Today we continue with responses from the candidates for Roeland Park mayor to the questionnaire items we developed with reader input last month. The second question is as follows:
Some residents have been concerned in recent years that the council from time to time gets caught up in personal squabbles. As mayor, what steps would you take to ensure that Roeland Park’s city council and workshop meetings are civil and productive?
Note: Candidate Linda Mau did not respond to our first questionnaire items.
First and foremost, I will listen to my constituents. I will promote rational dialogue and implement the best solutions for Roeland Park, regardless from where they come. Further, I will work as Mayor to inspire members of the community who have stayed out of Roeland Park civics to get involved and help make our city stronger. I am proud that my push for rational dialogue has been endorsed by the MainStream Coalition, and I will continue to make it a priority. There is enough divisiveness in Washington and Topeka. The common challenges we face on a day-to day basis in our community require consideration of solutions based upon their merits. These solutions, such as quality parks, streets, and schools, transcend politics.
As our City Mayor, one of the many responsibilities of the job is to keep the council in line and in good relations with one another. This can be achieved with one on one meetings and council retreats. However, as someone who’s had two terms as a council member I can tell you a lot of the squabbles usually occurs when a council member is not following our own city ordinances and wants to change them without any deliberation.
When I first ran for the Roeland Park Council in 1999, one of my slogans was “Keep Roeland Park out of the papers.” We did that A few seats changed; we got big things done – Streets, curbs, gutters, stormwater control, and creation of appropriate reserves. Several generations of members of the governing body have come and gone. It’s my observation that those fomenting discord are mostly gone.
Based on my own recent experience as a citizen appearing before the Governing Body, I believe it is critically important that meetings be run in an impartial, even-handed manner. Arbitrarily cutting the speaking time of citizens before the Governing Body who might be saying what you might not want to hear must cease.
I have made this point in the past. The Council formerly had four standing committees – Administration, Finance, Public Works and Safety. Each committee comprised two council members, who served for two years in a predetermined rotation. Those committee members were the “experts” in their bailiwick. They incorporated citizens in their deliberations in a casual, give-and-take manner. The committee took its recommendations to the full council for a vote. Some ten years ago, the then City Administrator promoted the idea of the “Committee of the Whole,” which essentially opens all issues up for discussion and grandstanding twice. The public is essentially shut out of the process, except for the three or four minutes they might be given to speak, with no two-way communication.
My recommendation regarding the committee structure might seem to wander from the question, but it got business done more efficiently, allowed more citizen input and avoided the opportunity for grandstanding and theater in the redundant Committee of the Whole.
Tomorrow, we’ll run the candidates responses to question number three:
A group of Roeland Park citizens have taken it upon themselves to raise funds for the continued development of R Park. Do you support further development and preservation of existing parks in Roeland Park? If so, what features would you like to see added to community parks? How should those developments be funded?