On the Issues
Targeting Business Growth
Roeland Park is a “mature” city, meaning not only is it home to some of the most beautiful trees in Johnson County, it also has little space available for business growth. While there is no new natural frontier for our city to grow, there is still opportunity to cultivate new business opportunities, adding to our commercial tax base and lessening the financial burden on homeowners. Per square foot, commercial properties bring in more than two times the property tax revenue compared to the same residential space. Revisiting the city’s zoning regulations and redeveloping unused—or underutilized—properties will not only make Roeland Park a more desirable place for Kansas Citians to shop and play, it will directly benefit our residents financially and in adding walkable amenities. We must stay vigilant for, and actively pursue, the right opportunities to welcome businesses that enhance our city and quality of life.
Roeland Park has no sit-down restaurant, bar and grill, coffee shop, or entertainment destination. It lacks local retail stores and has few options for working professionals wishing to office within city limits. I will work to prioritize welcoming these types of businesses in our underutilized, or unutilized, areas.
While we can, and should, recruit major employers, we should complement this by creating developments that maximize our footprint in a landlocked town. Compact, diverse, and walkable growth should be our focus. By doing so, we can incentivize businesses that share our vision for the city to come here, and can take advantage of state and federal funding when it’s available.
We can create momentum toward change by keeping our citizens informed and engaged about our vision for growth within the city. Roeland Parkers, like Kansas Citians, are loyal. We support our Chiefs, drink Boulevard beer, and eat at Joe’s KC. If local retailers come to Roeland Park, we will repay them with our loyalty and our dollars. We welcome the chance to prove it.
A Community for All
As a mayoral candidate, I know that all Roeland Parkers, regardless of ward, matter. Therefore, I want to encourage citizens of all backgrounds to participate, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic status. I will make sure to balance the particular needs of certain areas, such as schools and the community center, with the greater impact upon the city as a whole. All Roeland Park citizens should have access to parks and green space, safe walkable streets, and easy proximity to services. Therefore, we should incorporate Universal Design principals into our developments so that the city can be enjoyed by everyone.
I support Roeland Park’s nondiscrimination ordinance and am thankful for those who fought for its implementation. I oppose repealing the ordinance, as I believe discrimination is not only morally repugnant, but could also have the considerable economic consequences of discouraging new residents and customers from Roeland Park.
Maintaining positive community growth through the uncertainty of the Wal-Mart final location is an area of concern to nearly every Roeland Parker. While Wal-Mart has not left, there is little to show that it has dedicated itself to remaining in Roeland Park. Corporate representatives have indicated their intent to grow their current store by up to 90,000 square feet, which they say is not possible in its current location. Therefore, we must continue to plan for this exit, whether it comes this month, this year, or this decade. Our current Mayor and Council have built reserves to cover the city’s losses when the space is “dark” and for the perpetual loss in sales tax revenue that may occur. I will continue this plan, while working to find ways to gradually lower the mill levy while not impacting the quality of life in Roeland Park.
When Wal-Mart eventually leaves, we will have a unique opportunity through CID funds to work with property owners and reshape the image of the entire Roe Shops, and therefore our community, and welcome businesses that share our goals of shops that are local, walkable, sustainable, and bring value and character to the city of which we can be proud.
A balanced and diversified tax approach should continue for Roeland Park. Currently, the city’s revenues are about a 2:1 property to sales tax mixture. This mirrors the citizen survey conducted in 2016 of Roeland Park resident wishes as to tax allocation. I will work to gradually lower the mill levy while preparing for Wal-Mart’s exit. Further, I want to welcome businesses that are stable, enhance quality of life, and add to the tax base. However, Roeland Parkers deserve quality civic services, top-notch education, safe streets, and a dedicated, adequately funded police department. I will not jeopardize these things by encouraging immediate, drastic mill levy reductions.
A Common Sense Approach
There is enough partisanship in Washington and Topeka. We do not need more of it in Roeland Park. I believe the common challenges we face on a day-to-day basis require consideration of solutions based upon their merits, not on which side of the political aisle they fall. Many of the solutions we seek, such as quality parks, streets, and schools, transcend politics.
Roeland Park’s civic reputation, for better or worse, has been one of partisanship and divisiveness for far too long. It seems that although council turns over frequently, the same factions continue their proxy fight, which divides the community and stalls progress. I want to end it. I want to listen more and argue less. I want to avoid grandstanding on immaterial issues that discourages interest and participation in civic activities. I want to promote rational dialogue and implement the best solutions for Roeland Park, regardless from where they come. Further, I want my example as Mayor to inspire other members of the community who have stayed out of Roeland Park civics to get involved and help make our city, schools, and neighborhoods stronger.
I look forward to working with the current councilpersons whose terms continue through 2019. Additionally, I would be happy to work with whoever is elected to various council seats in November. Republican, Democrat, or unaffiliated, it makes no difference. Roeland Park deserves a mayor who will transcend partisanship.
In 2020, the city is scheduled to reshape Roe Boulevard and rebuild the gateway to our town. For too long, Roe has been an artificial barrier between the east and west sides of the city. To be a true community, we must change this. Roe 2020 is the perfect opportunity. In doing so, the city should work to decrease traffic congestion, make the street friendlier to bicyclists, and ease the burden on families walking to and from school, all while creating a welcoming entrance to our city
Encouraging Civic Participation
There are many talented residents of Roeland Park. We have a diverse community of creative and talented individuals. We are home to teachers, builders, artists, business owners, musicians, and everything in between. Our unique and highly sought-after location attracts the best residents: Those who forego a little square footage, and in return receive not only proximity to thriving parts of Kansas City, but who also share a desire to live in a vibrant, active community. We walk to the market, bike to school, and enjoy the help and society of our neighbors. These are the people who my family and I are lucky to not only call neighbors, but friends. By promoting new ways to keep our residents informed and engaged, we can maximize the use of our collective talents to become one of the most, if not the most, desirable communities in the metro area. This includes an update to the city website, increasing access to elected officials, and working to better involve students at our schools in the civic process, thus creating the next generation of Roeland Park leaders. We can build upon the good work laid before us and blaze a trail for other communities to follow. Opportunities abound in Roeland Park.
Sustaining a Community
During my time as Chairman of the Sustainability Committee, I have worked to implement policies and practices that help Roeland Park thrive, not only through being conscious of ecological choices, but also engaging residents to undertake community-focused initiatives that recognize and preserve our city’s values and traditions. I will continue, and expand upon, this work as Mayor to ensure that Roeland Park continues to thrive. This means preserving the resources of our built and natural environment, and ensuring our community has clean air and water, safe and healthy neighborhoods, a resilient economy, and access to housing and transportation choices. I will lead the effort to make Roeland Park aware of its impact on the planet, and find ways to reduce our energy consumption. Not only will this lead to decreased energy costs to the city, it will also make our community healthier, happier, and provide a model for other communities in the metropolitan region. Cities are the true climate leaders, and local action can have a significant global impact.
Additionally, I want to continue to foster the beautification and redesign of our parks and green spaces. The trend before me is remarkable: Nall Park and R Park have come a long way. We can continue this trend by adding shaded spaces, better sanitation and recycling options, and bicycling opportunities to—and within—our parks.