Overland Park council candidates on the issues: City level action on climate change

Jay Senter - October 18, 2019 1:03 pm
Solar panels power some of the JCCC campus buildings in Overland Park, like this one on the rooftop deck of the Career and Technical Education Center. Photo credit: Susan McSpadden

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 Overland Park.

Today, we’re publishing 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? Why or why not?

Get Shawnee Mission Post’s latest headlines via email for FREE each weekday!

Get Shawnee Mission Post’s latest headlines via email for FREE each weekday!


City Council Ward 1

Holly Grummert

As one of the largest cities in Kansas, it’s our obligation to lead the region in finding solutions for our changing climate. I am encouraged by the implementation of a micro transit pilot program. It’s an important step in the direction of building a smart, connected transportation infrastructure. We also need to continue to explore ways to rely on sustainable energy alternatives, like solar, and capitalize on our nation-leading potential for wind energy production

Terry Happer-Scheier (incumbent)

I attended the Metro Climate Control conference last month that talked about this very subject. The city of Overland Park is taking proactive measures to increase our energy efficiency such as greener buildings in new construction as well as making older buildings more efficient. We have been doing this for many years now but are being more aggressive. We have a citizen’s environmental committee that is guiding us as well. The city’s tree board (which I have been a member of for 25 plus years) has been active planting city forests and guiding tree planting for new construction. So the answer is yes.

City Council Ward 2

Paul Lyons (incumbent)

I have been an active member of the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition and support its overall mission and goals. Much can be done in Overland Park to move the city towards less energy usage. Improved energy efficiency means lower emissions of greenhouse gases. In 2016, Overland Park hired an energy consultant to develop a plan to reduce energy usage throughout city buildings and infrastructure. Our capital budget includes millions of dollars to upgrade HVAC systems, install efficient LED lighting in our buildings, and upgrade city streetlights to new LED fixtures. Recently, the city council voted to participate in Evergy’s Renewables Direct program, which will save money and help Evergy increase the amount of renewable energy produced by the utility.

The city has an active Environmental Advisory Council, a committee of interested citizens, which recently gained city council approval for a pilot program that expands collection of recycled materials to multifamily housing in the city. They are exploring ideas with city staff to establish environmental standards for future new city buildings. Recommendations from the EAC are addressed by the Community Development committee where new proposed standards will eventually be debated by the full council.

I support establishing environmental standards for city buildings, which will continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions by city government. I also support adopting the 2018 International Building Code currently being evaluated by city staff and the development community. It includes enhanced environmental standards that are not presently in the city’s current building code. I’m optimistic all stakeholders will agree to incorporate more energy efficiency. This will lower operating costs of all new public and private buildings within the city.

Roger Tarbutton

Regardless of one’s belief concerning the cause and impact of climate change, it makes economic and environmental sense for Overland Park to practice energy conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent practicable. I therefore support the implementation of cost-effective programs such as the use of solar and wind power to generate electricity and the use of LEED technology when economically feasible for the construction and rehabilitation of city facilities. I also support conducting energy audits on city facilities in order to determine the most cost-effective ways of conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

City Council Ward 3

Tom Carignan

City governments are residents of our planet, just like everyone else and should work on becoming more energy efficient in its own operations as well as collaborating with regional organizations on this issue. Much like the question above, this issue is not solved by one person or entity – the City should play its part and be a good steward of our resources.

Stephan Glentzer

Climate change is real and it is here now. Every community needs to take steps to reduce the amount of Carbon it puts into the atmosphere. I have many ideas that the City an implement immediately to help with the environment to keep our planet healthy.

OP needs to encourage more residents to use electric cars if it works for their life. To facilitate this, we have to provide charging ports at as many locations throughout the City as possible. Increasing the routs on our Micro Transit within the City is another benefit to the planet. We should create routs that will allow individuals to ride mass transportation on the business corridors within the City. Helping to keep more cars of the roads.

