Merriam resident Dennis Miles is making his second run for a seat on the city council. Miles has filed his candidacy for the Ward 1 seat, which opened up after Robert Weems resigned and moved out of the city.
Miles ran for the other Ward 1 seat in November 2017 against Scott Diebold, but he lost by 84 votes. He said civic duty is calling him to run for the seat again.
“I feel it’s everybody’s responsibility to serve the community that they live in, and that’s why I’m running,” Miles said. “I feel like I’m 67 years old and I need to give back to the community that I live in.”
If elected, he plans to focus on economic development, especially plans that bring business to the former Kmart store at Antioch and Shawnee Mission Parkway. He also hopes to be involved in plans for the current Antioch Library location once Johnson County Library leaves the building and moves into the new library being built on the new community center campus at Vavra Park.
But his most important goal is to find a way to get a supermarket or grocery store in town after the departure of Hen House from Merriam Town Center.
“The main thing that I see is there’s no supermarket in Merriam, which means the residents have to go outside the city to buy their basic needs of food,” he said. “Of course, I don’t think the city, they have anything to do with that, but it is very important that we have some type of grocery store in Merriam.
“I believe they’ve spent millions of dollars on new sidewalks and lights and all this kind of stuff — and hundreds of thousands of dollars on artwork — that doesn’t really help the community that much, where we don’t even have a supermarket.”
Miles also has his eyes on plans for the new community center, which he fully supports except for the aquatics portion because he believes it’s too small and lacks outdoor amenities. Although he’s a concerned citizen, he doesn’t identify himself as a member of the group of residents who submitted petitions protesting the project.
He also hopes to be involved in decision-making for the future of the Irene B. French Community Center.
“There’s several issues that I see going on with those items,” he said, citing the floodplain on which the French Center is built. “When it came up for election, I was for the (new) community center. I wasn’t for the fact that they switched it and put the new library and the parking garage, put all the (pool) amenities inside the building.
“But those are the things that can’t be changed now. We’re going to have to live with what they did.”
A resident of Merriam for 20 years, Miles is “semi-retired” as a locksmith. He said he’s been highly involved in community organizations for most of his life and has retained leadership roles, including as a Boy Scout, Mason and Shriner. He lives in Ward 1 with his wife, Dorothy Miles.