1. Age 53 years. Married in 1980 to Susie (Beckman) Longwell. Daughter, Angela and son-in-law Scott Pankratz, and granddaughter Marissa; twin sons, Ryan and Bryan. Longtime resident of west Wichita. Attended West High School and Wichita State University. Member at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Knight of Columbus Council 4118.
2. President of Ad Astra Print Resources. Vice president Ad Astra Print Resources 2008-present, marketing director for The Print Source 2005-2008, general manager for Thermal Trade Graphics 1984-2005.
Elected as Wichita Distirct 5 city council member in April 2007. Twelve years on Maize Board of Education including serving as president, vice president, government relations representative and Journey to Excellence strategic planning team. Service six years on Catholic Family Federal Credit Union board of directors. WSU West-Side Campus Advisory Board member, Northwest YMCA board member, Trans-net advisory board member, Sunrise Rotary Club charger member, Sunrise Rotary Club president.
3. Making government smaller and more efficient. I would start by using success from the past and privatize some functions that government should not be handling to deliver services more efficiently.
Public safety initiatives for Sedgwick County citizens. Work to improve emergency response times for ambulance and other critical first responders.
Focus our economic development policies. Establish policies to promote growth and build a healthier business climate to allow our local businesses to succeed while attracting new opportunities.
1. I am married with two children. I am 62 years old. I am an Eagle Boy Scout. I was an executive director working on behalf of taxpayers for 16 years at the Kansas Taxpayers Network prior to my election to the county commission in 2008. My education is: bachelor of arts, Ohio University, majoring in economics & political science; master of arts, Ohio University in economics. I have lived in Sedgwick County since 1978. I represented Kansas in the U.S. Triathlon Series National Championship in the age group competition in 1987 and have completed marathons.
2. I have international business experience travelling in Asia in the computer industry and worked under then Gov. Ronald Reagan’s California Dept. of Finance as a budget analyst from 1973-75. I served eight years (1995-2003) on the Wichita Library Board where I chaired the finance committee, and was elected treasurer and secretary of this board. I was elected to the city of Wichita’s Citizen Participation Organization and served on both the District 3 and 5 boards.
3. While the budget problem facing Sedgwick County is the most immediate issue that must be addressed by county commissioners, the underlying problem is the economy. People are hurting and the economy is performing poorly. Taxable assessed value in Sedgwick County is now declining. There are important steps that we should take to strengthen our county’s economy.
The economy needs to reduce the amount of tax uncertainty created by government. I am concerned about the uncertainty created by government and want to require that Sedgwick County would follow in the footsteps of several of our neighboring states and require that any county tax hikes must be approved by voters. This has been working in Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma for decades and is one major reason that job creators have a significant advantage in those states over Kansas entrepreneurs. Voter approval of property tax hikes is also important protection for citizens on fixed incomes. Property taxes are lower in those states with this voter empowerment.
I oppose efforts from the Obama regime to impose federal development rules through the “sustainability,” Agenda 21 grants from HUD/EPA onto our county and local governments. I have voted against these grant proposals three times since I joined the commission.
I support a level economic playing field for everyone and oppose Tax Increment Financing (TIF) special taxpayer subsidy districts. I have fought for eminent domain reform in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s infamous and activist Kelo decision that limits property rights. I have fought for emiment domain reform at the state level and voted against eminent domain usage as a commissioner.
I have voted to lower the county’s mill levy during my first term in office and voted against budgets that would raise the mill levy and spending last year. The county’s mill levy is lower today than when I joined the commission and I am proud of that fact.
I led the voter referendum to keep Sedgwick County under the statutory property tax lid in 1997. I fought local property tax hikes repeatedly in the last 20 years, and worked on the statewide mill levy reduction that took the state’s 36.5 mill property tax levy down to 21.5 mills in 1997-98 as a taxpayers’ advocate at the Kansas statehouse.
During my time as a county commissioner the county’s checkbook was opened in 2009 to everyone accessing the county’s web site. Detailed county spending information is now available online that other governmental bodies in Kansas do not provide.
The county’s credit rating has been upgraded while I was on the commission. Sedgwick County now is at the highest level from all three rating agencies. In fact, Sedgwick County’s rating, according to S&P, is now higher than the federal government’s.
I have served for several years on the county’s Citizens Justice Coordinating Council that has worked to address the county’s jail overcrowding problem. The expanded pre-trial service program along with other diversion programs and ending the free rider problem at the jail has resulted in a drop of over 250 low level offenders being kept out of the jail saving roughly $6 million last year over the 2009 levels. While this is a major improvement, the challenge of keeping this community safe at as reasonable a cost as possibleon is a continuing challenge.