Three Overland Park residents have entered the race for a Ward 1 seat on the council, triggering an August primary election.
Holly Grummert and Taryn Jones filed their candidacies for the seat currently filled by incumbent Terry Happer Scheier, who first joined the council in 2001.
Jones and Grummert are both seeking their first elected positions in office. Here’s a look at where the candidates stand on the issues.
A resident of Overland Park for the past 11 years and Johnson County for the past 18, Grummert said she was inspired to run for Overland Park council after working to establish a neighborhood association for her neighbors. Through the association, she and her neighbors would be able to access grants from the city, which provide funding for block parties and related activities.
“I feel like that’s how my city council run has begun, just because I’ve gotten to know the city government part better,” she said. “When you learn more, you see more what’s going on…I just felt like there was a real need for Ward 1, specifically, to have a stronger voice for the citizens. I feel like there has not been an opportunity for the voice to be very strong, what people actually want in their ward and want their city to look like.”
If elected, Grummert said she plans to focus on identifying affordable housing opportunities for Overland Park residents, especially in Ward 1. She thinks the city dialogue hasn’t included enough about affordable housing.
“In Ward 1, we have just been building all of these giant apartments that are not going to be affordable for teachers and policemen, or city employees,” she added. “These are not designed for that section of society.”
If elected, Grummert said she will also focus on guiding public financing options for future development. She believes her experiences — as a woman, a business leader and an active PTA member — will facilitate dialogue and build partnerships across multiple groups when working on projects.
“We have these great neighborhoods, and we have this strong business community,” she said. “I think we need to get those two things together, create a vision for what we want our town to look like, and really move that forward together so everyone has their voice and we can all create those yummy spaces that I think people are really looking for as we develop and grow our city.”
During her time in the area, she has worked in human resources and her own small business before getting more actively involved in PTA at Prairie Elementary, where her children are enrolled. She also works a part-time gig. She lives in Ward 1 with her husband, Scott Grummert, and their three children.
A resident of Overland Park for the past five years, Jones said she hopes to bring a diverse voice to the council, speaking as a person with a disability and as a lesbian.
“There has been a lot of issues affecting Overland Park that I want to be a part of, and so that’s kind of what additionally, made me run,” she said. “The city council needs more diversity and different voices.
“To my knowledge, there has never been an LGBT candidate on this council, and there’s also, to my knowledge, never been anyone with a disability on the city council.”
If elected, Jones hopes to focus on getting Overland Park to adopt a nondiscrimination ordinance. She also wants to focus on greener development opportunities and also wants to push for more engagement between the council and residents.
“I feel like, [with] my diversity, I bring a lot to the table by representing groups that maybe haven’t been represented as much in the past,” she said. “I think it’s important for those groups to have representation that they may not have had before. And I know how to work with others.”
Jones is a member of the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition, serving on the coalition’s policy committee. She is studying social work in graduate school at the University of Kansas. She has interned at SAFEHOME and also works on a PRN (as-needed) basis for Phoenix Home Care & Hospice. Once she completes her graduate degree next year, she hopes to become a social worker in the Kansas City metro area.
Terry Happer Scheier
Happer Scheier is seeking her fourth complete term on the council. She was appointed to the Ward 1 seat in 2001 and then elected in April 2003 and since been re-elected in April 2007, 2011 and 2015. As of January, she now serves as council president.
“I am running for re-election because I have put strong efforts into helping make Ward 1 as well as the city of Overland Park a desirable place to live and work and enjoy life in general,” she said in an emailed response. “I plan to continue with this effort with the support of my constituents.”
If re-elected, Happer Scheier said she plans to focus on keeping Ward 1 a place for residents from all socioeconomic backgrounds to live. She also hopes to foster a safer environment and positive growth.
An Overland Park resident for more than 60 years, Happer Scheier attended Bishop Miege High School, Johnson County Community College and the University of Kansas.
She has been involved in several boards and committees since 1990, including: Downtown Development Review Board; as chair of the Legacy of Greenery Committee; Drug and Alcoholism Council of Johnson County; Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee; Community Oriented Police program; Overland Park Citizen Police Academy; Leadership Overland Park; Planning Commission; and Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, according to the city website.
Additionally she had been involved in the neighborhood executive committee since 1990, the city’s rental registration program, and on the environmental committee that proposed the residential recycling program that is in use in the city today.