Henry Schwaller IV, mayor of Hays, is running for one of three city commission positions expiring in 2019 on the Hays City Commission. In a brief biography and Q&A with The Hays Daily News, Schwaller stated his position on issues before the commission.
Registered voters in Hays decide this fall on who will fill the three vacancies. There are five candidates. Party affiliation doesn’t matter for the city commission seats, which are nonpartisan positions. New commissioners take office in January 2020 and serve four-year terms.
Early voting starts Monday in the Ellis County Clerk’s office of the county administrative building at 718 Main. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Other city commission candidates are Ron Mellick, Michael Berges, Mason Ruder and Ryan Rymer.
Born and raised in Hays, Henry Schwaller is a graduate of Hays High School. Schwaller received his Bachelor of Science in Business and his MBA from the University of Kansas.
Schwaller is an instructor of management and entrepreneurship in the Department of Management at Fort Hays State University. In addition to teaching at FHSU, Schwaller is president of Henry Schwaller and Associates Inc., a real estate investment firm. He is also mayor of Hays, and serves on the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and Hays Public Library board.
1. What's your opinion of the already approved Vine Street roundabouts?
I do not support the project. It’s too large and too expensive. The intersection at 32nd and 33rd streets is the most dangerous intersection in Hays; however, when the city had an opportunity to re-route the street through the former Mall property in 2015, the city decided that the $500,000 cost was too high. In short, other alternatives have and do exist.
2. What's your opinion of the I-70 travel plaza development planned at Exit 157, likely for annexation into the city with economic development incentives?
I support the travel plaza and look forward to its completion. It’s an important project that benefits Ellis County, and the incentives have no risk to taxpayers.
3. How will you attract retail, manufacturing or high-tech jobs to Hays that draw young people and afford them a living wage?
Our approach to creating new high-skill and high-wage jobs must encourage new startups in Hays and retain and expand existing businesses. “Home grown” businesses have a greater impact on our community and build on our existing strengths in education, through Fort Hays State University and North Central Kansas Technical College. Recruiting a large outside firm, like a manufacturer, would have immediate results but require resources and infrastructure that we do not have. Also, industry that is attracted solely through incentives tends to leave once those significant tax breaks dry up.
We have many local entrepreneurs in many business sectors. It’s important that we reach out to them, and listen and assist them in resolving challenges that keep them from growing.
4. Do you support an added 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax in Hays, and if so, how would you spend the revenue?
I’m happy that voters will decide on a proposed county sales tax next year; it’s important that something this significant is approved by residents, rather than elected officials. Should the sales tax pass, I would prefer to use it on critical infrastructure needs, including road, and economic development, including assistance for business startups.
That said, I hope that voters seriously consider the impact of this additional tax on the 88,000 northwest Kansans who shop in Hays. Many live on fixed incomes and tight budgets; increasing taxes on food may encourage shoppers to avoid Hays and shop at home, or in bigger cities with better retail options.