I want to ban the use of Styrofoam containers in certain industries within the City. They would include fast food, convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and caterers. Replace the Styrofoam with single use recyclable cardboard. We will need to create ordinances that will also allow patrons who frequent restaurants to bring their own containers to take home food. This will be a benefit to the environment but also help with the cost of the establishments selling food.

I want to ban the use of single use plastics like straws, we can move to paper in this instance with no impact on the environment. I would like to see convenience stores, gas stations provide more opportunity for the patrons to have a recycle container on site. This is where many dispose of their refuse when they purchase more.

This is an environmental issue. We have developers removing trees at development sites. We need to ensure that the developer puts back the same amount of trees they remove. Trees are vital at reducing Carbon from the atmosphere, so if one is removed, then it is replanted. This would also apply to a developer if they are building a subdivision. If the lots are going to be a quarter acre, then that will require three trees to be planted.
If the lot is bigger then a quarter acre, but smaller then a half acre, then there will have to be four trees planted. If you de-forest, then you re-forest..

Development needs to ensure that they are keeping the water that falls on their property on their property. Creating water gardens to catch runoff is good for the environment, it promotes insect life which is important to pollinate the food that we eat. Creating catch basins on site will help with water retention and keep the trash out of our waterways.

Business need to do more to protect the environment. It can include moving to four day weeks, having more personnel work remotely to lower the use of energy consumption, and it will also reduce the trash created by the business. Everyone and every business has a stake in our future. Continuing to find new ideas and ways to make the planet more healthy is vital for our survival and future.

City Council Ward 4

Fred Spears (incumbent)

Yes, I do. It falls on everyone to address and positively impact climate change. In Overland Park, through my Public Works Committee, we are finishing a multiyear program replacing all residential streetlights with LED fixtures, will soon be starting a program to replace all thoroughfare streetlights with LED, and have been converting our traffic signals to LED. Although specific savings are difficult to predict, an additional benefit is it is anticipated that we will be saving several hundred thousand dollars a year by the switch to LED’s for our streetlights once completed and are already seeing significant savings. In addition, we are spending millions of dollars in many City owned buildings replacing our HVAC systems with more energy efficient systems and are replacing our building lighting systems with more efficient systems. We have started conversations with our codes department to implement the new 2018 International Building Codes. Further, our Environmental Action Committee is examining and making recommendations for future changes and improvements.

I believe we ahead of the curve through our use of coordinated traffic signals reducing backups at stops, utilizing roundabouts improving the flow of traffic and reducing delays; we participate in Operation Green Light with other metro cities to improve traffic flow to reduce emissions.

We are a Tree City USA through the extensive use of planting and requiring trees, our Legacy of Greenery process encourages residents and business owners to “green up” their properties and we are replacing dead trees with more durable species.

We are adding to our hybrid fleet when appropriate including looking at utilizing electric police vehicles. Several years ago, we had extensive conversations about the use of residential wind energy generation however that does not seem to be a practical solution at this point. Further, I have recently been in conversations with vendors about residential solar energy initiatives and how they can best be utilized.

While we have made and are making changes that will have a positive impact on the climate and greenhouse gasses, we are continuing to look at options that will have a positive impact.

Dan Osman

We can start by looking into ways to construct our buildings more efficiently. The 2018 International Green Construction Code is just one set of guidelines we could implement to ensure that what we build and operate results in better indoor environments and a lower impact on natural resources. It wouldn’t just be for the government of Overland Park, either. Developers that request incentives and the use of our tax dollars need to be held to stricter standards as well.

As new vehicles need to be purchased, Overland Park can and should prioritize alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles. We can work with the WaterOne board on energy and water saving targets. We can work with other municipalities on a better transportation network. We can expand our bike lane program and encourage the creation of a more walkable city.

No one fix will fix everything. But together, step by step, it will make a difference.

