Community center vote, economic development and tax incentives: Our questions for the Shawnee governing body candidates

Shawnee is at a fork in the road in terms of development. Will the city look to remain a “bedroom” community? Or will it push for more development and business growth?

Earlier this month, we asked our readers to submit suggestions for questions they’d like to hear the candidates running for seats on the Shawnee governing body address.

Based on the (ample) input we received, we’ve developed the five-item questionnaire below and sent it out to the candidates competing in races that will be on the August primary ballot — Ward 3 (two-year term), Ward 3 (full term), Ward 4 and Shawnee Mayor.

We’ll be running the candidates’ responses to these items starting Monday, July 15.

Question 1
In recent years, developers have become increasingly likely to seek public finance incentives like tax increment financing and community improvement district sales taxes to pay for parts of their private projects. What’s your stance on the use of such incentives? When, if ever, is it appropriate to commit public finances to private real estate projects?

Question 2
In May, Shawnee voters soundly rejected a proposed property tax increase to pay for a community center. What steps should the city be taking following the outcome of the election: Should it be looking to put together a different proposal for building and funding a community center? Should it be looking at different ideas for using the land?

Question 3
Shawnee has thus far declined to take up a non-discrimination ordinance providing legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. Do you believe the city council should formally consider a city level NDO? Why or why not?

Question 4
There seem to be competing visions for the future of Shawnee. Some residents prefer Shawnee remain primarily a residential “bedroom” community. Others would like to see the city taking active steps to foster growth with more businesses and development. Where do you fall on this spectrum?

Question 5
Does Shawnee need more affordable housing options? If so, what strategies should the city be looking at to make such options available?