Mission primary candidates differ on Gateway plan; one of the three is no longer running

Among the three cities in northeast Johnson County that will hold elections this spring, only Mission has a primary on the ballot. Voters in Mission’s third ward, which covers the west and northwest sides of the city, can vote on Tuesday to narrow the field to two candidates for the general election in April.

Jennifer Cowdry
Jennifer Cowdry

One of the three candidates on Tuesday’s ballot, though, has said that he is no longer running. Nicholas Shigouri said his decision came too late to meet the deadline to have his name removed from the ballot. Shigouri said he has two businesses he is getting started and found the time commitment for the council would be too much.

The two candidates still in the race include incumbent Jennifer Cowdry, who is finishing her first term on the council, and challenger Kristin Inman. The two candidates agree that the future of the Mission Gateway project looms as the dominant issue for the city, but they take completely different views on the most recent proposal from developer Tom Valenti.

Cowdry has strongly supported the current proposal which is anchored by a 155,000 square foot Walmart on the eastern end. She was one of four votes on the city council to approve a preliminary site plan for the project and she has been enthusiastic about the design of the project during council meetings.

Kristin Inman
Kristin Inman
Inman, on the other hand, said she does not believe the plan meets the intent of the zoning code. “That’s a valuable piece of land,” she said. The Gateway issue is what motivated her to run for office, Inman said. The project also does not bring quality jobs to the city, she said.

The new council seated after the election will make decisions about financing and the development agreement for the site. Since the council was split 4-4 on the site plan with Mayor Steve Schowengerdt breaking the tie in favor of the plan, the election could have a significant impact on the future of the Gateway.

A second issue both candidates cite as important is the funding of Mission’s street program and the outcome of a court decision about the Transportation Utility Fee.

Cowdry, 57, is a physical therapist and holds a bachelor’s in physical therapy from University of Missouri. Inman, 54, is retired after 20 years as account manager and tech support. She has a bachelor’s in business administration from Iowa State University.

Should Shigouri, even though he is not actively running, gather enough votes to end up in one of the top two spots, his name will be on the April ballot, according to the Johnson County Election Office. The withdrawal deadline to remove a name from the ballot applies to both the primary and general election.