Candidates running for seats on the Leavenworth County Commission convened Thursday night for a public forum at the Riverfront Community Center.

Candidates running for a seat on the Leavenworth County Commission convened Thursday night for a public forum at the Riverfront Community Center.

The forum featured candidates who are running for one of two new districts on the Leavenworth County Commission.

Thursday’s forum featured three of the four candidates for the 5th District, which is comprised of Tonganoxie, Reno and Sherman townships and the cities of Tonganoxie and Linwood.

The candidates for that district are David Frese, Curtis Oroke, Mike Stieben and Stuart Sweeney, who was unable to attend the forum.

Local political science professor Ernest Evans, a weekly columnist for the Leavenworth Times, moderated the forum for candidates who are running in a special election for the Leavenworth County Commission.

The candidates were asked a question from the floor about the salaries of the commissioners.

Stieben said a proposed $20,000 salary is unrealistic.

Frese said county residents “will get twice the value” no matter how much he is paid.

Oroke said a five-member commission should be able to come up with a resolution on salaries that is fair to everyone.

The candidates were asked about improving roads in the county.

Oroke said there are 700 miles of roads in the county and they should be crowned to help with drainage.

Frese said the county road crews should be fully staffed.

Stieben said he supports the county commission’s continued efforts to improve roads.

The candidates were also asked about economic development in the county.

Stieben said the county should stick to its comprehensive plan.

Frese said the county needs an advocate in the 5th District. He said county residents need to “buy in” to economic development efforts. He said the county also must “find our thing.”

Oroke said the county is “way behind” on economic development.

“We need to promote Leavenworth County,” he said.

Another forum will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Riverfront Community Center for three candidates running for the 4th District seat. That district is made up of the city of Lansing, Delaware Township and portions of southeast Leavenworth.

The candidates for that district are Chad Schimke, Troy Smith and Hank Spellman.

A special election will take place March 26. The new 4th and 5th districts have been created as part of an expansion of the Leavenworth County Commission.