Candidate Interview, August 6, 2002 Primary
Presiding Commissioner - John Hart (Democrat)
For Warrensburg Free Press August 1 issue
John Hart of rural Warrensburg is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Presiding Commissioner. He has been a Johnson County resident for 28 years and has worked in various capacities, including farming 22 years and delivery for Heet Gas for 7+ years. He also managed his own recycling business from 1998 until earlier this year, when he sold his equipment to his current employer.
Hart’s political experience features a 2 year term as Eastern Commissioner in 1991-92. He has also been a volunteer for the emergency management function of the county. He states that his philosophy of government is to “do what the people expect you to do – this is how taxpayers want their money spent.”
Hart sees the paving program as one that will involve the commission for many years and will require wise decision making by the Commission as various people want their roads done first. He believes that the most heavily traveled roads should be done first. He also thinks that continued ditching and brush clearing work on gravel roads is important.
Hart believes that the jail needs to be replaced. He says that the law enforcement sales tax was sold to the voters with a promise to fix or replace the jail, and taxpayers need to get what they voted for. He is not sure of how the sales tax is currently allocated to various jurisdictions, but believes that the ballot language put the allocation within the authority of the Commission. He believes that the jail should have been built before the justice center.
Hart notes the county’s growth, saying “I’m not for zoning, but some avenues need to be regulated.” He also believes that building codes, which everyone should vote on, are needed for safety reasons. On areas like sewage and nuisance, he points out that county powers are limited by state statute, but he has not looked into what the county is or is not authorized to do. One area that nuisance ordinances could control might be noise.
Hart believes that county revenue sources should be equal to the needs as growth has increased the tax base. While he has not kept up with county pay scales, he believes that the county must pay people well to keep good employees. He notes that law enforcement budgets have increased significantly in the county but has not reviewed the details.
Hart also believes that the emergency management function needs to be improved to better handle disasters by reestablishing the emergency operations center and providing adequate staff and training. He notes that inadequate preparation means slower response to needs, especially considering that in addition to natural disasters, Whiteman AFB could provide a target for terrorist action.
Hart also favors development of county-wide facilities for recycling.
If elected, Hart says, “I will work to do my best to make sure the county is well taken care of and the citizens are well taken care of.”