Merriam residents Staci Chivetta and Sam Matier as well as incumbent Councilmember Bob Pape have filed their candidacy for the Ward 4 seat on the city council, triggering an August primary.
A Merriam resident for nearly six years, Chivetta is the chair of the 5701 Merriam Drive Steering Committee and also serves on the Merriam Public Art Committee. In her first run for elected office, she hopes to bring more diversity to the Merriam council in terms of age and gender.
“I just have gotten so involved with the committees that I’m on and I just have been even more engaged with the city,” Chivetta said, adding that she hopes to cultivate Merriam as a place to raise her family. “In terms of everything that’s going on, I think it’s a great time to be living in Merriam and getting involved.”
If elected, Chivetta hopes to start making Merriam more of a destination, especially in the downtown area. She wants to focus on walkability and build on the farmers market area as well.
“With the community center moving and the determination of what’s going to happen at 5701 Merriam Drive, I think that could just be such an interesting point for our city to figure out what’s going to happen there,” she said. “I also just want to make sure that we’re listening to the community and doing what everyone feels is right for that space.”
A licensed interior designer for about 10 years, Chivetta works for Scott Rice Office Works, a commercial furniture company in Lenexa. She earned a master’s degree in interior architecture and product design at Kansas State University.
She believes her professional experience listening to clients, creativity and task management with project logistics will benefit Merriam residents if she joins the council.
Chivetta is also involved in outreach and engagement efforts in the local design community, including with the American Institute of Architects. She also mentors local Girl Scouts on their Cookie Construction projects.
She lives in Ward 4 with her husband, Dan Chivetta, and their 2-year-old daughter.
A Merriam resident for most of the past three decades, Matier is seeking his first seat on the council. He has previously run for office but not yet been elected.
He has been regularly attending council meetings for the past four years, video recording many of them and posting them on his YouTube channel. He maintains a newsletter “What’s Happening in Merriam City Hall.”
“I think the people of Merriam are not being heard,” Matier said.”They’re being ignored. Their wishes, they’re not being heard. The city council is not following what they want, and I think money is being spent foolishly.”
Most of Matier’s areas of concerns relate to the future community center and design of the outdoor aquatics component, as well as the addition of a parking garage and a branch of the Johnson County Library (relocating its Antioch branch onto the community center campus at Vavra Park).
Matier said he was involved in “the trash can debacle,” when city councilmembers previously pushed for city code that required residents to screen their dumpsters from view. He said he is also against the concept of eminent domain.
“I want the city council to represent the people and not themselves,” he added.
If elected, Matier would like to focus on financial issues and keeping the city’s debt low and reducing the mill levy, if possible. He opposes the funding of public art and would rather see city dollars spent on programs like leaf pickup. He believes his effort to save taxpayer dollars and communicate with other residents make him an ideal candidate.
Matier serves on the Merriam drainage board. He also volunteers for organizations by helping with tech needs.
Matier is a semi-retired business analyst for corporations. He earned an engineering degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
A Merriam resident since 1965 (except for a few years when he lived in Overland Park, just shy of the Merriam city limit), Pape was first elected to the council in April 2015. Prior to that, he served 38 years in the fire service for the city of Merriam.
“I love this city; I’m 62 years old, I’m just not ready to quit,” he said. “I want to continue to see Merriam thrive and get better. It’s changed so much over 42 years, and every year I see it getting better, so I want to be a part of that.”
He began as a volunteer firefighter in 1976 and helped implement the integration of the Merriam and Overland Park fire departments. He retired as fire chief and fire marshal in September 2014.
Pape is most excited about the city’s new community center, a project he has been a part of during his time on the council. He hopes to continue infrastructure improvements, including curbs, streets and sidewalks, and build on the city’s drive-ability and walkability. He also wants to help the city get a grocery store again, after Hen House closed a few months ago in Merriam Town Center.
“I want to make sure we continue to be a safe community, a place people are proud to be a part of,” he said, citing his devotion to public service.
Pape said he is also proud of the city’s efforts to help residents improve their property values through the exterior improvement grant program, the block party grants and large-item pickup service.
He is a volunteer for the city’s annual Flags for Freedom program and a member of the Old Mission Kiwanis Club. He is also a member of Merriam Christian Church, assisting with groundskeeping. He earned an associate’s degree in Johnson County Community College and stayed on to study fire science there; he also earned a bachelor’s degree in personnel administration and master’s degree in public administration at the University of Kansas.
Pape lives in Ward 4 with his sister, Beverly Pape. He has one grown son.