Candidate Interview, August 3, 2004 Primary Election
Jack Landers for Western Commissioner - Republican
Text of Warrensburg Free Press article
Interview was conducted at Java Junction.
Interview – Jack Landers for Western Commissioner, Republican
Jack M. Landers, rural Warrensburg, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Western Commissioner to replace Bob Banes, who is not seeking reelection. Born on a farm near LaTour in Rose Hill Township, he is a lifelong resident of Johnson County. Landers holds a PhD from the University of Missouri in Industrial Education and is a Professor Emeritus of Industrial Technology at CMSU. He has previously served on the Warrensburg City Council and on boards and committees including the city’s planning and zoning board and building code appeals board. He also served on the Regional Planing Council. While at CMSU, Landers served as a Department Chair and Assistant Dean, with responsibility for supervising staff and managing budgets. While he has never served in county government, he states that he has followed county issues closely over the years.
Landers views the county’s transportation system as a critical issue. While bridges are greatly improved, he has seen much better local road systems in other areas of the country and believes Johnson County’s could be upgraded. He would like to see more hard surface roads and states that he would research how other counties have been able to pave more of their roads than this county. On paving priorities, he thinks that road use studies are important and need to be very current. He also thinks use studies might justify closing some roads. He believes that there must be some way to get the state to address the condition of their highways in the county.
Environment of the county is another of Landers’ key issues. He is concerned about the county’s position on the edge of urban sprawl and the increase in “junk & debris” in some properties. He states that he understands the need to avoid rigid controls, especially on agriculture, but believes something is necessary to keep control of the environment and to keep the county livable. He thinks that the county is on the threshold of significant growth and believes that the growth needs to be managed for the betterment of all. While most growth is in the west, any solution must be county-wide. Landers supported previous zoning efforts and thinks that planning and zoning could successfully control growth if well-limited. Landers also believes he could support a nuisance ordinance focussed on keeping the county livable; he would also support application of some level of building codes county-wide.
Landers is concerned about what he sees as a decline in some economic entities in Johnson County, citing the sale and departure of several industries that were formerly owned within the general area as well as the potential long-term threat to Whiteman AFB. He would like to see additional industry come in to broaden the economic base and sees the role of economic development organizations as to encourage new industry. However, he feels the county’s primary role in developing an industrial park as providing services and supporting the park; he does not think the county should be in the business of managing an industrial park. As far as tax breaks for new industry, he believes that most companies expect breaks and they are needed for a location to be competitive when seeking new industry.
Landers states that the need for new taxes would depend on what they were trying to support, such as an aggressive road program that might require additional funds, but he would have to see specific benefits before he could support a new tax. He does support the need for a new jail, but is unsure if the county needs one of the size proposed. He thinks that employee salaries need to be in line with those of other counties in similar situations. While he does not have access to specific budget figures, Landers feels that law enforcement salaries should be comparable; he supports reexamining the allocations in the current law enforcement sales tax. While he has not given much study to the newly-created human relations staff position, but he thinks it is needed because of the laws and paperwork required for the number of county employees.
Landers states his political philosophy is basically Jeffersonian. He states, “our country is a marvel among the nations of the word in that we have the opportunity to provide an organized revolution to direct our government as the people would like it.” He fees the position is a county-wide job, but if elected he would listen to the voice of the district and try to implement it into county government. He says, “My campaign slogan is to keep Johnson County a livable county.”