Seven candidates have filed for the three open Pittsburg City Commission spots.

Seven candidates have filed for the three open Pittsburg City Commission spots.
The top two vote-getters will serve four-year terms, while the third-place finisher will serve a two-year term. Their answers to The Morning Sun’s candidate survey are below.

Pittsburg City Commission
Name: Marty Beezley
Age: 62
Occupation: Community Advocate
Family: Husband, Pittsburg veterinarian, Dr. Pat Beezley, two grown children and one grandchild.
Related Experience: Graduate of Pittsburg State University, graduate of Leadership Crawford County and Leadership Kansas, Past-president of Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, a Founder of Pittsburg Beautiful, President of The Family Resource Center Board, Mt. Carmel Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees, President Sunflower Foundation Board of Trustees.

Name: Rudy Draper
Age: 31
Occupation: Millers professional imaging/Kansas National Guard
Family: Married to Tricia Draper and I have 4 kids Tyler, Hunter, Elizabeth, Kaitlyn
Related Experience: 2 years as current commissioner, 12 years serving the public in the military

Name: John Ketterman
Age: 53
Occupation: Disabled
Family: Married, 4 children, 10 grandchildren
Related Experience: I am a member of Mirza Shrine and president of the Mirza Chefs. I also am senior deacon of the Masonic Lodge, where we use Robert’s Rules of Order and work with budgets. I have both sales and management experience, and have experience working with the public through my time in law enforcement. My wife and I were both Sunday school teachers.

Edward (Ed) McCullough
Age: 52
Occupation: Owner: Affordable Lock and Key, WTI Student
Family: Wife:  Patricia of 32 years’ Daughter:  Shawna Compton and husband Matthew, 3 Children of Pittsburg; Son: Curtis McCullough and wife Lindsay, 1 Child of Ft Scott
Related experience: Former Supervision and Management at Superior Industries -19 years; Business Owner:  Affordable Lock and Key; 34 Year Resident of Pittsburg

Name: Connie C. McGeorge
Age: 63
Occupation: Personal Banker at M & I Marshall and Ilsley Bank
Family: Married 45 years, 2 children son and daughter
Related Experience: Presently serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission

Name: Patrick O'Bryan
Age: 63
Occupation: Owner of Little's Inc.
Related Experience:    Owning and running my business has taught me many skills which relate back to the job of City Commissioner like budgets, working with people, strategizing.  I have served on a number of boards.  I was on the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce for over ten years serving as the President during one term. I was also on the Stilwell Board and have founded and served as President of the Downtown Merchant Organization.  For the past 7 years the responsibility of raising funds for and the maintenance of the Downtown Christmas Lighting.

Name: Tina Smith
Age: 44
Occupation: State & Federal Programs Coordinator, USD 250
Family: Married/4 Children
Related Experience: Co-developer, Crawford County Youth Leadership Program (Chamber of Commerce); co-chair, Kids Voting Kansas (Crawford County); Pittsburg Citizen’s Advisory Board; Immediate Past President, Pittsburg Noon Kiwanis

1) What are the biggest issues facing the city?

Beezley — “Continuing to prosper in the current economic downturn is a major concern. Several months ago we scrutinized the budget line by line to see what items could be cut, where funds could be conserved or projects delayed. We have not filled positions of those that have resigned or retired unless they jeopardize the level of service to the public. The city is committed to providing water and sewer service and police and fire protection — those services will not be diminished in quality. However, other services could change temporarily. Losing Superior Industries, Altec and National Mills and the service fees and tax dollars they generated was a major blow to Pittsburg. I don’t want to lose that workforce from our area. Also, I am concerned for the well-being of our existing businesses. Maintaining or replacing both an outdated sewer system and residential streets are constant but critical expenditures.”

Draper — “In the last 2 years as being your commissioner there have been many issues that have challenged me and have been successfully met, but as we all know there are several huge issues that will challenge us to the most extreme, one being the economy. We will need to focus on the little things to work though this tough time. Creating great relations with existing businesses to help maintain our current employment. I believe communications and giving the public the truth will help push us through this downward economy. Another issue that I see as just as important is bringing this community together developing relationships with a variety of entities including all levels of the community. If we believe in this city together we can become one together. I will bring the commission to the community.”

Ketterman — “The biggest issues facing Pittsburg today are taxes, loss of businesses and jobs. The economy has devastated everybody including the city. There are several areas in town that need attention. Roads, water lines, equality for all city employees, long term water supply issues are some of them.”

McCullough — “I would like to help Pittsburg all I can, to come out of the economical crisis with all Pittsburg residents standing tall. Also I would like to help Pittsburg become more attractive to industries that are looking for a home.”