City Council Ward 5

Phil Bressler

Yes. Overland Park should take steps to both increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We can start by looking into ways to construct our buildings more efficiently. The 2018 International Green Construction Code is just one set of guidelines we could implement to ensure that what we build and operate results in better indoor environments and a lower impact on natural resources. It wouldn’t just be for the government of Overland Park, either. Developers that request incentives and the use of our tax dollars need to be held to stricter standards as well.

As new vehicles need to be purchased, Overland Park can and should prioritize alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles. We can work with the WaterOne board on energy and water saving targets. We can work with other municipalities on a better transportation network. We can expand our bike lane program and encourage the creation of a more walkable city.

No one fix will fix everything. But together, step by step, it will make a difference.

Faris Farassati (Incumbent)

Local governments have an important place at the table when it comes to combating climate change and green house gas emissions. We have seen cities uniting and defining their goals in this regards both in US and Europe independent of their federal governments. As a matter of fact, non-partisan nature of local governments (where applicable) should be a bonus towards looking at the climate issues from the lens of science and not politics!

In the first step the city needs to define achievable goals! The number one target is obviously city operations and infrastructure. We don’t need to look far for an example: Strategies implemented by KCMO government (based on a adopted plan) such as installing solar panels on government buildings, improving public transportation, providing incentive such as loans for commercial and residential energy efficiency improvements, promoting benchmarking energy consumption by commercial entities have all helped our neighbor to be very successful in reducing green house gas. I believe in Overland Park we are also moving that way, one good example is our efforts in installing LED City lights. We have a very dedicated staff and a committed citizen advisory panel on Environment. However, we should be more aggressive and targeted! First we need to study and determine our green house gas inventory and our realistic improvement goals on that basis for the next 10 years. This includes green house gas produced by OP operations. Then, a multifactorial ACTION & EDUCATION campaign can be deployed with partnership between city government and commercial and residential elements to reduce green house gases. Specific actions such as improving the city controlled infrastructure with energy efficient technologies, providing incentives to commercial and residential units for using such technologies, enhancing city connectivity and biking paths, cooperating with our school system in enriching their curriculum with information about climate change and finally updating our codes to demand higher environmental oriented standards, can form our short and long-term investments. Our academic centers, power and water companies and state and federal entities are all important partners in implementing such city-led effort. City social media should also act as a constant source of education about environment for the public.

Finally, recent local movements such as “Sunrise” that raise awareness and action towards solving the climate change dilemma deserve attention and support.

City Council Ward 6

Rick Collins (incumbent)

The city continuously seeks energy efficiency. It has added to its fleet of electric vehicles. Our public buildings incorporate electricity saving devices, such as LED lighting. The city is switching out old mercury vapor lighting in our street lights to LED. HVAC controls are being replaced with thermostats that regulate the timing of the system. The city is participating in the Green Light program to expeditiously move traffic along thoroughfares utilizing more systematic timing of our traffic signals to keep the traffic moving and cut down on carbon emissions. The city is working with Johnson County on a pilot program for microtransit – again attempting to lower carbon emissions. The city has approved more bike lanes and bike/hike travels to make our neighborhoods more walkable and more accessible to non vehicular traffic. These are but some of the measures taken by the city. The city is aware of its responsibility towards the climate.

Scott Hamblin


I believe that of course it is a good idea to coordinate with our neighbors and see what we can do. We obviously are not going to get GM to build us Overland Park vehicles like they do for some states or anything of that magnitude. However that does mean we can make a big difference in two way. I feel if the cities lead the way with their green plans we can make the public more conscience to the cause. I also beleive that a citizens council of experts to both focus on assisting the city but mainly educating the public and expressing how big a difference everyone could make. I beleive that would be a simply and effective way to start. Especially as our budget doesn’t allow us to a lot of the candidates desires nor much of FowardOP.

Never miss a story. Try full access today for just 99¢

You want to know what’s happening in Shawnee Mission. We make it easy. Sign up today for just 99¢ and get full access to all stories plus our premium email newsletters.

Subscribe for access to comments section