2015 Candidate questionnaire: Mark Gilstrap, At-Large Position 1 UG Commissioner
Mark Gilstrap and Melissa Brune Bynum survived a March primary to move on to the general election for the At-Large Position 1 seat on the Board of Commissioners for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan. While Bonner Springs and Edwardsville voters were not eligible to vote in the primary for this race, they will vote for this seat in the April 7 general election. The following are Mark Gilstrap's responses to The Chieftain's candidate questionnaire.
Occupation: Retired from the Unified Government
Family: Married 39 years, 3 adult children, 3 grandchildren
Years lived in the county: 3rd generation Dotte
Previous political experience: Kansas State Senator 1997-2008
Other community service: Bonner Springs Chamber of Commerce
What made you decide to run for office?
The position for at-large Commissioner has been vacant for 2 years. I had just retired from the Unified Government in 2014 and good friends of mine asked if I would consider running for the position.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
I graduated from Rockhurst College in 1975 with a BSBA with a major in Accounting and being a former Kansas State Senator that sat on the Budget Committee for four years, I believe would make me an asset to the County Commission, as well as my 33 years in the Finance department with the Unified Government.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
Even though the position is classified as part-time and the fact that I am retired I will be able to commit a full-time effort to the position, unlike some of my colleagues on the Commission that do have full-time jobs. I will be able to attend various Neighborhood meetings on a regular bases. Modern day technology will also be used.
As you have been campaigning, what issue have you found is most important for constituents? How would you address this issue?
The number one issue is high property taxes. The development out west brings in about 17 million dollars a year to the Unified Government and it was the intent of that whole project to lower the taxes but sad to say it has not. With my Accounting background, I feel I will be able to ask the tough question and sift through the Financial reports and get the answers.
In your own opinion, what are the three most important issues facing the county? If you did not do so in a previous answer, please share how you would address these issues.
High property taxes, unemployment and development east of I-635.
With all the development out west why is our unemployment still one of the highest in the State? When we give these special tax deals we must request that our own, as much as possible, have a good chance to be hired. As a Kansas State Senator, I helped get passed the legislation that created the Speedway, the Legends, KC Sporting and I cast the deciding vote to make the Hollywood Casino possible, and I would like to use my experience and contacts to assist in getting the much needed development east of I-635.