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 five:
In recent months, city officials from across the metro area have been coordinating on ideas that local governments can take to address climate change. Do you support the idea of city government taking steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What specific steps would you like to see Lenexa take on the issue?
City Council Ward 1
Lenexa is a model that others look to as being leaders in many areas, and I would like to see Lenexa be a champion to address climate change. Our city has always been great planners but when our Vision 2040 did not address climate change or any plan to make green initiatives a priority, it concerned me. There are things that our city is doing to be more energy efficient such as LEED certification but there is no map to follow with measurable targets for a greener city.
As we continue to further develop the city, there needs to be a plan for addressing additional green space and trees to draw down carbon emissions. We can encourage solar and wind energy, recycling, composting, encourage electric vehicles and provide education to the residents on how to make an impact. Making our city more walkable and bikeable by implementing Complete Streets is a good starting point.
I attended the 1st annual KC Climate Action Summit a month ago with over 70 elected representatives and 700 people from across the KC Metro. I would like to see the city join this coalition to learn best practices and attainable goals.
I absolutely support local governments taking steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in publicly owned and maintained facilities when financially feasible. Investments in sustainable products and methods can sometimes have large up-front cost, but typically have payback periods. A perfect example is the conversion of all street lights from high pressure sodium to LED. This change results in an energy reduction of 50-75% and a reduction in maintenance cost due to the reliability and longevity of LED products. The return on this energy efficient investment is 5-6 years. Currently the city operates under the 2012 Energy Conservation code as minimum standard. The city should also continue to encourage private development to go above and beyond when possible.
City Council Ward 4
I would support local governments in taking steps to increase energy efficiencies and reduce greenhouse emissions. Lenexa has a long history of being in the forefront in climate change. The City of Lenexa was one of the first cities in the area to implement residential curb side recycling. I believe Lenexa has continued over these many years to implement valuable programs such as the nationally acclaimed Rain to Recreation, rain barrels and recently the native plants cost share program. In each of the community Vision projects they include climate change initiatives. The Vison 2040 looked at the future changes in transportation to vehicle sharing and driverless cars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I would like to see Lenexa incorporate the Complete Streets Plan into applicable infrastructure projects, zoning consideration and in future development. On a smaller scale I would like to see more LED street lighting, more of the city’s vehicle fleet converted to natural gas and more stormwater conservation projects.
I believe it is essential for cities to adopt practices to increase energy efficiency and adopt other initiatives to address global warming. I currently serve on the Policy Committee of the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition, which is working to develop a regional climate action plan to help our community meet its vision related to sustainability and resilience. If elected, I would represent Lenexa among this group of regional leaders and would be interested in policy establishing a carbon budget, requiring net zero for any new municipal buildings, electrifying our fleet as vehicles are replaced, implementing our complete streets plan, and exploring options for homeowner participation in rooftop solar and composting programs.