A candidate who finished in fourth place in the 2017 election was the first official candidate in the Parsons City Commission race, but he was soon followed by an incumbent.
Verlyn Bolinger Jr., an agent with Farm Bureau Financial Services, filed as a candidate on Tuesday. Later in the day, Commissioner Kevin Cruse officially began his re-election bid. A couple of other races also picked up candidates Friday and Tuesday.
The terms of Commissioners Bill Hogelin, who is serving as mayor this year, Cruse and Peter Cook will expire in January. Cook has ruled out a run. With 10 days left before the filing deadline and no candidates, Hogelin said Friday he will run only if there aren’t enough candidates.
Bolinger collected 405 votes in the 2017 general election, finishing behind incumbent Commissioners Jeff Perez and Tom Shaw and Cook but ahead of four other newcomers. The two candidates with the most votes win four-year terms, while the candidate with the third-most votes earns a two-year term. Cook took third in 2017 with 454 votes.
Bolinger said in 2017 he had hoped to dive into the budget if elected and find possible inefficiencies while also working toward improving the overall appearance of Parsons. Those goals still remain.
“I think we need to vote for some change,” Bolinger said. “We’re still being more reactive than proactive.”
Bolinger said some progress has been made, such as construction finally beginning on the Holiday Inn Express and conference center and the demolition of a long abandoned eyesore of a former motel on Main Street, but there are some infrastructure needs that still haven’t been handled in the two years since his first run.
“I still care about Parsons. I think we can do a lot for Parsons to make it a better place for the citizens,” Bolinger said.
Cruse said people had been asking if he would run for re-election, and after discussing it with his wife, he decided to do it. Serving as commissioner has been interesting, he said, as he has gotten to know the city employees and how local government works.
“We have a good board, and I hope a new board lands and we still have a good one,” Cruse said.
Cruse has served on the commission since April 2011.
The deadline to file for the Nov. 5 general election is noon Monday. Candidates must file at the Labette County Courthouse in Oswego and pay a $20 filing fee along with a $50 governmental ethics disclosure fee to the state. In this year’s election, the $50 fee is applicable only to Parsons City Commission candidates. The winning candidates will take office in January. A primary election would be needed in August if more than nine candidates file.
Commissioners are paid $3,000 per year, with the mayor getting an extra $600. The two commissioners earning four-year terms ultimately serve as mayor for a year. The commissioners also get health insurance, with the city paying all of the premium.
In another local race, incumbent Joan Thompson filed on Tuesday as a Parsons USD 503 Board of Education candidate. Incumbents Michael Kastle and Louis Martino already had filed. Four board members will be elected.
Raymond Coffey on Friday joined fellow incumbents Craig Carnahan and Benjamin Cochran in the Altamont City Council race. Three council members will be elected.
Janet Phillips filed as a candidate on Friday for re-election to the Wildcat Extension District Board, joining incumbent Jeff Bohnenblust. Two board members will be elected.