Dallke, Allen differ on future path for county


Randy Dallke


Aaron Allen

Both incumbent Republican County Commissioner Randy Dallke and his District 3 opponent in the Nov. 4 general election, Democrat Aaron Allen, say they are committed to promoting Marion County as a better place to live.

But their similarities end quickly when it comes to the question of whether they support the ballot question of voting a sales-tax bond for a new county jail and communications center.

Dallke said he does support the new jail question because current facilities are out-of-date with safety issues and inabilities to meet state requirements that could result in legal issues.

Allen said the jail is one more example of how the current county commission has not been looking after the public interest.

?I don?t believe it is in the best interest of Marion County to go into a 20-year $8 million-debt in today?s financial market,? he said.

Allen said the communications plan should be separated from the inmate-care issue. Then commissioners should work with the sheriff to develop a short-term plan that might include both local confinement and sending inmates to other counties while long-range building and financing plans are made.

Dallke said the commissioners have considered jail alternatives throughout his term, and have concluded the best solution is a new jail with sufficient space to hold ?pay-to-stay? prisoners from other counties that might keep Marion County taxpayers from needing to pay for all expenses.

He said money sent out-of-county to house Marion County prisoners is money that?s gone forever while money spent in-county boosts the local economy.

Dallke said he has supported bringing such things as the casino issue and the jail to public votes because county residents need to be in on the decisions that can affect lifestyle in the county.

He predicted the next ?big issue? will be solid waste as the commission tries to keep rising costs from requiring an increase in waste fees paid by homeowners and businesses.

Dallke said his many years working as a volunteer in the county, and in serving as mayor of Peabody, have solidified his viewpoint as a member of the county commission that an issue ?can be solved if we get out there and work on it.?

He is a lifelong resident of Marion County, and has been employed by Atmos Energy for 22 years.

Allen portrayed himself as a fiscally conservative candidate who wants to lower property and sales taxes in the county to promote the county as a place to grow and start businesses.

He said such growth in business can reverse the decline in county population, and help promote growth to solve such issues as road and bridge construction and the jail.

Allen said the commission needs to establish better leadership guidance to its employees, and be more customer-friendly to both employees and the public. Smaller communities also have been underrepresented, he said.

To help improve these things, he would like to go to a five-member commission instead of a three-member one, and have nighttime meetings to increase attendance instead of daytime ones.

Allen was a native of Columbus who moved to a farm north of Florence nearly five years ago.

Allen manages an aerospace manufacturing company in Cottonwood Falls that grew from 20 employees in 2002 to 55 in 2008, and is working on a master?s degree in business administration from Emporia State University.

As a former captain in the U.S. Army 5th Special Forces Group, Allen said he received awards for operations in Afghan?istan, Africa, Jordan and Korea.

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