Leawood had built a deserved reputation as one of the best places in Kansas and beyond to live, work and play.
That was the takeaway message from Mayor Peggy Dunn’s State of the City address, delivered Thursday at the Ironhorse Golf Club.
But Dunn also had words of caution, pointing to the recently ended 35-day federal government shutdown as a sign of troubling partisanship, and imploring state leaders to work through continued friction over K-12 funding.
Among the accolades Leawood had received this past year that Dunn highlighted Thursday:
- Leawood was ranked first out of 1,300 cities in WalletHub’s list of the Best Small Cities in America, with top marks in economic vitality, quality of life, education, health and public safety
- Websites Niche and HomeSnacks both ranked Leawood as the “Best Place to Live in Kansas”
- Zippia.com rated Leawood as the “Most Successful City in Kansas”
- The National Council for Home Safety and Security rated Leawood as the second “Safest City in Kansas”
- SAFEHOME rated Leawood as the third “Safest City in Kansas”
Echoing sentiments from her State of the City address the past two years, Dunn said she hopes Kansas legislators can find a sustainable solution and “permanent resolution” for funding public education — first to find additional funding and then to index that total amount to inflation.
“I am very hopeful that our new governor, Laura Kelly, will prove to be a catalyst for innovative thinking and lead a truly bipartisan effort to put the state on the right path,” Dunn said.
Following the announcement that the federal government is temporarily open until Feb. 15, Dunn expressed hope that elected officials can work together across party lines to find compromise on the nation’s major issues.
“Leawood’s municipal government, however, is permanently open for business,” she added. “I’m particularly pleased that we are a ‘nonpartisan’ form of government as I truly believe that is most beneficial for cooperation and collaboration. We were elected to serve the best interests of our residents regardless of political affiliations.”
City-wide accomplishments in police, fire, public works
Among other highlights from Dunn’s speech:
- Leawood reported that the city experienced a 22 percent reduction in violent crimes as well as reductions in vehicle crashes from 2017
- Police worked with state leaders to pass the “Hot Car/Good Samaritan Bill” which removed civil liability for someone breaking into a vehicle to rescue an at-risk person or pet
- Seven police officers received life saving awards
- The Leawood Fire Department retained international accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International as well as Leawood’s Insurance Services Organization Public Protection Classification rating of “One,” making the city one of a handful in the nation with both recognitions
- The Leawood public works department handled $10 million worth of contracts, with the majority of projects focusing on streets and more than 20 miles of stormwater construction
Text of Dunn’s full remarks provided by the city of Leawood is embedded below: