Today we finish up the Overland Park mayoral candidates’ responses to our general election questionnaire. Here’s the final item:
What is Overland Park’s biggest weakness, and what will you do about it as mayor?
Carl Gerlach (incumbent)
Overland Park has won many awards including, a Top 10 City in the Nation, and the #1 City in the U.S. to Raise a Family, but even as good as we are, I believe our “Best Days are Yet to Come.” In both rankings, we received lower rankings for areas of entertainment. Even though we offer the Scheels Overland Park Soccer Complex and the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead along with Top Golf, IFly, and Dave and Busters, we need to continue to add entertainment venues for our citizens and visitors that bring them an experience.
a. Corporate Welfare, subsidizing wealthy corporations and developers with tax incentives and abatements. I would work to stop giving away $100s of millions of dollars to the big boys as the Mayor of San Jose, California has done. Overland Park never gave any incentives prior to 1996. This experiment we have been suffering through for the last 20 years, accelerating greatly within the last 10 years, has made the rich, richer and left the rest of us holding the bag by paying much higher property taxes.
b. Lack of transparency and willingness to listen to the public. Make public hearings actually be of importance instead of the window dressing they are now. Key elements, such as requirement new hires be new residents of the area, are not reflected in the final signed documents, which make the cost/benefit analysis of projects worthless and irrelevant. Also, reinstate public comment time so residents of O.P. have an open forum to voice their concerns to our city council, as is the policy of other cities in Johnson County, the school districts and county. Transparency is of critical importance and I would support and work towards televising or live streaming council meetings for public viewing ASAP!!!!
Thanks to the candidates for participating this week.