Candidate Interview, August 3, 2004 Primary Election
Charles Kavanaugh for Western Commissioner - Republican
Text of Warrensburg Free Press article
Interview was conducted at Country Kitchen.
Interview – Charles Kavanaugh for Western Commissioner, Republican
Charles Kavanaugh, a lifelong resident of Johnson County now living in Centerview, is a Republican candidate seeking the open Western Commissioner seat. He cites experience as an oil company operations manager and as operations manager for Carlyle Van Lines as giving him strong qualifications in budgeting and personnel management. While he has no direct experience in government work, he says has a strong knowledge of local issues and has been active in dealing with a number of them. He states that he has extensively discussed the job requirements with current and former commissioners.
Kavanaugh sees safety as a primary issue for the county. He feels that the county will be challenged by health and public safety needs caused by growth. However, he does not see county-wide zoning as an answer and opposed the 1997 proposal; he thinks that effort tried to establish excessively broad controls. He states that rules are needed to support safety and environment, such as the increased junk in the county, but not excessive rules. He feels that some issues, such as sewage, could be dealt with by finding out state rules and regulations and by identifying and working on problem areas. Because of the cost, he thinks this area would have to be addressed slowly. Kavanaugh is wary of a nuisance ordinance and would want any such ordinance to be limited to addressing specific problems that might relate to health or safety. He would support some sort of building code or rules to the extent of electrical or structural safety, but thinks they could be addressed singularly.
Kavanaugh sees the Regional Planning commission as an assist for long range growth planning. He feels that the first priority of economic development efforts should be to help existing industries do well and prosper, stating “we need to take care of what we have.” Nevertheless, he thinks that the county needs to seriously consider working with Warrensburg or other towns on a new industrial park to bring in more industry, by considering land, tax breaks, etc. He does not generally support the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes, but recognizes that it may be needed in certain cases.
Kavanaugh believes that the county’s first priority in road spending should be to maintain and care for existing roads. He thinks that paving priorities should be based on safety needs, such as school bus routes, and supports chip and seal as a way to get more done. He is pleased with the way NW501 (Grosstown Road) has held up since it was first paved and would like to see others similar to that. He recognizes the problems with state roads and believes the county should have a say on their maintenance.
On financial issues, Kavanaugh says that areas like public safety might make him support a tax increase; he supports the need for a new jail but states he is not familiar with the details of the whole plan. He believes that, within the dollars available, the county needs to pay its employees enough to retain their expertise, stating that the county must look at the real cost of turnover. He states he would need to study the budget and talk with the various county offices to determine what their real needs are. He would support an increase in the anti-drug effort and thinks the county should reexamine the allocation of the law enforcement sales tax to reflect population shifts. He thinks the number of county employees probably justifies the commission’s recent creation of the personnel management position.
Kavanaugh states, “I’ve been in the county all my life and I want to give back to the county. The biggest issue is growth; it has to be looked at and addressed, especially in areas like safety, jobs and housing.” He adds, “I want to hear what someone has to say before speaking and actually listen to them. Sometimes the answer will be yes, sometimes no, but not because the constituents haven’t been heard.”