Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of this fall’s local elections primary. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for city council in Lenexa.
Today, we publish the candidates’ responses to item two:
What’s the biggest challenge facing the city of Lenexa today, and what should city government be doing about it?
City Council Ward 1
When vision 2020 began in the 1990s, the city had significantly more agricultural land and open spaces. As we look forward to vision 2040, the open areas will be further reduced. This presents challenges in creating responsible commercial and residential development. The way the city addresses housing, businesses, infrastructure, environmental challenges, and city services will need to be continually evaluated and adjusted accordingly to meet current and future needs. I would use my experience as a Construction Manager and Planning Commissioner to follow local and national trends and technological advances to provide the best quality of life for our residents.
The biggest challenge facing Lenexa today is how to meet the needs of an increasing population without leaving behind the older parts of the community. Since the annex of western Lenexa, the city center has shifted and population has continued to grow. While the immediate needs in infrastructure and development are in newer areas, we need to also make sure that the areas with existing development are not overlooked for redevelopment opportunities. This can be addressed by prioritizing revitalization efforts to foster and grow our neighborhood communities while balancing the needs of the increasing population.
City Council Ward 4
I think that all cities in Johnson County are facing a similar problem: how to keep up with our growing population. We need to remain focused on caring for existing infrastructure, providing affordable housing and maintaining responsiveness of public safety and municipal services. All of these decisions need also be made with the goal of responsible land and water management, reducing energy usage, providing a variety of safe modes of transportation.
As a growing city, Lenexa does face challenges with this success. As quality development continues at a rapid pace to enhance the city’s diverse economic base it becomes challenging to balance for reinvestment in older retail sites and neighborhoods. As a candidate for Ward 4, the historical community in Lenexa, residents have concerns about what will happen to the East side as they see focus and higher end density development in City Center and other development on the West side of I-435. The city government should have the ability, with our 50% commercial tax base, to reinvest in Wards 4 & 3 to maintain safe and vibrant neighborhoods and support for the Old Town Lenexa district. The residents have always scored the city high on public safety and city services. The city is now looking at some of these facilities, that were built in 1980’s when Lenexa’s population was 19,000 and when we first moved to the Country Hill neighborhood. With the estimated population at 55,300 in 2019, there is a challenge to ensure the public safety of our residents and therefore the city is looking at the design and build of a new Public Safety Complex to address the current and future population needs. The city government is looking at our public safety needs with the 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan which the Governing Body will review and adopt in early December. I fully support these efforts to maintain and improve public safety and redevelopment in Ward 4 and all of Lenexa.
Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item three:
Almost 40% of jobs in Johnson County pay under $36,000 and more than one in three Johnson County households are single income households. What housing options would you like to see put into place in our community to make sure that everyone who works here can afford to live here? (This question came from the Johnson County Health Equity Network, which focuses on housing affordability, stability and safety).