McGeorge — “The economy is one of the cities biggest issues at this time. We just built a new fire station and a new police station which is to paid for from sales tax. Through February our sales tax was down 6%. Unemployment is another issue. Pittsburg’s unemployment rate has risen to 8.7. This is due partially to the closing of Superior Industries which employed around 600 people, and the closing of National Mills and Altec.”

O’Bryan — “We have several large issues facing us today. With revenues declining from all of our sources it is imperative that we control spending: Not to quit spending, but making sure that each dollar that goes out does the most good for the city. The need of our city go on during these times and we do have money to spend so the need to prioritize is more important than ever. Streets need to be maintained and some improved. The water plant is in the design stage for a renovation. Services to our citizens need to be maintained. We can do these things and still keep to our budget without adding new taxes by raising the mill level even though we will not be receiving an increase because of the stagnant property valuations that just came out. Another big issue is jobs.”

Smith — “• Sustaining a quality of life for the residents of Pittsburg. We live, work, send our children to school and play here. We need to  continually aim to preserve and enhance the integrity of our city and  serve our citizens in the way they wish to be served. • Budgetary items and economic development go  hand in hand. It will be challenging to meet the needs of a growing city  and plan accordingly for growth and progress. • Vision for the future — we need to  create a long-term plan that is based on the community’s vision for  what makes this a great place to live.”

2) How can the city fight through a tight budget while continuing to move forward?
 
Beezley — “Curtail spending. City funds must be spent wisely, if at all. Capitalize on stimulus projects and pursue matching funds at the state and federal level. Then, we must evaluate whether those projects, even with matching funds, are vital, necessary, and affordable. All efforts must be exhausted to bring industry to Pittsburg to replace those jobs that have been lost. Every day, economic development must be priority one at City Hall. It is necessary that our infrastructure be constantly maintained so that it works well and lasts longer. We must curb employee health care costs and reduce overtime when possible. We all have a role to play in getting our city through tough times. Each of us can help with the appearance of the city and make it attractive to perspective business and industry. Shop and spend money in Pittsburg.”

Draper — “This is the one issue that will continue to be a challenge for all of us over the next couple of years. There are several things that I would like to do immediately to help alleviate some of the issues. I will cut all casual spending, and I will again cut more vehicles from our books and create a buddy system so fewer vehicles are needed and less fuel and less insurance. It will benefit us as an immediate cost savings to the city and our citizens. We can make this happen by continuing the growth and stabilization of our infrastructure, and continuing the programs that will benefit all or our citizens.”

Ketterman — “The only way to fight through any budget crunch is to cut out all non-essential spending and try to bring in more money without raising taxes. This may be able to be done by attracting businesses and creating jobs to increase the tax base.”

McCullough — “All people regardless of their age or disposition need to feel that they are apart of this community, no matter how large or small that role is, we need to make Pittsburg more attractive to the residents. We need to ask the peoples opinions, and a great way to find out what the people are saying is to have an opinion poll on the cities Web site. This would benefit the city in their decision making process, and it would allow all citizens to have a voice in the community.”

McGeorge — “The city must make cuts in spending. We could do this by putting a freeze on hiring. We could also put a freeze on wages until we get through this economic down fall. We need to cut things like overtime wherever possible. Could look at Comp time so if employee had to work overtime they would be able to take off work at a later time. If need be we could look at possibly refinancing our bond indebtedness for a lower rate. We need to be good stewards of the citizens tax dollars.”

O’Bryan — “This job is already underway. Our sales tax has fallen. Monies from the state, while not finalized, are being cut. Knowing that these and more decreasing incomes are with us for an indefinite period of time the city has already undertaken a number of belt tightening measures. Our Interim City Manager has been adjusting hiring through a selective hiring freeze. Mr. Van Gorden has gone back into the budget and eliminated or cut back on a number of items that can be done without, or modified to some extent, at this time. The commission is looking at each expenditure carefully to see if it is a high priority before authorizing. The city knows that to weather this economic downturn cost savings have to be addressed in each department.”

Smith — “Proactive planning. While budget is a looming issue, we cannot let fear lead us into inaction. We need visionary leadership to prepare Pittsburg for a 21st century economy. Evaluating the budget and ensuring we are good stewards of the taxpayer’s money is an ongoing process that should be coupled with a comprehensive master plan that is not only bricks and mortar but is visionary in its approach. We should consider what the jobs of the future look like and actively pursue the recruitment of these types of firms to Pittsburg. We can then prepare ourselves and look at training opportunities to create a workforce able and ready to step into these roles. Moving forward is a mindset and together we can build a sense of community that unifies us around a vision for the future.”

3) What can be done to help stimulate Pittsburg’s economy?

