Advance voting has begun at the Harvey County Courthouse, and mail ballots have been sent, for the upcoming city/school election. Below are profiles on the Newton City Commission candidates completed from questionnaires sent by The Kansan and answers to questions at a recent political forum.

Three candidates will be elected to the commission. Two will serve a four-year term and one a two-year term.

 

Christina S. Murphy

Murphy is a transgender female veteran who was born in Wichita. She is a retired truck driver and owner of a transportation company.

 

What is your top goal for the city of Newton?

The 40 years that I drove trucks, the 15 to 20 that I owned trucks, the one thing I was always taught is you never go to your customers for funding. I am all for bringing jobs here, and that means bringing industry. Not just mom and pop shops on Main Street, but big industry. Textiles. We need that here. I see a big need for that. I would love to see the water bills, to do something about the water bills and housing. We need housing, especially for those of low income and underprivileged. We need to develop that, and I think we can get there as a city. It is going to take everyone working together.

 

What makes you qualified to be a commissioner? 

I Joined the Military when I was 17 years old to serve my country so that others that follow would have a better life. After my discharge from the Military I became an over the road truck driver, for over 40 years, while approximately 15 of those years I was an Owner Operator, and ran my own transportation business,  still serving people by bringing them the food clothing and all the things needed to make life easier to live as we know it today. In 2013 I sold out my company due to stricter regulations made on fleet owners. While I enjoyed my many years of service to this country I decided to take a different direction in life. With my diverse background I feel I am uniquely and highly qualified.

 

(I) Glen Davis  

Davis is one of two incumbents running for a seat. He is the owner of Davis Pest Control of Newton.

 

What is your top goal for the city of Newton?

My biggest goal is economic development. I feel like we need to do more on the line getting business coming to Newton, manufacturing jobs and retail businesses for downtown. I think we need to organize and get things going with our economic development.

 

What makes you qualified to be a commissioner?

Pride in the community is an important aspect ... and I am proud to be a Newtonian. That is one of the reasons why I ran for office and one of the reasons why I would like to be reflected is my pride in the community and I have accomplished things and worked with my fellow commissioners hand in hand to get things done. 

 

Lance Gormley  

Gormley is a 37-year-old resident of Newton. He is the former manager of a Dollar General in western Kansas.

 

What your is your top goal for the city of Newton?

I would like to see a development, which we are beginning to see, of the school board, the city and the rec all working together in relationship because we are all pulling from the same funds. I see, in other communities, a lot of effort to get behind what the school district wants or trying to get on the same page so we can look five years down the road and be able to plan what we are going to do. As far as two years, I would really like for us to look and re-evaluate what our water situation is. I make no promises that with water bill that it can be brought down. I just beleive there are other options we have that we have not looked at. I believe that we need to focus on lowering crime and that goes with community policing. We need to go back to the days that you knew your neighbor and neighborhood watch programs.

 

What makes you qualified to be a commissioner?

I have called Newton and Harvey County home for the last 25 years ... There was a situation that happened to me a while back, I worked at Excel during the shooting and it caused me to want to leave. I had gotten sick and tired of the cost of living, the crime we had here and the way I felt the commission was going. I went to and took a job as a regional manager for Dollar General in Kansas for the northwestern region. I loved every minute of it. You can't replace home and I basically got to the point after investing in that community,  I decided I wanted to come back here and invest in this community.

 

 

Antonio E. Sandate

Sandate is a retired post office worker, serving 33 years with the organization. He was born and raised in Newton.

 

What is your top goal for the city of Newton?

For 40 years I was a sports official and traveled all over Kansas doing basketball and softball. I see these towns with a lot to offer, smaller towns than Newton, for kids and adults. It brings people into the town and the town has things to offer their family, whether it is recreation or libraries or something like that. Newton, being on the corridor to Wichita, I believe we are missing the boat as far as economic development. That is a big deal. I am all for working with the commission, the manager and engineers to work on that water problem. That is all I hear when I walk the streets. "How are you going to get that water down?" You know, with your help we can do it.

 

What makes you qualified to be a commissioner?

I am new to the game, but I have watched a lot of games. I want to get involved. Qualified? I look back at things I have done. I have been in banking for a few years, commercial finance, trucking, meat packing, raising kids — not only mine, every summer fall and spring, maybe your grandkids. I aught them what I knew and how to be a good citizen. I have done quite a few things.

