Incumbent Mickey Sandifer faces challenger Kris Durbin in race for Ward 4 seat on Shawnee council

Shawnee councilmember Mickey Sandifer

Long-serving incumbent Mickey Sandifer will face challenger Kris Durbin in the race for his Ward 4 seat on the Shawnee city council this fall.

This is Durbin’s first run for council. Sandifer has held the Ward 4 seat since April 2004.

“I just want to see the city continue on the path that we’ve been going with the growth and advancement of our city,” Sandifer said of his decision to seek a new term. “We’ve made such improvements and increased the value and the aesthetics of our city, and hopefully we’ve made good decisions for our residents.”

Sandifer is active in several local organizations, including serving on the board of the Old Shawnee Days Society and the Knights of Columbus Council 2332. He is a member of both the Shawnee Irish-American Club and the German-American Club.

He also volunteers with Safehome as a court advocate and is active with Christmas in October, Rebuilding Together Shawnee and the Shawnee Great Grillers BBQ.

Sandifer also serves on the Johnson County Licensing Review Board Education Committee, the Greater Kansas City Homelessness Task Force, the HMIS Governing Board System Functionality Committee, the Johnson County Affordable Housing Task Force and the Johnson County Transportation Cooperation Council. He was also recently appointed to the National League of Cities’ Human Development Steering Committee and the Leadership Fellows Committee.

Sandifer first moved to Shawnee in 1962 and has lived in Ward 4 since 1996. He and his wife, Dona, raised four children; Bobby, Jessica, Milissa and Joshua. He is the president of Sandifer Leasing, Inc. in Kansas City, Kansas.

Durbin criticizes council plans for Shawnee Community Center, Bellmont Promenade

Photo courtesy of Kris Durbin

Durbin said wants to put more risk management and fiscal responsibility back into council decisions; he thinks some of the projects recently passed by council are “poorly structured deals.” He is primarily concerned with the community center — he’s unopposed to it but wants to make the project more sustainable for the city.

“I fear that if we do pass the ballot for this community center, it’s going to cost our city dearly for decades,” he said.

Durbin also thinks the Bellmont Promenade project puts most of the risk in the hands of the city instead of the developers, which he believes could hurt Shawnee’s bond rating and financial position.

His work as a project controls manager gives him experience in monitoring, budgeting, scheduling and maintaining risk information on industrial and infrastructure construction projects. He did not disclose his company, which prefers to stay out of politics.

“It’s my opinion that we’ve got one of the greatest cities in all of the metro area; I love Shawnee, I love what it represents,” Durbin said. “I love the community and the people here, but just recently I feel like our city council’s been making some risky decisions that put that prosperity that our city is known for at risk.”

If elected, Durbin said he would support no new citywide taxes, diversifying the city’s revenue sources and limiting the amount of projects funded by tax increment financing (TIF). Meanwhile, he said he doesn’t want to “shock the system” but wants the city to maintain its obligations to the public, city employees (especially in the fire and police departments) and private partners.

A resident of Shawnee for nearly eight years, Durbin lives in Ward 4 with his wife, Jacque Durbin, and their daughter, Makyla.