Editor's Note: This is the first story in an 11-part series focusing on local candidates running for election. The City Commission candidates will run Thursday. The School Board candidates will run Friday and Saturday.

If you would like a PDF of our entire Voters Guide, email us at Printed copies of the Voters Guide will be available to read at Zeb's next week.

Name: Jolene Born 

Race: City Commission 

Current job: Behavioral court officer for Douglas County Criminal Justice Services

Current community involvement: 

Parks and Rec Foundation.

My children are in the schools so I'm involved in the Eudora band.

Why are you running for election? 

There is so much more I want to see accomplished. I have been trying to get a bridge over K-10 and was just starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I also have been trying to get a sidewalk in front of the elementary school along the old K-10, which is going to be started next year. With Nottingham going on, I want that to come to a close and have the goals we’ve set in motion to continue to be in motion. 

There are varying perspectives on what the future of Eudora should be, with some favoring the city keep its small-town feel while others want to see growth. What is your vision for the future of the city? 

I think we can grow while still keeping that small-town feel. Right now, we are a city that looks out for each other. We have families oriented with each other. Our kids all go to school together. I want to keep that feeling. With Nottingham, we’re going to grow that community engagement while still having businesses and other revenue sources come in to help keep Eudora contemporary. 

Residents have expressed concerns about utilities and about infrastructure needs, including improved access to the schools. What do you think are the biggest infrastructure priorities for the city? 

Right now, we’re working on the water treatment plant. A lot of projects aren’t done overnight. They take years and years of planning, years of finding funding. Our water has improved immensely over the last few years, but we should still have room to grow in that area. As the city ages, we are starting to see more and more things need to be upgraded and replaced. So we need to stay on top of those things so that we don’t go backwards again. 

As far as easy access to schools, we’re working on trails and getting actively engaged in having children have safe routes to school. As far as traffic around the school, I know, is huge. I’m stuck in traffic just like everybody else. Unfortunately, it’s a very expensive fix. We continue to look for ways to fix it and the way to fund those fixes. Until we get that kind of funding, we just have to keep an open mind and see what comes up.

The city has seen business growth in recent years with downtown revitalization and the Nottingham development. What businesses would you like to see added to the city, and what do you see as the city’s role in economic development? 

I would like to see our downtown be a place where people can go and mill about. So, if you’re going downtown for coffee, why don’t you stop in the home store next door? I like the fact that we’re having other offices and businesses down there. I would like to see another food establishment down there. More variety in food establishments would be nice. 

I want to keep our downtown quaint and nostalgic while we can still have Nottingham be a city center. I think there’s two different sections of where businesses can go that can be unique and different and not compete against each other.

Key needs for senior citizens in the community include transportation and housing. What do you see as the city’s role in enhancing senior support services? 

I think we do a really great job with our seniors. Obviously, there’s always room for improvement in any category. With the retirement center being close by and both Medicalodges and Homestead, we have a lot of families who utilize those facilities and that keeps everybody local and families connected. 

Sometimes you get families whose parents are an hour away because that’s the best facility around for them. So I think it’s important we keep our families close-knit. I love that we have Meals on Wheels for the seniors, and we have the Senior Resource Center helping out our community as well.

Taking into consideration various city services, including fire, police and Parks & Recreation, what do you see as needing additional funding or support right now? 

We have really grown both fire and police with the new building. We have this great facility that I think we entice people to come and want to be in those fields. I’d like to see us offer more competitive wages so we don’t lose our newly trained staff to different cities. 

As far as Parks and Rec, the pool is not an item that makes money. Pools cost a lot of money to build, maintain, staff, and I'd like to see us come up with a better solution to what we see currently so that Eudora citizens stay in Eudora instead of going to other communities. It’s always going to lose money, and it’s always going to have staffing issues, as most people who lifeguard are younger and then go back to college. I’d like to figure out that solution so we can keep the pool open for longer hours and keep people going to the pool. 

Otherwise, we have wonderful parks, trails all around the baseball field. I really loved all the new playground equipment we’ve put in. We’ve done a ton with Parks and Rec. I’m very excited to see all of that continue to grow.

The library is hoping that voters will approve a bond issue in the spring to begin construction of a new library. What is your stance on this? 

We certainly need a new library. The old one badly needs repairs, which are expensive to do. The size is small. We’ve outgrown it. As far as money to build a new one, there’s part of where my concern lies. 

It’s going to be a raise on our property taxes to fund it, and we are pretty high right now in property taxes so that’s my concern. I’d like to find a middle ground there where we don’t have as much of an increase in taxes but still have a nice library. It is a tough situation. We need to do it. I just don’t know if we’re going about it in the best way without having to raise taxes.

What do you think are the biggest strengths of Eudora? 

Honestly, that we are a small town feel. There are 6,300 or 6,500 people in this town. I can walk down the street and wave and say hi to a majority of them. It’s one of the friendliest towns and we look out for each other. There is not a lot of crime, and I think it’s because we do know each other and police each other. 

I have no problem with my children walking through town and even riding their bikes, aside from going over K-10 to the high school and middle school by themselves. I’ll be very happy when the bridge is done so that perhaps they can start doing something like that. As long as we stay involved and stay with what makes Eudora the best it can be, I don’t see where we can go wrong with this one.

What do you think are the biggest challenges? 

I think our biggest challenges are streets and sidewalks. We have a plan in place for that to renovate the older streets and to get sidewalks into the areas where there aren't any and to keep up on the ones that we currently have, so they don't go into total disrepair. 

Unfortunately, though, things cost money. Everything costs money, and it takes time to raise that money, but we have a plan in place that every year we have funding set aside just for that reason to repair streets and sidewalks. We worked with grants to get the sidewalk in front of the elementary school. It's $1.1 million we're getting on a grant. So, even though that's still our biggest detriment is sidewalks and curbs and streets, we are working towards it and we are working on finding ways to fund it without creating more taxes.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

I don’t think so. I think you got all the major questions.


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