Beezley — “The completion of Highway 69 to the Oklahoma border is crucial to the future of Pittsburg and Southeast Kansas. The highway will bring jobs and much needed prosperity to this area. We have been told there is no money for this project. City leaders must continue to make our presence known in Topeka and Washington D.C. We will soon learn what, if any, stimulus money will flow to Pittsburg. Elected officials along with city staff have prioritized projects that will put people to work and be more cost efficient upon completion. Pittsburg is fortunate to have a Revolving Loan Fund that is funded from 50% of a one-half cent sales tax instituted in March 1986. Proceeds are limited to uses that promote economic development. These funds have been crucial in assisting existing businesses and the recruitment of new business, and are an invaluable tool in our economy.”

Draper — “Continue to reach out and bring in new business, keeping economic development at the forefront and communicating with existing businesses. I also believe that economic development starts at the lowest levels, starting with neighborhoods and housing. As commissioner I have created a housing and neighborhood committee that specifically targets landlords and homeowners, and to utilize existing programs and create new ones to help upkeep their homes to promote quality living for all of our citizens. By stimulating our housing new businesses will see that quality neighborhoods and housing will help keep a workforce ready for them to tap into. This is where we need to start in stimulating our economy.”

Ketterman — “People have to have the money to spend to help the economy. By the time they pay, rent, utilities and food, there is very little left. Wages have not kept up with the cost of living. Possibly we could create more festivals or attractions like Little Balkans day, July 4th, more stage shows, etc., to draw in more outside money to help stimulate Pittsburg’s economy.

McCullough — “Looking for ways to improve Pittsburg’s economy and bring industry to the community is of up most importance. And to make these things happen, we need to make Pittsburg more attractive to the Citizens, to Business Owners and to the Industries.”

McGeorge — “We need to be conservative. We need to partnership with PSU, Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown Revitalization to help possibly bring in new business and new jobs. We need to look at ways to help our existing businesses so they can stay viable. We need to keep working on 69 corridor to help bring in growth.”

O’Bryan —  “Our first priority is to take care of industries already located here so that those ongoing jobs are secure. We need to see that what the city can do for them is and continues to be done. As an ongoing item we are working to bring new industry to the city. We are in contact with the state economic director working to showcase Pittsburg and to be appraised of industries that are looking for a location and what they need to relocate, what incentives they need and building and workforce are necessary. We have a number of these leads that we are working on at this time.”

Smith — “First we focus on supporting existing businesses in Pittsburg because they have made a commitment to the community. Through listening sessions determine what these business owners feel is successful and what areas they need support from the City. Secondly, study what types of new businesses we can attract to the community that compliment our current offerings. Seek input from a diverse group of community participants for inspiration and brainstorm possible unique experiences we could provide that would draw the attention of surrounding areas. The City should continue to practice on-going collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce to create an aggressive shop local marketing campaign. This can include participation incentives for both consumer and business owner. We want to help our businesses keep people employed and hopefully add to their workforce. Keeping our tax dollars at home and building revenue for our community is key to stimulating Pittsburg’s economy.”

4) What do you see as the city’s big needs in terms of future construction?

Beezley — “The intersection at Broadway and 20th Street is dangerous and congested and must be reconstructed. KDOT has offered matching funds to aid in the construction but the project remains too costly due to land acquisition. As the city continues to grow south, Rouse Street needs to be widened with shoulders added. The State has cut sources of funding for street construction and maintenance making road and street projects more difficult. The City Master Plan and the FAA has had construction of a parallel taxiway for the main runway on the books for 15 years, it will likely happen in the next five years. In the distant future the Crawford County Corridor (bypass) will be built. In preparation, property must be acquired, roads built at Atkinson, Fourth and Centennial streets, utilities provided and infrastructure built. We must determine what will be done with the armory, former public safety center and fire station.”

Draper — “In the near and far future I see a real need in upgrading the city’s infrastructure. One is a project in the works and that is an upgrade of our water plant. We have an outdated plant and need to upgrade on technology for future growth of our city and overall plant efficiency. I also see the need for several expansions on our roads such as widening Quincy Street from Broadway to Rouse, improving the intersection at 20th and Broadway, and one of my most important is putting an overpass over the railroad track on rouse and Randell drive. I believe that the safety for emergency vehicles and our citizens utilizing the hospital is of the utmost concern and should be addressed now and not later.”

Ketterman — “First need would have to be the water treatment plant upgrades. Along with that there are a lot of water lines that need to be replaced. I know it's not a popular topic, but the longer we wait the more it is going to cost. Re-paving a lot of side streets is needed and the parallel taxiway and runway extension at the airport will be able to land larger aircraft to recruit more companies to the area.”

McCullough — “Our citizens and family traditions, PSU and our educational system and Mt. Carmel and our medical facilities.”

