Hillsboro local election features two contested council races


Two seats on the Hillsboro City Council are up for the discernment of voters in the April 7 local election. Sitting council members Shane Marler from the East Ward and Bob Watson from the West Ward, are being challenged by Kevin Suderman and Dan Suderman, respectively. We asked each of the four candidates to respond to three questions, and to limit their response to a specific word limit:

n Why do you want to serve on the Hillsboro City Council?

n What life experiences or training enhance your qualifications?

n What three issues or objectives related to Hillsboro city government would be at the top of your priority list if you are elected?

Shane MarlerShaneMarler.jpg



Serving the community for the past two years has been an amazing learning experience. I now know how much it takes to make Hillsboro operate.

Hills?boro has been very good to me having moved here in 2000. I feel the best way I can give back to my community is by serving on the Hillsboro City Council. I feel I possess good decision-making abilities and am a firm believer in treating each situation with equal regard.

I am not afraid to ask questions, and am most certainly not afraid to say I don?t know the answer. Thus, I must educate myself on each issue before making a decision.

n life ExperienceS? Having served on the Hillsboro City Council for the past two years, I feel I have a head start on the inner workings of municipal government.

I consider myself to be a problem solver, and tend to look for the best solution via communication. If everyone has a chance to voice their concerns, they tend to understand the outcome of situations a little better.


1. Financial situation/budget. Now is the time to look at the bottom line. In the current economic situation, our city leaders need to be mindful of spending so that we may continue to provide the necessary services to our community.

2. Economic development. Hillsboro has a leg up on most of the competition in this area. However, it is an issue that should always be on the front burner. If you blink you will miss opportunities, thus it has to always be on your radar.

3. Infrastructure. Without infrastructure, the rest is pointless. We also have to be mindful of the big picture. If we have the infrastructure in place, our community will continue to grow. It also requires a lot of maintenance.

These are the basic necessities of our citizens. A lot of decisions are based on first impressions. If our roads are terrible, our power is insufficient, our toilets don?t flush, our water tastes bad, the trash hasn?t been picked up for a week, and criminals run rampant, most likely we won?t get very many new citizens.


Kevin SudermanKevin-Suderman.jpg



I have lived in this community for 30 of my 35 years and I intend to continue living here. I believe in my community and what it has to offer to others. I want to be involved in city government because I believe it is my duty to serve the needs of my community. It is also important to provide the citizens with more than one option in an election.

n LIFE Experiences? I have been involved in several organizations in the past, including Marion County Extension council chair, Kansas Agricultural Rural Leadership (KARL) and various other organizations.

The KARL program was probably the most educational as I and 29 other Kansans toured the state for two years exploring problems, economics and challenges of rural and urban communities.

n three priorities?

1. Streets. This is an ongoing challenge left to us by previous issues. The current council has begun to address these problems but I feel it will take some very intense work over the next few years to catch up.

2. Economic development. Our city has a lot to offer and we need to continue to tout our strengths while minimizing the weak points.

3. Continue fiscal conservancy by making sure taxes that are collected are used wisely. I think in general a good job is being done now, but there are some issues looming on the horizon which may need increased diligence in this area to be sure the needs of the community are met.


Dan SudermanDanSudermanP3302327.jpg



Hillsboro is a great town and I enjoy being part of a group that sets future direction. I am completing my first two-year term on the council and it has been a very enjoyable experience. I feel I have worked well with the other council members, mayor and city administrator.

City government is similar to many jobs in that much of the first term is spent becoming familiar with how things work and what the rules are. I have been pleased with the progress we have made on a number of things and would like to continue to serve on the council.

n LIFE Experiences? Susan and I have spent our lives in small towns and rural areas and that is where we want to live.

Most of my business career has been spent as a rural banker, most recently serving as community bank president of Emprise Bank. This has given me an understanding of small towns and the needs of our residents. I know how important economic development is to our survival and strongly support those efforts.

We have lived in Hillsboro for 22 years and our three children all graduated from local schools. I come from a teaching family and have always been interested in education. I served 12 years on the USD 410 Board of Education, including terms as president. I spent about 10 years as a director of Hillsboro Community Medical Center, serving as chairman and vice chairman. I was also president of the Chamber of Commerce.

My experience on these boards has been very helpful in serving on the city council.


1. Building and maintaining a dependable and efficient city staff.

The addition of our present city administrator has vastly improved the working of city government. His deep knowledge of how government works and how to get things done has made Hillsboro city government much more effective.

We have an excellent city staff that has not always been appreciated by city leaders. I believe they now feel appreciated and have input on major decisions. I think this has resulted in much better results.

2. City infrastructure. Streets will continue to be a major focus for the city of Hillsboro. This department was allowed to deteriorate and has only begun to rebuild in the past two years. We are slowly upgrading their equipment and I think the results have shown up in our streets.

I am especially pleased with the new drainage project on West D Street. We have had major problems in that area for years which flooded basements with every heavy rain. Drainage problems will probably always be with us because Hillsboro is relatively flat.

We are just completing the new waste water treatment project and upgrading of the airport. Word was just received that we are obtaining a grant to pay for a major upgrade of North Ash Street.

3. Economic development. Hillsboro has a long history of encouraging economic development and we must continue that. Our relationship with Hillsboro Development Corp. has been very successful and needs to be continued. The new welding school through Butler County Community College is a positive. We have plans to develop Hillsboro Business Park when needed.

These are difficult times, but we need to be prepared to grow again when the economy turns around, as it will.


Robert WatsonBobWatson324.jpg


n Why Serve?

I?m approaching the city council position as an opportunity to serve. The community of Hillsboro has afforded me a great place to grow up, swim in the pool as a kid, the new pool with my kids, enjoy the public library, and enjoy the safety of my neighborhood and city.

I know that the only reason that I am able to raise a family in Hillsboro is because people have unselfishly served this community in years past. I would like to ?take my turn? in helping guide Hillsboro for a future generation.

n life experiences? I live in Hillsboro but I work for a company based in Frankfort. I consider this an advantage for being a council member. I don?t have any ?politics? to play in this role. My professional ambitions and my goals for the city don?t overlap. My motivation is to serve.

My profession allows me to buy and sell livestock, manage risk and debt, and interact with the public on a daily basis. I know the success I?ve enjoyed in my professional life will carry over into city council.


1. Protect Hillsboro from misguided policy. My opinion is that policy is borne out of principle. When your guiding principles of right and wrong are followed, policy becomes obvious. When principles are compromised, even once, for the sake of policy, unfair and inequitable decisions follow.

Recently there was a lengthy debate in the council to pave B Street on the west side of Hills?boro. The city seemed to be within its legal rights to assess me for the cost of the street even though I don?t live on B.

But legal doesn?t make right. The street didn?t add to the property value to all who were being assessed; it fact, my property value would have declined by $30-35,000.

I don?t want people in Hillsboro to live in fear the way that I did that Hillsboro?s city government might come in and ?legally? steal money from its citizens when the city budget won?t allow for the improvements wanted.

2. Progress through budgetary concerns. Hillsboro and nearly every other city are experiencing budgetary challenges. That doesn?t mean we can?t lay the groundwork for projects in the future.

The hardest job this council is facing and will face is saying ?no? to some projects in the short term simply because we can?t afford them?not because they aren?t worthy.

3. Safety center as the budget allows. It is becoming more apparent that the EMS and Fire Department have outgrown the current facility. If the city doesn?t address these items properly, they won?t just go away.

By the way, if the fire and EMS were moved to a better facility we could upgrade the library with the room that it needs and deserves.


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