Candidates run for BPU offices in general election Tuesday

Running for Board of Public Utilities positions are, left to right, Ryan Eidson and John C. Martindale, running for BPU at large Position 2; and third from left, Bryan Messmer and Incumbent Mary Gonzales, right, running for BPU at large Position 1. The candidates were at the Oct. 17 candidate forum at KCKCC. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Several contests, including, Board of Public Utilities seats, are on the ballot for Tuesday’s general election in Wyandotte County.

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

For information on voting, see the website, http://www.wycovotes.org/, or voters may call the election office at 913-573-8500.

For past stories about the election, go to the Wyandotte Daily’s Election 17 pages, http://wyandottedaily.com/category/election-2017/.

Board of Public Utilities, at large Position 1

Incumbent Board of Public Utilities member Mary Gonzales and Bryan Messmer are running for the BPU, at large Position 1.

Gonzales said at a candidate forum Oct. 17 that her decisions are based on what is best for the ratepayer and the utility. She said she strives to keep in good communication with constituents.

Gonzales listed goals including: To continue to communicate with business customers and community leaders to support goals and foster economic development; and to continually upgrade their master plan for water and power so that they can identify potential growth and mitigate the aging infrastructure.

Gonzales, a retired teacher, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo (Alabama) and her master’s degree from Emporia State University. She is serving her fourth term in office.

Messmer said he is running for the BPU board because he wants to be involved in decisions that affect the community.

Messmer is a graduate of Turner High School, with a business background. He owns a local service business that was started by his parents, and owns rental properties.

Messmer said there is a perception that BPU rates are too high, and everything should be done that can be done to reduce rates. He said the rates should not be increased, and the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) fee that the Unified Government has placed on the BPU bills seems to be too high, and needs to be looked at.

Gonzales said she agreed with Messmer that the PILOT is higher than other places, but the PILOT is not controlled by the BPU board, it is controlled by the UG Commission.

“We do need to educate the public a lot more,” Gonzales said. The PILOT here is 11.9 percent, and the national average is about 6 to 7 percent, she said. “I’d love for ours to be lowered, but it is out of our hands.”

Gonzales said the BPU helps consumers spend less by showing them how to save energy.

Gonzales won the primary with 49.2 percent of the vote, and Messmer received 17.3 percent.

To see a video of a candidate forum with more discussion of issues by the Board of Public Utilities candidates, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNsA_9jzXFg.

Board of Public Utilities, at large Position 2

Ryan Eidson and John C. Martindale are running for the Board of Public Utilities, at large Position 2.

Martindale said he was running for BPU because he gets a lot of questions. He said he was an asthmatic, and he wanted cleaner air for everybody. He supports a greener energy future, and jobs it creates. He also wants to reduce rates, he said.

“I want to show people we can all have a hand in doing this,” Martindale said.

Eidson, a Kansas State University graduate, is the general manager for Wil Fischer Companies, and has been in charge of operations there for nine years. Budgeting is part of his work.

“I understand what it takes to deliver a good product at the most reasonable price,” he said.

Eidson said his parents were very involved in the community, and he has followed in their footsteps by serving on the boards of two local charities. With his experience, he said he felt he was qualified to help run the BPU.

Eidson said the most important issue for residents is that BPU rates are too high, and he agreed. While going green and those initiatives are great things, he said it was very expensive.

“With the amount of people in poverty in Wyandotte County, is that the right thing to do?” Eidson asked. If people want to be “all green,” perhaps they should pay for higher rates to offset those costs, he added.

Martindale said rates are too high, but people don’t understand what’s on their bill. Part of it is people don’t understand what they see on the bill, all the taxes and fees.

“It’s an education issue,” he said.

“Green energy is expensive to start up, solar, wind,” he said. “However, long term, it does take things down.”

He added he’s not saying to jump into it all at once. Martindale said the BPU could work a little faster without hiking rates. The community has to get on board, and the community solar program is a good start, he added.

There was no primary in the BPU, at large Position 2, contest.

To see a video of a candidate forum with more discussion of issues by the Board of Public Utilities candidates, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNsA_9jzXFg.

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