Today we continue with responses to the questionnaire we developed with reader input for the candidates running for Roeland Park City Council. Today’s questionnaire item is:
The Roeland Park City Council is known for its lengthy discussions and multiple meetings. Do you believe procedural change is needed or do the long proceedings represent good process? Please explain changes you would encourage or why the current process serves the city well
Ward 4 Candidates
Council meetings should be efficient, productive, and focused on future planning. However, our neighbors who wish to speak on a subject deserve the opportunity to do so, even if that means a meeting runs long. I respect the voice of each resident in Roeland Park, and I am committed to furthering productive conversations that benefit the thoughtful forward progression of our great city.
Regularly having longer proceedings does not represent good process. Meetings are efficient when the rules of order are well understood and members treat each other with respect and trust. When the protocol is not understood or enforced, effective communication is often the casualty. When communication is poor and disjointed, it is easy for distrust and misunderstandings to grow and further disrupt the effectiveness of meetings.
I am a skilled listener and communicator. I strive to listen to understand, then to build consensus by clearly articulating the core issues that are relevant. Members won’t always agree on all topics. But, when they feel like they have been heard and their views genuinely considered, people tend to work to find the common ground. I have been a part of several organizations that have used meeting protocols like Roberts Rules of Order. There is value in having structure to guide the conversations.
As your council member, I pledge to listen to every resident who contacts me. I will respectfully work with the other members on council.
Ward 2 Candidates
This is a great question. The lengthy discussions do not necessarily represent good process. As a small business owner, I know the importance of running efficient and effective meetings, the Council needs to focus itself on setting and keeping agendas.
Our City government is supposed to promote healthy discourse and exchange of ideas, while allowing adequate time to focus on what’s important to the Roeland Park residents.
I think too many meetings gives residents the impression that there isn’t as much openness in City dealings as there should be. How can one person keep track of it all? That said, I’ve been doing my best to try, and what I’ve found shows me that the City as a whole does a pretty good job most of the time. I think it is important for government to have openness at a level that everyone understands what is going on. I think we err on both sides too often, sometimes we give too much consideration to stuff that doesn’t really amount to a hill of beans, and some decisions need more consideration than they get. I think we can get there, to where there’s the right level action that gets things done efficiently and openly.
Ward 3 Candidates
The current process being used by the governing body of Roeland Park does not follow its own ordinances. There was No motion to temporarily suspend these laws. It was just simply done. As the city conducts business today it does not benefit or accommodate the citizens of this community. The average citizen would expect city council business that was of interest to him/her to have discussion, information and/or debate on the subject at a council meeting. This is NOT the case in Roeland Park. Discussions for the majority of most topics are in meetings called the Committee of the Whole (COW). These meetings are held prior to after and council meetings and the citizens may or may not have an opportunity to speak.
The city ordinances set up a committee structure. It is in those committee meetings that issues are born and discussed. However, Committees are not discussing their own committee business. What is the purpose of having committees and committee chairs if issues are discussed in these COW meetings? All city council business is filtered through the COW meetings which although are public meetings does not offer a full transparency of city council transactions to the citizens. At a recent city council meeting 13 items were passed with a single motion. All of the items had been discussed in a Committee of the Whole. Yes, the current process needs to go and the city of Roeland Park should follow its own laws!
Procedural change is needed. There is no reason for Roeland Park’s council to meet more often than other Johnson County cities that are two and three times its size. Having fewer meetings would free up more of the city staff’s time and create a more efficient government all around. I would bring professionalism, a common sense approach and a willingness to work with others to the Council, which can only improve the process.
Tomorrow, the candidates will respond to item four:
If Walmart does move out of Roeland Park, the city will lose substantial sales tax revenue. The city has already been budgeting for that possibility. However, if more of a financial pinch is felt by the city, would you encourage more cost-cutting or additional revenue generation to fill the gap? Specifically describe the actions you would support.