2018 Election primer: Prairie Village mayor

Eric Mikkelson and Serena Schermoly are the candidates on the ballot for Prairie Village mayor.

Voters in Prairie Village on Tuesday will select a leader to replace outgoing Mayor Laura Wassmer in January.

Ward 2 councilmember Serena Schermoly and former Ward 3 councilmember Eric Mikkelson emerged from the primary field, which included current Ward 3 councilmember Andrew Wang, to advance to the general. Mikkelson took 51 percent of the total vote in the three-person primary field. Schermoly took 25 percent of the primary vote.

Here’s a look at their biographies and their positions on the issues:

Serena Schermoly

Education: Attended Bible Fellowship High School in Tulsa, Okla. Did not graduate high school or complete a GED program.

Occupation: Oversees trucking safety programs through her company RSR. Schermoly ran a promotional products and marketing company called 3 Cups Media for three years before it stopped doing business this year.

Elected experience: Schermoly was elected to the Prairie Village city council serving Ward 2 in April 2016. Her term expires in January 2020.

Eric Mikkelson

Education: Received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his law degree from the University of Kansas.

Occupation: Mikkelson is a partner in the Corporate Finance Division at Stinson Leonard Street. Prior to joining the firm in 2013, he spent 10 years with Dentons.

Elected experience: Mikkelson was elected to the Prairie Village City Council serving Ward 3 in April 2014 and served through the end of his term in January 2018. He did not seek reelection to his seat on the council.

Issues

Last month and ahead of the primary we gave the candidates the chance to respond to questionnaires we put together with input from our readers. Links to the posts that have the candidates’ responses to each of our questionnaire items are below.

General election questionnaire

  • Management of teardown-rebuilds. The most controversial issue in Prairie Village the past several years has been the trend of teardown-rebuild projects and their impact on the character of surrounding neighborhoods. What would successful management of this issue look like to you?
  • Proposed non-discrimination ordinance. Recently, the governing body considered a resolution that would have affirmed Prairie Village’s opposition to discrimination against women. The council will also be considering an ordinance that would grant legal protections to LGBTQ individuals in the city. Do you believe such proposals are within the purview of city government? Are they a valuable use of staff’s time? Do you support these protection measures in Prairie Village? Why or why not?
  • Investing tax revenues. Property values in Prairie Village have risen sharply the past few years — but the city’s property tax rate has stayed the same, as have the rates of several other taxing entities. Should the city be taking any steps to address property tax burden on homeowners? Or should it be investing the additional tax revenue its receiving in city projects?
  • Top infrastructure need. What’s the top infrastructure need — be it with roads, parks or other facilities — you see for the city today, and how would you go about getting it fulfilled as mayor?
  • Qualifications for mayor. What makes you the best candidate to lead Prairie Village government the next four year and possibly beyond?

Primary questionnaire

  • Neighborhood character. A majority of residents say they are concerned about the teardown-rebuild trend and the impact it’s having on neighborhoods. Should the city be taking additional steps to ensure new homes “fit” the neighborhoods where they are built? Should the city being looking at ways to reduce disruption to neighbors from new home construction?
  • Role of mayor. What’s your view of the role of a mayor in a city like Prairie Village? Should the top elected official be setting a bold vision for the city? Primarily minding spending? Focusing on some other priority?
  • Rising property taxes. Prairie Village homeowners have seen their appraised home values increase faster than most of the rest of the county the past few years. What’s your view of the city’s property tax rate in the face of these rising home values?
  • Bike and walkability. The governing body has considered a number of initiatives in recent years to expand bike and pedestrian trails throughout Prairie Village — but has backed away from some projects after the objection of homeowners. Do you think expansion of bike and pedestrians trails is a priority for the city? If so, what would you do to see such projects become a reality?
  • Top priority as mayor. If you were elected mayor, what’s the top thing you hope you could say about Prairie Village at the end of your term that you can’t say today?

Forums and debates

The Shawnee Mission Post hosted a candidate forum ahead of the primary as well as last month. We also moderate a forum on environmental issues hosted by the Prairie Village Environmental and Recycling committee. Video from all three forums is below:

General election forum

A written summary of the forum is available here.

Video is below:

Environmental issues forum

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Primary forum

A written summary of the forum is available here.

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