McGeorge — “We need to look at infrastructure to the west. Although it may be several years before we get 69 Highway through, we need to be planning for the streets, water, sewer, lighting and etc. that will be needed to feed the corridor. We need to continue looking at our water treatment plant. There have been several times in recent years when the plant operated at maximum capacity. We need to look at potential new water sources. Future growth and expanded water supply capacity. We need to look at how we can repair some of our main through streets such as Quincy. At the same time we need to keep up with repairs on other streets. Although we just finished the storm water project on Joplin, we need to look at flooding in other areas of Pittsburg. If we fix the flooding problems it will also help protect our streets from deteriorating.”

O’Bryan — “The city has a number of construction projects that we are looking at. We have a number of road construction projects on our list. The first priority is East Quincy. We desperately need to widen and rebuild east Quincy, from Broadway to Rouse. This road carries heavy traffic as it is one of the main routes into the PSU campus. The load will only increase as the university builds new housing along Joplin and the enrollment keeps increasing. We continually look for some funding help for the Federal and or State Government for this project as this will be extremely expensive to do. We are in the process of a extensive renovation job at our water plant. We are almost at our production limit at this time. With the exit of Superior our load has lowered and this gives us breathing room.”

Smith — “The need to maintain the current infrastructure while planning accordingly to be prepared for growth is a critical need. The Water Treatment Plant project addresses issues with the current plant that has operated at capacity on numerous occasions to handle summer demands. Roads and bridges needing attention will continue to be a challenge due to the rising cost of materials and funding shortfalls. I would really like input from the citizens as to what their priorities would be in regard to future construction needs.”

5) Why should you be elected to the Pittsburg City Commission?

Beezley — “During my years as a city commissioner there have been great strides in Pittsburg. As mayor I led the campaign to build a public safety center and fire station. I worked tirelessly to assist in the planning, design and acquisition of funds for the Downtown Revitalization project. I planned with the developers of Town Center as it became a reality and brought major retailers to our community. I am supportive of our existing businesses and as a commissioner have encouraged and voted to support many improvement and expansion projects. Even though this job is purely volunteer and sometimes difficult, I consider it an honor. I work hard to represent all of the citizens of Pittsburg. I have a sense of accomplishment when I answer a constituent’s question and help resolve a problem. I am knowledgeable, experienced and respectful of my constituents.”
 
Draper — “There are several reasons why I should be elected to the city commission. I believe that I can represent all the citizens of Pittsburg and bring this community together and build a relationship not seen in recent years. I have the experience to help this community in any situation my 12 years in the military, 8 in the Marines and 4 in the Kansas National Guard, gives me the edge in community relations. I have dealt with many communities and several disasters as a leader. Most of all I love this community I have lived here 31 years and Pittsburg means everything to me the only thing I love more than this community is my family.”

Ketterman — “I will take a common sense approach and will work to bring fairness to all parts of the city. I will listen and make the fairest decision I can for everybody involved.”

McCullough – “My experience in supervision and management has taught me, when making decisions, to utilize all input given. That is what I will do when working for the citizens of Pittsburg. I will take all advice given and try to make all citizens feel that they are a part of the decision process.”

McGeorge — “I was born and raised in Pittsburg so I have a deep love for the city.
I will be a good steward of the citizens money. I will do my best to help find ways to get Pittsburg through these economic times and bring in new business. I will work to get 69 highway through Pittsburg. This is a way I can give back to the community. I have no ax to grind.”

O’Bryan — “I think that it is imperative that I be elected. At this time, with all of the financial unrest that we are experiencing, continuity is important. I have been working with this team that is in place for two years. We are all focused on what is going on with the city and have a direction in place. The City Commission works well together and with the Interim City Manager. Today is not the time for a change in leadership. Having been in business on Broadway for over 40 years I have a true history with the city and the community at large. I know that progress is important and that be fiscally responsible is equally important. To do both of these jobs at once is a true balancing act that 40 years of business experience has taught me.”

Smith — “I offer a practical, common sense approach in representing the people of Pittsburg. The way we feel about our community directly impacts our level of involvement and a positive outlook can help us be catalysts for growth. I support collaboration, creating diverse partnerships and providing opportunity for participation. I respect the past and have hope for the future. I am a listener by nature and I will represent fairly the citizens of Pittsburg. I am willing to learn and will be proactive in serving objectively. I will advocate transparency in city business, seek input from our citizens, and will work to provide accessibility to easily understandable updates and information. This is my first run for an elected position. My overall goal is to be witness to a positive experience so that I may encourage other community members to consider running in future elections.”

COMING UP
Tuesday — Frontenac City Council
Wednesday — Girard City Council
Thursday — Arma City Council