Tax incentives, LGBTQ legal protections and affordable housing: Our questions for the Overland Park city council candidates

Tax incentives and housing are among the big issues residents are paying attention to ahead of the primary elections.

Earlier this month, we asked our readers to submit suggestions for questions they’d like to hear the candidates running for seats on the Overland Park city council 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 city council races that will be on the August primary ballot — Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 5.

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
Overland Park has thus far declined to take up a non-discrimination ordinance providing legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, with leaders saying they hope the legislature will pass a state law that addresses the issue. Do you support this “wait and see” approach? Do you believe the city council should formally consider a city level NDO?

Question 3
Earlier this year, the council adopted the recommendations of the months-long Forward OP planning process, which called for more modern approaches to transportation and infrastructure; a wider variety of housing options; and development of more spaces and events to encourage people gathering together. Do you support the Forward OP vision? If elected, how would you work to see it implemented?

Question 4
Overland Park has seen an influx of high-end apartment projects in recent years — but rental rates put them out of reach for many middle and lower income individuals. Does Overland Park need more affordable housing? If so, what strategies should the city be looking at?

Question 5
The Metro KC Climate Action Coalition has organized to bring local elected officials together to discuss steps city and county governments can take to address climate change. Do you believe local government has a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing other environmental issues? If so, what steps would you like to see the city take?