1. Should the city extend non-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation? If so, should an exemption be permitted for religious beliefs?
It is my opinion that the voters spoke in the 2011 elections. I have stated this in forums when the question is posed. And no I am not supportive of brining this issue forward. However, I believe we need to take a hard introspective look at ourselves and our community. I supported the LBGT ordinance as a commissioner only after campaigning and finding that this was a much deeper question. As I visited with citizens in Manhattan in 2011, I found that this was much deeper than sexual orientation. I heard comments like, “We want the right people living in Manhattan”, or “I should get to chose who I am willing to do business with” and “We really didn’t need the Civil Rights Amendment”. This became very personal for me and my family. Who is the right person and who will be accepted? Two of my children are Hispanic and I have received negative comments concerning people of Hispanic origin living in Manhattan. This becomes very personal to me. I am not sure how we as a city respond, as this is a very sensitive issue but as a commissioner, I believe we need to understand the underlying issues and educate ourselves and work together to become a much more inclusive city.
2. To what extent would you favor exploration of inter-governmental consolidation?
I believe we need to look first at areas where we can share costs, such as purchasing, specific internal services like vehicle/equipment maintenance, IT, etc. It is interesting that the one area that causes the most controversy is RCPD, which is a consolidated service. It highlights many of the issues of consolidation such as the political side of Sherriff vs. Police. Our system works well but many outside of the city believe they are under covered. Again, how does this play out in other areas of consolidation. It also needs to be noted that Manhattan straddles two county lines, Riley and Pottawatomie and that dynamic will come into play. More importantly it takes not just the citizens of Manhattan but also in a separate ballot, the citizens of Riley County to approve the merger by majority vote, independently. I believe we should look for better cooperation and collaboration first. While some of our missions (city/county) are similar, we do serve different populations and needs.
3. Do you think the city needs a vicious/dangerous breed ordinance?
This has been a difficult topic for quite some time. This was discussed and the ordinance amended in 2007. It holds owners of some breeds to a higher standard and I believe to date this has worked well. While there have been some incidents since 2007, it does not appear to be a significant problem. Each of us have our own opinion on what breeds should or shouldn’t be allowed but it seems to boil down to an incident and whatever breed is involved. At this time I believe pet owners need to understand their pet and take appropriate precautions. While my personal belief is much different, as a commissioner, I must look at the city as a whole. I don’t believe we need to take this further at this time.
4. Do you think the city needs to do more with gun control?
At the present time the City aligns with the state, per our City Attorney. I believe this is satisfactory. The real culprit in the discussion is the “why” of the “shooters”. I believe more funds to mental health is warranted and enforcement of the laws on the books today.
5. Should the city revisit a rental inspection program?
No. Over the past two years there has been a significant increase in the level and quality of competition for rental properties in Manhattan. This has cause a movement to better, all of which I have publicly stated in forums over the past several weeks. While I believe there are properties that are substandard, we do have enforcement mechanisms in place to handle these issues. Education of the tenants could be improved and tenants should not feel threatened if they find themselves having to report issues to the Code Department. This topic has been ongoing since 1988 but it appears that the free market is doing well to bring more competition to the market. I believe we should explore neighborhood revitalization opportunities in some of the older areas of Manhattan that have many “converted” single family homes to bring them back to single family and make them affordable.
6. Should the city build, expand or improve its Parks and Rec Department offices?
I have voted to support this already. If anyone has been to the P&R offices, it is obvious a change is needed. It appears that there are additional improvements to service that can come to the P&R department if the offices are relocated to city hall and the commission has asked for that data as we continue to review the project. It is also an opportunity to renovate the city auditorium to increase gym space that has now been diminished with many of the grade school renovations, putting additional pressure on the auditorium. The tax consequence is minimal to zero to accomplish this but the final decision will be based on the overall savings shown, prior to the commission approval that would mitigate any property tax consequences. If this is tax neutral then I will support the effort.