass, we need to define a process by which we determine which projects get funded and in what order.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

I am not a big proponent of sales tax increases for the reason stated above. Sales tax increases place the greatest burden on those who have the least.

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

I am not sure that it is necessary. I believe we funded more Social Services in the past than we do now. Perhaps this proposal is seen as a way to ensure that we do not fund additional services. I would have to study these figures and the history more closely.

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

I would note that city residents pay more than 80% of the RCPD budget because we pay both city and county property taxes. However, the majority of RCPD time and effort is expended in the city. The only way to know for sure whether the current split is equitable would to evaluate the entire RCPD budget, factoring in the value of the facilities, capital expenditures, allocation of RCPD resources over time, etc.

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

I support preservation and maintenance of historic properties, at a minimum. When possible, I support modernizing historic properties while staying true to the original intent.

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

I think the local government is not as representative of the community as it could be. I support exploring additional ways of engaging with the community and community groups; perhaps by hosting less formal gatherings or listening sessions or providing easier mechanisms for feedback during or after city commission meetings.

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Mary Renee Shirk (N) Media Professional, Comedian, Entertainer

Biographical Information

Personal Biography In 25+ years in Manhattan I've had many roles in media and entertainment. I've worked in local radio and newspaper. As a news reporter I covered government and police in Junction City and Manhattan. I attended KSU a few times over the years where I held several leadership roles. My husband and I raised 4 children here and worked our way up from being below the poverty line to successful professionals who are active in the city. I will work so others have the same opportunities.
Campaign Email maryreneeformhk@gmail.com
Education Bachelor Degree in Human Resource Management, MidAmerica Nazarene University. Work toward a Masters in Mass Communication, Kansas State University
Community/Public Service I am a member of the Little Apple Pride committee. Over the years I have held positions on the board of People's Grocery and Manhattan Arts Center committees. I am active in supporting the arts, music and drama department at Manhattan High School. I am working with Northview Rising to educate members about Participatory Budgeting.
Web Site https://www.facebook.com/MaryReneeForMHK/
Web Address https://www.facebook.com/MaryReneeForMHK/

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

Both of these issues are important and are challenges facing governments across the country. Mental health is a disease which is greatly affected an individual's access to adequate health care, safe housing and support systems. People who feel isolated, helpless and ignored by their community are less likely to seek they help they need. The Riley County Police Department's mental health co-responder program is a great example of the ways a city can help. Co-responders de-escalate situations and help people get the assistance they need. Continuing to support the expansion of mental health services is vital. As for childcare we need to give families more flexibility in the workplace, make Manhattan more affordable, and encourage higher wages and benefits so parents can spend less time at work. Also, expanding early childhood education through the school district not only alleviates some of the cost of childcare but makes children more prepared for the future.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

Candidate has not yet responded.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

Candidate has not yet responded.

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

Candidate has not yet responded.

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

Candidate has not yet responded.

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

Candidate has not yet responded.

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

The city commission is not representative of the community. Running for office has made it clear to me how and why it isn't. I was told I should to raise about $10,000 for this campaign and to ask friends for $100/$200/$500 donations. I am here to represent the working class people in this town who don't have hundreds of dollars to donate to a political campaign. The way to get a more inclusive, representative government is to have more voter forums and strong community organizations giving candidates a way to reach and inform voters without spending thousands on yard signs and political ads. A commissioner said that if citizens care about issues they should attend commission meetings. Many citizens can't attend these 7 pm meetings; they're students who wait tables in the evening, working parents getting kids to bed, officers on duty, nurses working the night shift. As commissioner, I will host regular casual events for citizens to ask questions, introduce ideas and air grievances.

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Sarah Siders (N) Therapist

Biographical Information

Personal Biography Sarah Siders is a mother, wife, therapist, pastor and writer who loves Manhattan and is seeking to serve our great city by providing thoughtful, compassionate and decisive leadership as we enter a new era of education, economy and social connection. A K-State graduate, Sarah has lived in Manhattan for 16 years, is married, and is raising her two sons in the Northview neighborhood.
Campaign Phone (785) 414-9047
Campaign Email sidersforcity@gmail.com
Campaign Web Site http://sidersforcity.com
Education Bachelors of Arts, Social Work, Kansas State University Masters of Clinical Social Work, Washburn University
Community/Public Service Boys and Girls Club volunteer The Well Church outreach and community engagement Greater Manhattan Community Foundation Young Trustees Member Northview Rising member
Address PO Box 267 Manhattan, KS 66505

