Today we continue with responses from the candidates for Roeland Park mayor to the questionnaire items we developed with reader input last month. The fifth and final question is as follows:
What about Roeland Park are you most proud of? What does Roeland Park need to work to improve?
Note: Candidate Linda Mau did not respond to our questions.
I am proud of our community. Roeland Park is home to a diverse and creative group of talents: teachers, builders, health professionals, artists, business owners, musicians, and everything in between. Whether here for six months or 60 years, our residents love the benefits that living in Roeland Park provides: community, proximity, and opportunity. I love the deep roots of friendship that connect our neighbors. Elizabeth and I are excited to raise our family here. By promoting new ways to keep our citizens informed and engaged, we can maximize the use of our collective talents and brighten our city’s future. This includes working to better involve students at our schools in the civic process, thus creating the next generation of Roeland Park leaders, an update to the city website, and increasing access to elected officials.
Even in a “mature” city, with little space available for expansion, it is still possible to cultivate new business opportunities, adding to our commercial tax base and lessening the financial burden on homeowners. As an attorney, I hope my experience and education can help foster this growth. Revisiting the city’s zoning regulations and redeveloping unused — or underutilized — properties will directly benefit our residents financially and add walkable amenities. We must stay vigilant for, and actively pursue, the right opportunities to welcome businesses that enhance our city and quality of life.
As Mayor, I will work hard, sacrifice, and fight for our community. Roeland Park deserves a dedicated public servant. I believe I am the person for the job. Please vote Mike Kelly on August 1st.
Having lived in Roeland Park for over 20 years, I am most proud that our city has been able to stay strong even when faced with major hurdles. I’m also very proud of our leaf pickup program, a service our citizens deem as very essential. In addition, our city has always been able to adopt and thrive. We need to focus on business and growth. We need an established comprehensive method of attracting new businesses. As a retired CPA I can offer my time and expertise to bring in new business.
I am most proud of the progress made by Roeland Park’s governing body and staff in improving infrastructure and governance over the last 25 years.
When we moved to Roeland Park 30 years ago the City Council operated like an old-fashioned board of county commissioners or ward heelers. The goal of council members was to grab as many street improvement dollars for their ward as they could. Stormwater improvements were not done as a matter of policy. Our street had crumbling lazy-back curbs going back to the ‘50’s. Some streets had drainage ditches and no curbs. Those streets could not be improved until stormwater improvements were done. Of course, many houses routinely flooded. Anything over a half inch of rain turned the intersection of 50th and Howe into a small pond, just to cite one example. The commercial district’s code violations were too numerous to count.
Beginning 25 years ago things began to change. (For the record, my involvement in city government began only 20 years ago.) A city administrator was hired. An ethics ordinance was passed. Compensation studies were performed and compensation of police and non-uniformed employees was made competitive. A professional building inspector was hired. Stormwater improvements were installed. All drainage ditches were replaced with curbs and gutters. Miles of sidewalk were installed. City-wide contracting of trash was begun, saving residents and the City $180,000 per year. The commercial district was redeveloped. The aquatic center was built. The City’s financial reporting received the Government Finance Officers Association excellence award.
As a Council Member I played a part in most of those improvements. I’m proud of that.
What needs to improve? Code enforcement first comes to mind. Too many violations continue unabated while well-meaning homeowners are cited for no good reason. Enforcement must be fair and firm. (Speaking of the dark old days above – Code violation citations were used as a means of attack between political foes.)
Street maintenance has recently gone to a chip and seal surface. It’s cheaper, but looks cheap and creates dust. It’s penny-wise, pound foolish.
I came on the Council 18 years ago with big ideas regarding mixed use development of the City’s periphery in line with various recommendations by urban planners and architects. I found that the day to day issues of trash, street repair and stormwater control blocked out those loftier goals. I’d like to take another run at it.
Thanks to the candidates for participating this week.