Question 1: What is your motivation in running for the First District seat on the county commission?
Toner: I feel it is time for someone to sit on the commission that is not retired and can relate to people of Kiowa Co. that live paycheck to paycheck. I have started up four businesses in Kiowa Co. and understand the hardships of running a business in a small town. I have lived here most of my life. I tend to be brutally honest when expressing my views.
Question 2: What do you think has been the most difficult challenge faced by the county commission since 5/4/07 and how have they fared in responding to it?
Toner: The management of funds that were provided by federal, state and donations received. Using them in an ethical manner for the good of the majority of the people in the county. Vanity has far outweighed sensibility.
Question 3: What has been the commission’s greatest achievement the past three years?
Toner: To (have) squandered millions of dollars and to send the County down the road of no return with lavish building that we will not be unable to maintain. To support the agenda of small groups that in many cases were not the wishes of the majority of the taxpayers.
Question 4: Name a specific area in which you think the commission has come up short the past three years.
Toner: Although Greensburg was and needed to be the focus of attention, they have failed to fairly represent the people outside of Greensburg.
Question 5: With John Wickland now in place as director of KCCA the county’s senior program appears to be on sound footing. Give your assessment of how the commission has dealt with the senior program since the tornado.
Toner: The seniors have been treated very unfair. They are one of the greatest assets we have. By shoring up their weak points and supply them with the resources they need, I feel they can and will be a productive part of our recovery. They have and will unite as one to reach a common goal if we take the time to let them know what they can do to help their community.
Question 6: What are your thoughts on instituting a countywide sales tax of between ½ and a full cent for a period of five to 10 years to build a fund that could be used by the economic development board, or a coalition of the county’s municipalities to encourage small to medium sized employers (15 to 40 employees) to locate here?
Toner: The people I have talked to say they leave town to shop because it is cheaper. The profit margins in a small town are lower. This will make it worse and drive more people out of town to shop on the big ticket sales. Do we have that much unemployment of employable people? Can it not be fixed by promoting and supporting those that have stayed and invested in our community. Has the development board done a good job thus far of promoting our county? Last time I looked their director (Bob Wetmore, who commutes from Dodge) lived out of county. He puts no kids in our schools and pays no property taxes in our county.
Question 7: What are your views on the KCCA being able to use any of the remaining funds dispersed to them by the County since 5/4/07 to erect a permanent structure as a county senior center? (This would be in addition to the insurance proceeds and any donations they may have.)
Toner: I don't know what the law is on how the money can be used. I think if I was in charge the law would need to be followed. But then there is the point of why has this been a hold up on the KCCA center and not on the commons?
Question 8: Four commissioners have served since 5/4/07—Earl Liggett and Ron Freeman short term; Gene West and Don Richards for the duration. Which of them do you think has been most effective in working with the City of Greensburg and the available resources at the County’s disposal, including governmental agencies, in bringing Kiowa County back from the devastation of the storm? Please explain your choice with specific examples.
Toner: The question is wrong in so many ways. The commission is in place to take care of the county. Not to promote the agenda of Greensburg. To single out one commissioner would make me think we may need to look at a five man board. To ensure a fair and balanced vote for all.
Question 9: County department heads have lobbied in recent weeks for significant salary increases for t heir staff members, citing disparities between pay here and that of surrounding counties. Do you favor bringing the pay of Kiowa County employees in line with that of neighboring counties, even if it means a modest increase in the mill levy? Why or why not?
Toner: Yes quality employees come at a price. Can wages be raised with out a raise in the mill levy? I believe it can be by cutting some of the wasteful spending. We need to work together as a county unit to survive. Not a race of which department has the biggest, newest and best. We are here to provide services that are needed in the county. Not to show every one how worldly and vain we are.
Question 10: The county’s population stands at around 2,300. At what level would you like to see the county’s population in 2020—the same, 3,500, 4,000 or 5,000? What is your plan for achieving such growth, if growth is your goal?
Toner: We need to maintain the population we have and grow slowly in a manner not to alienate the people that have been the back bone of our county for years. Change can be good if it is done in the right way but I, like many people, don't like it crammed down my throat by someone that thinks they know the best way for me to live. With your input, support and prayers, I feel we can survive and prosper in good and bad times to come.