Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach this week filed to run for his fourth term leading the second largest city in Kansas.
Gerlach, who elevated from the city council to the mayor’s office in 2005 by defeating Neil Sader 62-38, was reelected in 2009 and 2013 without facing an opponent. This year, however, challenger Charlotte O’Hara got an early start on a campaign to unseat him, filing for the election in January. No other candidates have filed in the race at present.
Gerlach said he intends to continue championing policies to promote job growth and livability for the entire city, from the older neighborhoods in the northern parts of Overland Park that have seen substantial redevelopment efforts in recent years, to the greenfield development of new commercial and residential properties in the south.
He pointed to work to bring the Vision Metcalf plan to fruition as an example of the city’s commitment to regreening in northeast Johnson County.
“We see that when you bring new life into these areas, people in the surrounding neighborhoods will invest back in their properties, too,” he said. “That’s what’s going on in downtown Overland Park. It’s become a very hot place to buy a single family home. That’s how we rebuild neighborhoods.”
Gerlach also said that Overland Park’s ability to continue to attract employers — he cited a statistic showing the city had seen 23,000 new jobs over the past 12 years — was key to maintaining its high quality of life and low tax rate. (Overland Park has the lowest tax rate of any city of the first class in Kansas).
“If people are here with good, high quality jobs, that has benefits for a lot of other parts of our community,” he said.
O’Hara has shown she intends to make opposition to public financing incentives for projects in Overland Park, a trend that has grown over the past decade, central to her campaign. At the Overland Park City Council meeting on Monday, O’Hara used the public forum to speak out against a proposal to issue Federally Taxable Private Activity Revenue Bonds for the redevelopment of a building that will house offices for Digital Evolution Group. The council approved the measure 11-0.
Prior to becoming mayor, Gerlach served on the city council representing Ward 3 from 1995 to 2005. Gerlach is a graduate of Shawnee Mission South and went on to play basketball in college for Kansas State University from 1972 to 1976. He is the vice president of marketing at Gill Studios.