City Commission candidates outline goals on KVOE Candidate Forum Featured

Joni Austenfeld (left) and Susan Brinkman appeared on KVOE's City Commission Candidate Forum on Thursday. Joni Austenfeld (left) and Susan Brinkman appeared on KVOE's City Commission Candidate Forum on Thursday. Chuck Samples/KVOE News

A pair of Emporia City Commission candidates joined KVOE's Candidate Forum on Thursday to outline their goals and objectives for the city if elected next month.

Joni Austenfeld Susan Brinkman mentioned their thought process on priorities if elected. Austenfeld says commissioners need to be accessible and transparent.

Both Austenfeld and Lisa Brittain are political newcomers, while Brinkman is hoping to transition from the Emporia School Board to City Commission. She says her first order of business is to develop relationships with other city commissioners if elected.

Brittan had a last-minute work emergency develop and could not participate in the forum.

Both Austenfeld and Brinkman say infrastructure is vital for the city's health, whether it's the traditional roads, underground utilities or technology. Austenfeld says the opportunity to work remotely from Emporia offers a chance to broaden the economy, while Brinkman says the city's recent push towards gaining a federal technology grant -- even though the city was not awarded money -- is already leading to other conversations about how best to move forward on broadband or other cutting-edge technology.

On economic development, Brinkman says the city should "start with what we do well" and continue efforts to bring industry and manufacturing to town.

Austenfeld says a sound downtown that highlights its historic nature and a solid working relationship with Emporia State are big focal points for her.

Housing and building codes came up as a quality of life issue. Brinkman says business codes were literally in different books when she was in her research period for Bourbon Cowboy several years ago, and builders or contractors may not want to come to Emporia if they can't find the information they need. Austenfeld, meanwhile, says the city needs to enforce current housing codes and may need to add staff and money to improve living conditions.

Thursday's forum followed one Tuesday featuring incumbents Rob Gilligan and Becky Smith along with political newcomer Todd Maddox.

With the City Commission forums now completed, two Candidate Forums next week will focus on the candidates for the Emporia School Board. Jeremy Dorsey, Mallory Koci and Jeff Lutes appear Tuesday, while Art Gutierrez, Grant Riles and Leslie Seeley will be on the Oct. 17 program. Those forums begin at 10:06 am and will be loaded into the Audio Vault after they are completed.

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