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

I agree that mental health and childcare tend to top the list of concerns for local people. Reducing red tape for day care licensing is important but creative solutions are needed. Some communities encourage on-site daycare for parents in the workplace or offer childcare facilities in a senior home. It will take creative thinking for our community to address this need. In the wake of the nationwide crisis of mental health, as well state funding cuts for community mental health, the opening of the voluntary stabilization center and the collaboration between RCPD and Pawnee are signs of progress that our community is recognizing the important impact of promoting and acknowledging mental health. I would want to continue to support these efforts. Also, I believe affordable housing for our young workforce is a significant need, and I believe building density in the urban cores will help build quality of place, improve housing affordability and access and utilize existing infrastructure.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

The experience of taxation is relative to personal income, experience in other locations, and expectations. Some residents I've talked with say Manhattan is very affordable in comparison with larger cities while others share a fear they will have to move in order to afford housing and other necessities. From my review of the city budget, there is not much room to cut the city income. Manhattan residents rely on the services the city provides, yet tax income does not fully cover these costs. So it would be difficult for me to justify cutting any particular expenses. However, my conversations with residents indicate an experience of ever-increasing taxation, leading to a wariness of new tax-funded initiatives and a lack of trust of government. I would like to see the city utilize the funding we have without constantly raising the property tax to pay for basic services. I believe the passing of the sales tax could help fund critical and catalytic projects and avoid property tax increases.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

The sales tax initiative is a difficult proposition as sales tax disproportionately negatively impacts lower-income people. However, there are several important and catalytic projects proposed by the city that have varied funding sources and would create momentum in the city as we shift toward sustainability for the next decades. Due to the regular increase of the mill levy over the last few years, city staff proposed the sales tax in order to share the tax burden with visitors, which it does, and I believe this is a positive aspect of this form of taxation.

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

While city support of social services currently falls under one mill, including the funding support of other services and programs, such as ATA Bus, as was proposed, would increase the cost of the services and would no longer fall under one mill. While the city is by no means the sole funding source for the SSAB-supported non-profits, I believe the city has a responsibility to invest in these organizations and their work in order to care for the most vulnerable in our city. In addition, financial investments in these programs provides the city with the ability to influence the work produced and provide support and accountability as well.

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

From recent census data, approximately two-thirds of Riley County’s population resides in the Manhattan city limits. While the 80% RCPD budget required by Manhattan residents is beyond the two-thirds mark, Riley County currently covers the remaining 20% plus facilities costs. The current budget breakdown is not exactly equitable, but this may not be the result of the numbers as much as the structure of the Riley County Law Board. Although some of the board members are elected to city or county commission, the board itself is not an elected body and is able to develop a budget without need for approval by the city or county who will be funding said budget. Exploring options for adjusting the Law Board structure, for example, to allow the city and county to provide feedback to the proposed budget may improve equity and buy-in for the RCPD funding decisions in the future.

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

As modern times are rapidly accelerating, the value for tradition and things of the past can often get lost. However, historic properties and artifacts represent the character, narrative and history of our city, and they are extremely important to preserve. The city’s Historic Resources Board is a crucial piece of this process. Preservation in the traditional sense of all our city’s old, unkempt buildings or spaces may not be practical and feasible in every situation. Recent examples of the Peace Memorial Auditorium and the Community House illustrate ways in which we can allow our citizens to engage, fund and support preservation with creative solutions driven by a desire to preserve and value these local treasures.

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

I believe the local government does its best to represent the community at large, and I believe this model is most effective. Numerous city initiatives aim to engage residents, from the regular event, Planning and Pints, to the program, Neighborhood MHK, designed to engage residents about their needs and hopes for their neighborhood. The recent planning efforts involving residents speaking into the design of the middle school community centers is another example. I believe city staff truly value the interaction and feedback from Manhattan residents and seek to listen, share vision and gain buy-in as decisions are made. Newer models of citizen engagement that could be considered include participatory budgeting, which allows citizens to decide the use of a portion of the city budget. Also, I believe that with our growing Spanish-speaking population, it would be helpful to have the city website and social media updates available in Spanish to provide all our residents with equal access.

