Four candidates vying for commission seat
Four candidates will be vying for the Republican nomination for the Third District seat on the Cloud County board of commissioners in the primary election, scheduled for August 4.
Incumbent Bill Garrison, Miltonvale, did not file for re-election to the position after serving one term.
Candidates seeking the seat include Ron Copple, Concordia; Gail Engle, Concordia; Michael Haley, Delphos; and Lance Lagasse, Concordia.
Copple is a lifelong resident of Cloud County. He graduated from Concordia High School and worked in construction for a company in Wichita.
An employee of the city of Concordia for 36 years, Copple has served as the Public Works director for 19 years.
Engle served two terms on the county commission from 2008-2016. He was defeated in the 2016 primary by Garrison.
After serving in the United States Navy, Engle worked in the cable television industry for 30 years. While on the county commission he was the president of the Kansas County Commissioners Association in 2015 and the vice president in 2014.
Haley is a farmer and cattleman in southern Cloud County. He worked for Phillips Lighting in Salina for more than 15 years before going into farming full time in 2011.
Lagasse is a lifelong resident of Cloud County. He is a self-employed real estate broker and auctioneer as well was being a land owner and rental property owner.
Each of the candidates was asked to provides answers to two questions.
1. If elected, what are the key issues you feel need to be addressed by the Cloud County board of commissioners:
Copple - One of my goals is to keep the mill levy approximately the same while keeping revenue streams consistent. Another need is to improve or establish a Capital Improvement Program to address infrastructure (roads, bridges, builds, etc.) in the county.
Engle - With these trying times I think safety is a main concern. Also I think the commission should resume the intergovernmental meetings. And I believe, as always, budgeting is very important. I have some ideas and I know I can work well with the other two commissioners.
Haley - Our current county commission board has done a good job in the last four years keeping everything up. The two things that are always brought up are roads and taxes. In my area, our roads are very good because the neighbors and I have spent money on gravel to keep our roads in good condition. The infrastructure of our county is at the top of the list to keep our road and bridge department funded and to keep ours safe and in great condition. Taxes is the second thing that is a never-ending discussion amongst everyone. The best thing as a commissioner that can be done is watch spending and that all departments do as much as possible to reduce what they can. It will take all of the county entities to make this possible. With the county mill levy as it is, it should be enough to sustain us.
Lagasse - Budgeting efficiently, keeping spending in check.
2. What is the most important task the Cloud County board of commissioners performs in guiding the county, and why?
Copple - The most important task of the Cloud County board of commissioners is implementing and overseeing the budget. The county commissioners should be good stewards of the taxing dollars. When implementing policies, I will consider my district but also what is best for the entire county. Our decisions made today, affect our future and the future of our children.
Engle - With possible decreases in revenue due to the pandemic, I think additional revenue plus emergency funding through grants from federal and state will be necessary. With possible expansion of our jail and new wind farms coming to Cloud County our revenues could increase.
Haley - All of the tasks of the board of commissioners are important, but the two biggest are equal: watch what we spend, we don't want to be in a position of having a shortfall, and on any of our large projects, pay attention and make sure everything is going properly. If we can succeed with this it will make our county more attractive to new business which means growth and more opportunity for everyone. Along with this, do what we need to do to attract new business to our county. Another one is if someone talks to a commissioner about a problem, listen to them, look into it, see what the problem is, do corrective measures if needed, but get BACK with that person and let them know it was looked at.
Lagasse - I believe the most important issue is serving the taxpayers of Cloud County by keeping taxes in check. I believe the county commissioners' role is to manage the budget, maintain policy, and maintain the infrastructure of the county, in a reasonable manner.