The future of Old Town, attainable housing options and Lenexa’s relatively high mill levy compared to other cities in Johnson Count, were among the variety of topics covered Thursday evening at a Post forum for candidates vying for two contested seats on the Lenexa City Council.
In Ward 3, incumbent Councilmember Corey Hunt is defending his position against Melanie Arroyo.
Meanwhile, in Ward 4, contenders Craig Denny and Scott Callaway are competing for the seat being vacated by outgoing Councilmember Mandy Stuke.
In addition, there are two uncontested city council races in Lenexa. Incumbent councilmembers Joe Karlin of Ward 1 and Bill Nicks of Ward 2 are both the lone candidates on the ballot in their respective wards.
The Post live streamed Tuesday’s forum on its Facebook page, and the entire video can be found in the embedded link below.
Here are the questions and the corresponding time stamps so readers can find answers to them quickly:
In your view, what is your ward’s strongest asset, and how would you [continue to] try to leverage that if elected? [8:37]
- What is the greatest challenge you think the city of Lenexa faces over the next four years, and how might that impact your ward? [14:15]
- In line with current guidance from the county, Lenexa at this time is strongly recommending … but not requiring … masks be worn indoors. Some Johnson County cities, Prairie Village and Roeland Park, have mandated masks in most public indoor settings amid spread of the Delta variant. Assess how the city has responded to the pandemic over the past year and a half: do you agree with the city’s approach? Is there anything that you would want to see changed or advocate to be changed if elected? [21:19]
Post readers in Lenexa and elsewhere continue to voice concerns about the effects of climate change on life here in Johnson County. Our readers point to some of the torrential rains we’ve had this summer … upwards of five to six inches in a few hours on some occasions …. which put stress on the local flood control systems. Does the city have a role in building up resilience to climate change, in your opinion? What, if any, policies will you support on the city council that will better prepare Lenexa for our changing climate? [25:47]
Property values have increased sharply across Johnson County in recent years, making many of our readers nervous about the burden of property taxes on their incomes. In Lenexa, the city’s mill levy … which stands at 29.242 … is higher than most other cities in northeast Johnson County. At the same time, Lenexa assesses a 1% sales tax for city operations and a three-eighth cent sales tax specifically for street maintenance and maintaining parks and rec facilities. Assess Lenexa’s “bang for its buck,” as it were for taxpayers in these challenging economic times of the pandemic. Do you think the city’s current tax rates are appropriate for what residents see in return in terms of city services? Would you support raising or lowering taxes in the future if elected? [33:36]
- With the departure of Old Town Hair & Nail and a change of ownership along the corner block at Santa Fe Trail and Pflumm, Old Town is going through some significant changes. This is an area of town that is very special to a lot of people and, of course, historic, and affects both of your wards. What do you hope to see for Old Town Lenexa? [41:27]
Like other growing parts of Johnson County, Lenexa has seen some homeowners push back against proposals for new residential projects, particularly multi-family developments and apartments. How should the city reconcile the desire for the continued development of parts of Lenexa, especially in the western part of the city, with that opposition from residents to higher-density multi-family projects? Are multi-family projects necessary for the health of a growing Lenexa? Should the city prioritize attainable housing stock? [50:04]
- The City Center development has been widely hailed as a success and one that couldn’t have materialized without the commitment of the city’s governing body over the course of two decades. Is there a similar long-term initiative that you would like to see the city start working on in the next four years, if you are elected? [57:30]