Four Merriam residents are vying for the Ward 1 seat on the Merriam council, triggering an August primary election.
John Canterbury and Brian Shapley face newly-appointed councilmember and incumbent Jason Silvers as well as fellow challenger Dennis Miles, who filed his candidacy in April. The Merriam council appointed Silvers in April to fill the vacant Ward 1 seat, replacing Robert Weems, who moved out of the city.
A Merriam resident since 2007, Canterbury is seeking another term on the council after he ran unopposed and served from 2011 to 2015. He first ran for the Ward 1 seat in 2009 but lost.
“I paid attention to some of the things going on within the city and city government, and I felt at the time that I left that I was leaving it in good hands, and then I have not been in total agreement with some of the things that have occurred in the last few years,” he said.
Canterbury said he had concerns with the city process for selecting public artwork as well as design plans for the new community center. He feels the city leaders ignored residents’ requests to stall the process and make the outdoor aquatics in the new facility bigger.
“I want to be the ear of the people and actually listen to them,” he said. “I want to listen to them and speak up for them.”
Canterbury serves as the director of event technologies and audio/video services at Hilton Kansas City Airport hotel. He serves on the executive board of Camp MITIOG and volunteers with the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. He earned a public relations degree from Central Missouri State University (now called the University of Central Missouri).
Canterbury also owns his own DJ company, Canterbury DJ, and plays bass and sings with Pompous Jack, a local band. He lives in Ward 1 with his wife, Julie Canterbury. They have a grown son.
A resident of Merriam for the past four years, Shapley is pursuing his first elected office “as a way to give back to Merriam.”
“I have been really blown away, since moving to Merriam, how fantastic this community is,” he said. “My family and I, we honestly love everything about living here and sharing in the community.”
Shapley says he doesn’t have anything goals in mind if elected; rather, he hopes to keep current progress going.
“I think we’re on a really good path,” he said, citing the development of the new community center. “I would like to make sure that as we move forward, every citizen in Merriam feels like they have an equal voice, equal power and equal responsibility in how the city operates, including how progress is made on that project.”
Shapley, as a member of Equality Kansas, advocated for the city’s newly adopted nondiscrimination ordinance, which provides legal protections for LGBTQ residents and employees.
He hopes to bring to the council his knowledge and experience on multiple boards. Shapley has been involved in multiple organizations, including on the board of directors for Equality Kansas and on the executive board of the Johnson County Democratic Party. Shapley earned a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit administration from Missouri Valley College.
He previously served as a district executive for the Boy Scouts of America and was area director of the American Baptist Men’s Disaster Response Unit. He was also among the early members of Journey Community Church in Overland Park.
Shapley is a trainer of Intuit Quickbooks with Concentrix in Olathe. He lives in Ward 1 with his wife, Kristi Shapley, and their two children ages 6 and 8.
A resident of Merriam since 2012, Silvers is seeking his first elected position in local government. If elected, he would remain in the seat on the council he was appointed to earlier this year.
“I felt like it was more time for me to get involved in the government side of the city I live in, and this just seemed like the perfect opportunity,” he said.
If elected, Silvers hopes to focus on keeping Merriam’s current progress and getting more acquainted at the city level, but he also wants to work on affordable housing opportunities for all residents.
“I want to keep Merriam diverse and accessible to everybody,” he said.
When he lived in Kansas City, Mo., Silvers previously volunteered as treasurer and later vice president of the Plaza Westport Neighborhood Association. In his experiences, he was concerned that Kansas City leaders weren’t listening to him and the other residents on issues like developments encroaching on their properties. He hopes to bring those experiences and empathy to his leadership on the council.
He also appreciates Merriam’s “forward-thinking mentality” for funding city functions, such as public works.
Silvers earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and design from Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio and has mainly worked in advertising ever since. He does marketing for a nonprofit in Leawood and volunteers for Great Plains SPCA in Merriam.
He lives in Ward 1 with his wife, Jennifer Silvers.