Both candidates for the Johnson County Commission’s 3rd District say they are wary of future state budget cuts that could put more pressure on the county.
They differ in their attitudes toward public transit and working with local government in Kansas City.
Steve Klika and Terry Presta will face each other in a Nov. 6 nonpartisan election to replace commissioner David Lindstrom, who is retiring. The seat carries a term of four years.
Klika, the president of a staffing agency, said public transportation and education are among his top priorities. He has served on the Blue Valley school board and the Johnson County Transit board since 2005 and said he hoped to bring that experience to the county.
Klika described himself as a fiscal conservative and said he was concerned that Johnson County maintain its high quality life by actively promoting K-12 education.
“The biggest asset in the county is education,” Klika said. “I don’t want to lose what we’ve got.”
Klika has said he is open to working with regional partners in the metro area and surrounding counties and expects the commission to face budget challenges in a slowed economy with continued budget cuts at the state level. He won’t bring a set agenda to the commission, he said, but wants to be at the table when the tough choices are made.
Presta, a former state representative from Garden City and former owner of a string of convenience stores, differed from Klika when it came to expanding public transportation and working with governments in Jackson County.
While Klika has long been a promoter of public transit in the county as the population has grown, Presta said he was not in favor of expanding those services now.
“I’m not as big a supporter,” he said. “If we want to put it to a public referendum and see what the public is willing to pay for, I’m all for that.”
Presta said he was most concerned with protecting the county’s core services. He wants to decrease the county’s reliance on property taxes and help improve service at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Johnson County.
Presta said he was very skeptical of entering into any partnerships with Jackson County or Kansas City.