Voter Guide

Candidate picture Choose Chosen

Vincent Tracey (N) IT Specialist

Biographical Information

Personal Biography Born in Pennsylvania, Graduated from Blue Mountain High School, Was married to my late wife for 38 years Trained as an Electronics Repair Technician Served 20 years in the US Army Trained as a Military Police Dog Handler and Investigator Was a USD 383 School Bus Driver and Mechanic Worked as a Pott County Police Corrections Officer/Dispatcher Worked as a Job Corp Driver Security Guard Worked at the Flinthills Internet Provider Currently an IT Specialist with the US Department of Agriculture
Campaign Phone (786) 565-2479
Campaign Email vincent.tracey@cox.net
Education Certified Federal Police Office/K-9/Investigator (Retired) National Certified Firefighter I Certified Emergency Medical Technician - I (Retired)
Community/Public Service Volunteer County Firefighter (retired) Volunteer Treasurer of the RCFD nFirefighters Association (Retired) Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (Retired) Volunteer Range Safety Officer for Fancy Creek Range Deacon volunteer Treasurer of a local Church Member of several Fraternal Organisations supporting KSU Hearing/Speech and Cancer centers Graduate of the Manhattan Citizen's Academy
CampaignPhone (785) 565-2479

Two issues cited by studies as lacking sufficient support in Manhattan are mental health and childcare. Do you agree these are areas of primary importance? If so, how would you address these needs? If not, what other two issues are more important and how would you address those needs?

I agree that these are areas of importance to our community. I also support working to bring more physicians to the Manhattan area. I would be willing to support Pawnee Mental Health in seeking grants to fund their programs. In the childcare arena, I would have to research the existing policies/protocols to see if there are ways to allow more safe places for childcare at prices those most in need of the program can afford. I do not believe a parent should need to have a second job just to afford the cost of childcare.

What is your evaluation of the current level of taxation in Manhattan? If you believe taxes need to be cut, what services would you eliminate or change to balance the budget? If you believe taxes need to be raised, what services would you add that justify the additional expense to the taxpayers?

As a homeowner/taxpayer, I believe that taxation should be held at the current level as we have already committed ourselves to enough taxes. Before attempting to cut any service, the city must look at how better to use what is currently available and where consolidation of services might save funds. We must also look more closely at are we getting the best bang for our buck. Does a proposed service/project/ renovation serve the permanent residents of the city and surrounding area or is its value limited to a specific group or organization? We can’t continue with expansion without first planning the maintenance of the existing infrastructure as well as the proposed increase.

Recently, the commission has asked voters to pass sales tax increases rather than increase property tax. Do you agree with this approach? Why or why not?

I agree that sales taxes on their face spread the cost to all (resident or non-resident) who purchase items, services, and activities in the city and is a better idea than always telling property owners that they must be the source of funding. I do however believe that these same sales tax increases adversely affect those of our working class who can least afford them. What we must be careful of is not raising the sales taxes to such a level that it no longer makes sense to shop/buy or attend events in Manhattan. Many already travel to Junction City, Clay Center or Wamego to enjoy lower costs in acquiring goods or services.

The city funds social services based on recommendations from the Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB). During the last budget cycle, a suggestion was made to limit social services funding to one mill. The argument was that one mill would provide more funding than SSAB currently allocates. What do you think about that proposal?

If true, I could support the idea if all the social service organizations were being provided funds. I think though that not all social services are being funded by the SSAB as I know several church groups have donated funds to some organizations to help them with their expenses.

To support the Riley County Police Department, the city of Manhattan levies property taxes at a rate that funds 80% of RCPD’s budget. Riley County does the same to fund the other 20%. The figures are proportionate to the number of residents in each area who benefit from RCPD’s services. Do you think that is equitable? If yes, why? If no, what would be an equitable proportion for each to pay?

In accordance with KSA 19-4443, this 80/20 split is required by law. Equitable, maybe, maybe not. I know that many county residents do not think they are getting the coverage they think is their due. In that, there is a new Director of Police services and that he has had listening sessions at several towns in Riley County, this might change.

What do you see as the city’s responsibility toward historic preservation and the maintenance of historic properties?

We are a young country in relation to most of the European countries, and if we don’t preserve our history then what will later generations have to look to for our history. If the site has been maintained and the city wouldn’t need to provide large amounts of funding, then these sites should be kept. IF the city made the effort to place the site on the Historic roles then the city should make the effort to ensure the maintenance of the site. This doesn’t mean that outside groups couldn’t assist in the efforts to preserve sites.

Do you see the local government as representative of the community at large? If so, how do you plan to support and/or enhance citizen engagement? If not, what would you suggest to make local government more inclusive?

One of the reasons I am pursuing a place on the Commission is that I don’t think the “common” working class is being equally represented. I hope to bring a balance that helps to resolve the health and food desert situations parts of the city have. Many of our citizens depend on friends to get them to the businesses they must travel to. As is seen daily many depend on the Green Apple bicycles for transportation to and from their destinations. I would hope to be able to hold listening sessions to better gauge what our citizens need/want/ or require.