Mason Ruder 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, Ruder 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 Michael Berges, Henry Schwaller IV, Ryan Rymer and Ron Mellick.
Schwaller's Q&A ran in Tuesday's Hays Daily News, Rymer's ran in Wednesday's paper, and Mellick's ran Thursday.
Mason submitted this biographical information about himself: My name is Mason Ruder. I am a born-and-raised citizen of Hays, Kansas. I had the privilege of attending both public and private schools in the area. In 2010 I graduated from Thomas More Prep-Marian and attended Fort Hays State University for a while before leaving Hays for a bit to do some self-exploration in Kansas City.
I moved back to Hays for one reason. Family. Being raised here, having family here, and starting my own family in a town like Hays was an easy decision with such a phenomenal community environment. Currently, I work as an Environmental Planning Supervisor for Ellis County, which, as a local government employee, I get to be involved in learning and growing the county I grew up in.
I am running for City Commissioner of Hays to help push our city forward for smart, efficient and financially responsible growth and sustainability.
1. What's your opinion of the already approved Vine Street roundabouts?
The roundabouts project wants to tackle some issues along Vine Street such as congestion off the access road to Vine Street in front of the location of where the Ramada used to be. I agree, some steps needed to be taken or at least addressed to help mitigate these types of issues. I am not against change when it comes to improving the areas of safety and ease of use for citizens and those who need to rest off of I-70. However, I need to make sure the decision we make as a commission has explored all options, both for the present and for the future, before major changes are made. The impact for such projects extends well beyond just traffic congestion being eased. Businesses, potentially residential areas, and a major vein to the city could be changing. Have we asked all the questions yet that need answers?
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 do support the travel plaza at Exit 157. The City of Hays lies in such a pristine location for such development. Between Kansas City and Denver, there is not much like what is being proposed. Any time the city can help foster growth, especially for business that originates here, I believe we need to be a part of it. What is good for the businesses of Hays is good for everyone. New jobs, new revenue, potential for other businesses to profit off of an easy stop off of I-70 that can connect you up to and downtown is a great thing for the city of Hays. I love to see businesses grow and if we can continue to help make it happen, I say go for it.
3. How will you attract retail, manufacturing or high-tech jobs to Hays that draw young people and afford them a living wage?
Attracting retail, manufacturing, or high-tech jobs that draw young people and afford them a living wage needs a few things to happen. First, we need to explore encouraging development of moderately priced homes. There is a major gap in the housing market between cheap fixer-uppers and custom-built homes. This gives them the opportunity to get their foot in the door for a home to start. Secondly, as we work to attract new business, we need to not forget the businesses we have here. A strong foundation of good businesses within Hays can help drive and create competition growth for potential new business. If we can help sustain and create business growth and the housing to back up the workforce, there isn't much that can slow us down.
4. Do you support an added 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax in Hays, and if so, how would you spend the revenue?
The great thing about the sales tax is that it is up to the people to decide if they support it or not. Should the tax pass where the City of Hays gets to participate in the revenue, I would be in favor of using the revenue to get the City of Hays more involved in the development of the Northwest Business Corridor project and other infrastructure projects as needed. The Northwest Business Corridor project could mean great things for the future of Hays. This project could help kick-start some additional development and make the area safer for those already in the area. With a new corridor pushed by the City of Hays, Ellis County, and the State of Kansas, future development and revenue sources for the City of Hays are a need for us to be more involved in.