Shawnee Mayoral candidates on the issues: Competing visions for the future of Shawnee

The Old Shawnee Days parade makes its way down Johnson Drive through downtown. Photo credit Andrew Poland.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of the August primary. Based on the (ample) input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for mayor in Shawnee.

Today we share the candidates’ responses to question four:

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?

Dawn Tubbesing

In order to keep taxes low for our residents, it is important that Shawnee continue to move forward and show strong growth as a business community. It is a difficult balance to strike, but I believe that as our businesses grow, costs for our residents decrease. Through sound management at the city level, and by working with our Chamber and Economic Development Council, we can grow our city in the measured and planned way that our citizens deserve.

Michelle Distler (incumbent)

Everyone loves the small town feeling Shawnee offers and I think if we do it right, we can keep that unique small town feel about us while at the same time offering the amenities our residents want like restaurants, shops, sports, and other family focused entertainment. We currently have over 870 new building permits for residences and the more rooftops and population we bring to Shawnee, especially west of 435, the more commercial development we will see. This year we currently have 46 active projects with $418 million in capital investment that includes 3052 jobs and $67 million in payroll. We have an amazing President and CEO of our Shawnee Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council and we are taking active steps to foster growth and you will see it build, but nothing happens overnight. I want to see responsible growth and quality development of what is right for Shawnee, not to ‘compete’ with others. And again, I think with the collaborative effort of the Imagine Shawnee strategic plan will take us where our residents and businesses want to go. Every resident and business in Shawnee deserves to be involved with and build from the prosperity of this great city. We need a collaborative vision for the community’s future.

Stephanie Meyer

Change is inevitable; I believe we should make that change work for us. It is absolutely possible to maintain our community identity, while also working to grow and diversify our local economy – in fact, it should be a market differentiator. For too long, we’ve operated without a plan or vision for this change, and the result is an unsustainable reliance on residential property taxes, which will only be compounded if we take the “bedroom” community approach or continue to insist that we shouldn’t be competing with other cities.

Shawnee has several unique community assets – our historic downtown, youth sports corridor, and industrial land ripe for development – and we need someone unafraid to take a seat at the regional table to turn this potential into reality. Strategic economic development is the only sustainable means of reducing our residential property tax burden, while maintaining core services and providing for our long-term infrastructure needs.

Ajay Sood

Did not respond.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item number five:

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