Friday, January 13, 2012


The following post is primarily for Lyon County, Kansas residents. Those outside the county may, however, find the poitical intrigue here in the Heartland fascinating.

On January 5th, our County Commissioners¸ in a two to one vote, approved a resolution to allow the Lyon County extension service to merge with the Frontier District (Osage and Franklin counties).

In the wake of the vote many Lyon Countians expressed their displeasure. In informal polls conducted by the Gazette and KVOE, the displeasure could be clearly seen. Of the 1,209 citizens who expressed an opinion in either poll, 1,024 (85%) said they disapproved of the measure or believed the matter should be put to the voters. Some might say that informal polls carry no weight, but when one considers how difficult it is to get 85% of any community to agree on anything, I believe the polls carry considerable weight. About the only time a community expresses this much agreement would be about whether or not Mom’s apple pie is the best in the world or whether or not the world is actually round.

I’ve made no secret of what my opinion on this matter is, but this is not, in the strictest sense, an opinion piece. I think it is paramount that we get this issue to the voters. To that end, some of us have been preparing a petition to put it on the ballot. The drafts have been completed and approved by our County Attorney. All that remains in phase one is to circulate the petition to those registered to vote in the County. That process can begin on January 19th. From that point we will have a sixty day window to get the 1,000 signatures necessary to the County Clerk. I believe we can easily achieve that goal and possibly double that number.   

Once phase two begins, the debate and discussion will begin in earnest. Like others who share my view, I intend to give this my very best effort. A couple of days ago I told Steve Sauder when the time came I would be in the same frame of mind Joe Frasier was when he prepared to meet Muhammad Ali in Madison Square Garden. In a pre-fight press conference, Ali taunted Frasier. Frasier responded by telling Ali that in the ring, “I’m gonna’ be dead up in your nose hole.” I intend to fight hard on this issue. I hope and expect others will as well.

You’ll be seeing information coming out as things progress. As soon as we can make arrangements we’d like to have a brief meeting with those who would like to circulate petitions for signature. It’s going to be a labor intensive task, but, like any worthwhile endeavor, the rewards will be considerable.

I’d like to thank those who have already expressed interest in this petition. Thanks to Bob Agler, James Bordonaro, Steve Corbin, Tom Cotte, and Eldon Parkman. Thanks in advance to those who aren’t yet on the volunteer rolls, but will be. Thanks to Tammy Vopat, Marc Goodman, and their staffs for the timely review and input. Thanks to Steve Sauder and Chris Walker for seeing the importance of this issue and putting it before their respective audiences. Special thanks to Steve Corbin, who has been my mentor in this process. And, thanks to the Gazette’s “bloggers.” You guys often get a bad rap, but I believe that you’re an important part of this community. You’ve taken on the unenviable task of holding our leaders’ feet to the fire. You represent the voices of people in this community who have difficulty getting a hearing through more traditional platforms. Most importantly, you say what you say because you, too, care deeply about this community!

I’ve only lived here twelve years, but one of the things that has become clear to me is that many Lyon Countians have given up on our political process. That sense of futility is evident in the number of us who vote for candidates or issues that should be important to all of us. When 20% or less of us vote, it is not a sign of good community health.

Some may be frustrated in this case. But, we need you!  Please don’t tune this out. Let’s not make this another one of those times when less than 10% of us finally decide for the entire community.

This issue has the potential to change things for the better. It’s given us a real opportunity to come together. I’ve gotten calls of support from people of both high and humble estate since the Commissioners cast their votes.

So, the hard work begins. Sign a petition. Gather signatures. Be on the lookout for press releases. Call me; I’m listed. Stop by the Town Royal and have a chat with Steve Corbin. Write letters to the editor.

Let’s dig in and give it our very best. Then, when the time for debate comes, let’s fight hard and let’s fight…fair!

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