 

Clinton McBroom   

McBroom is a pastor in Newton. He has worked in Newton for seven years and lived in Newton "for the past few" years.

 

What is your top goal for the city of Newton?

I would like to see us, in two years, to reduce our debt level. Right now we have $42 million of debt in the city. Twelve million of that is for the sewer plant upgrade. When we talk about water and water rates being high, we pay an extra 38 percent of each sewer charge on your bill is put directly on the debt for that facility. When that debt is paid off, you will get that 38 percent back. I did some research on my own on my own water bill. It is $375 a year we would save, not having to pay the debt service on that. We had to do it many years ago, it is not something we could have avoided. Wichita is facing the same thing. When we talk about water rates, our rate is not bad, it is that 38 percent.

We have a lot of other debt that we accumulated. In 2018 I looked back on our financials for the city. We were $41,495,361 million in debt at the end of the year, and we have a $55 million budget. At my house, we make so many decisions based on whether we can afford it. We need to do the same thing at the city. We want more amenities - we can't afford it. We want to bring more business — we can't afford it. Debt is the big thing I would like to reduce.

 

What makes you qualified to be a commissioner?

It is important that someone brings the experience they have into this, whether it be in business, whether it be in education, service in the community or in other organizations. It matters with your background and it matters what you can do to represent fairly that you can lead us fairly in the right decisions and help us find the balance in our budget. Our biggest job revolves around financial stuff, and that matters. With a master's in business and masters' in Christian Ministries — which is running nonprofit organizations — I look forward to representing the city n that matter and applying what I have learned and the experience that I have had. 

 

Richard E. Stinnett  

Stinnett has lived in Newton for eight years. He is a veteran who is now the president of a nonprofit technology company in Wichita.

 

What is your top goal for the city of Newton?

The city is using cash reserves to plug a budget gap.  With expenses outpacing revenues the commission, and city manager and staff have a lot of work ahead to close this budget gap. In the short term, controlling spending will help but it is only half the equation. Newton is a great town, and a long-term goal is to expand the tax base and to continue building a community where people want to live. This means affordable housing, and amenities that people want such as schools, parks, libraries, restaurants and entertainment. If we are successful building a community that people want to move to, the tax base will grow, and more jobs and amenities will follow.

 

What makes you qualified to be a commissioner?

During my career in the military, as an IT consultant, and currently as president of a non-profit technology company I have had to manage budgets, projects and people. My role in each of those chapters of my career has been to leverage my skills as a problem solver, critical thinker, and collaborative leader to deliver creative solutions and increased opportunities for those I serve. In addition to several Technology certifications, I have an undergrad in Business in Management and a Master’s in Business Administration. I bring to the table a willingness to learn and a passion for service.

 

(I) Rodney C. Kreie    

Kreie is an incumbent, appointed to the commission when mayor/commissioner David Nygaard died.

 

What is your top goal for the city of Newton?

Our biggest issue is that we have no common vision. It is very much appreciated that city departments take great pride in what they do. However, that doesn’t always seem to connect with the direction the city might need to take to become more competitive for people and businesses looking for somewhere to locate.

With citizens unhappy about their city utility bills and property taxes, one viable alternative is to tighten city spending until we can do things to help increase our valuation. We need more people to pay taxes and not more taxes for people to pay. A city that’s not growing is essentially dying.

We can’t spend our way into a growth pattern. Taxpayers have spoken loudly. They are not willing to fund local government that cannot clearly show a vision for growth. Never has it been more important to find a new city manager that represents and leads our community working in tandem with a commission that understands the importance of a methodical plan that a majority of the community can get behind. Otherwise, we will continue to want the same libraries, swimming pools, ball fields and other amenities we’ve wanted for the last 20 years.

 

What makes you qualified to be a commissioner?

I am a CPA. I was in public practice for 25 plus years and performed city audits and budgeting. I am a previous City Councilman. I’ve done consulting for municipalities — both financial and economic development. I have developed my own projects and been involved with community economic development for almost four decades. I’ve been involved with several business startups — CAD System software, medical equipment rental, farming, bioscience and others.