Affordable housing, the city budget and a citywide mask mandate were all topics of conversation at the Post’s general election forum for candidates vying Prairie Village City Council this November.
There are three contested city council races in Prairie Village this year, and all six candidates running in those contests participated Tuesday night.
And in Ward 5, retired business executive John Beeder and Gregory Shelton, a marketing and sales manager in the energy industry, are competing to replace outgoing Councilmember Dan Runion, who is also not running for reelection.
In addition to these three races, there are three city council candidates running unopposed: incumbent councilmembers Ron Nelson in Ward 2 and Terrence Gallagher in Ward 6, along with Lauren Wolf, who faces no opposition for the Ward 3 seat being vacated by Councilmember Tucker Poling.
The Post live streamed the candidate forum, which can be found in its entirety below.
Here are the questions candidates were asked, as well as corresponding time stamps:
Absent a countywide order, Prairie Village is one of only two Johnson County cities currently with its own citywide mask mandate. Roeland Park being the other one. Prairie Village currently requires masks be worn in most indoor settings accessible to the public, including retail shops and restaurants. Religious institutions are exempted. The order is set to expire at the end of this month. Do you support the city’s decision to impose its own mask mandate? Why or why not? [13:17]
With home prices rising, housing affordability has become a major issue in Johnson County, and there is possibly no place where this anxiety is more acute than in Prairie Village. A report earlier this year by the county appraiser’s office pegged Prairie Village as one of several hot spots in the county when it comes to rising home prices. The city reports home values, on average, rose 8% last year. Since 2000, the average price of a single-family home in Prairie Village has ballooned from $138,000 to $334,000. A newly formed housing affordability task force in Prairie Village will look at the issue in coming months. What do you want to see done to address this increasingly urgent challenge? [24:51]
A follow up to this housing question. Several readers have noted the ongoing trend of teardown rebuilds contributing to this explosion in housing prices. That is driven, in part, by corporate buyers coming in to raze older homes in order to put up newer, more expensive ones. Reader Susan Wolfe wants to know: would you support putting limits on corporate investment firms purchasing residential homes for the purposes of teardown-rebuilds? Why or why not? [36:09]
Prairie Village’s annual budget for 2021 tops $34 million. At least one reader notes that city spending has steadily increased over the past two decades even as Prairie Village’s population has declined slightly. In the late 1990s, the city’s budget was less than half of what it is today, while the city’s population was more than 1,000 residents. And that increase in spending has outpaced inflation. Do you think Prairie Village’s spending levels are appropriate, and do you think residents get a good “bang for their buck” on what the city spends on services? [43:57]
In a related follow-up question concerning the budget: What is one area you think could be cut? And one area towards which you think more money could be allocated? [53:50]
In January, the city council formally adopted Village Vision 2.0, it’s comprehensive plan that aims to guide city policy over the next 20 years. The plan includes five main policy goals: designing quality public spaces, supporting strong neighborhoods, enabling the growth of viable commercial centers, promoting environmental sustainability and enhancing the city’s productivity. What do you see as the city’s biggest priority or challenge in the coming decades and is that reflected in Village Vision 2.0? If not, what do you think needs to be added or emphasized more in this comprehensive plan? [1:02:20]