Fairway City Council candidates on the issues: Addressing climate change

Candidates vying for election to two seats on the Fairway city council discuss how the city of Fairway can prepare for the effects of climate change. File image.

In August, we asked our readers about the issues you wanted to hear the candidates running for Fairway City Council. Based on your feedback, we developed a three-item questionnaire touching on the most important issues to patrons of the district.

Each day this week, we will publish the candidates’ responses to one of three questions. Today, we are publishing candidates’ responses to the following question:

Climate change continues to be top of mind for many Shawnee Mission Post readers. What steps can Fairway take to prepare neighborhoods for increased flooding, along with extreme heat and drought events? What steps would you like to see the city take to build climate resilience?

Below are the answers the Post received from the candidates on this issue:

Ward 1

Kelly-Ann Buszek (incumbent)

Kelly-Ann Buszek headshot Since climate change obviously affects everyone, Fairway cannot insulate itself from extreme heat and drought events. What Fairway will do is continue to address the issues of infrastructure and sustainability with its ongoing and planned actions. For example, the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) will allow for the much-needed repair and/or replacement of the city’s aging sewer and storm water system. This action alone will likely mitigate some of the effects of local flooding. A permanent multi-jurisdictional solution for the perennial flooding along State Park Road remains a high priority and may take the form of raising the level of the roadway. Environmental sustainability issues include increased funding for planting new trees, replacing or treating diseased and damaged right-of-way (ROW) mature canopy (shade) trees throughout the city, and encouraging residents and businesses to engage in similar measures on their own properties. These cost-effective actions are known to mitigate some of the effects of extreme heat. Additional elements of proven and robust environmental sustainability measures include: encouraging residents to use rain barrels (increased conservation and reduced flooding); composting (e.g., as practiced at the Shawnee Indian Mission, thereby reducing landfill debris and heavy truck traffic); increased recycling; replacing select city cars at the end of their useful life with electric vehicles; and adding charging stations near City Hall.

Blake Allen Marshall

Blake Marshall headshotKeeping Fairway’s charm as the “City of Trees” is very important to me. One of the many reasons my wife and I chose Fairway as our home was its beautiful, natural landscape. I would work to preserve that landscape. I would work with the council to enhance climate resilience by first listening to our Residents. What can we do together as a community to limit our footprint while still enjoying our daily quality of life. Depending on the cost, I believe one tangible step the city could take would be to add glass recycling twice a month. As it pertains to flooding. Flooding is something we can all relate to as many of us have experienced it in some way due to our location. As a long-standing, complex challenge impacting our neighboring communities, too, it’s important to work together to address effective stormwater projects and available sources of funding while staying sensitive to the need of our residents to live well and be able to move freely to and from the metropolitan area.

Ward 3

David Watkins (incumbent)

David Watkins headshot While Fairway’s climate associated challenges relate primarily to severe storms, we need to be prepared to address other climate related issues. One critical program that we should continue and enhance is the maintenance of our urban forest, which will help us mitigate the impacts of flooding, heat and drought events. We also need to continue to work with our neighboring cities through the Johnson County stormwater management advisory council to address flooding along Rock Creek within Fairway, because the vast majority of the water that causes adverse flooding events within Fairway originates outside of Fairway. With the recent completion of our stormwater system evaluation, we now know that we need to repair and update our infrastructure to better accommodate large stormwater events, which will promote climate resilience. Finally, we should continue our current practices of planned tree maintenance and debris cleanup after major storm events, as that also promotes climate resilience for our residents.

Susan A. Leonard

Susan Leonard headshot

In the ‘City of Trees’, I have found my neighbors to be very environmentally conscious. I believe it is important that we add to any discussion of development, maintenance and improvement of our infrastructure, an emphasis on the impact on the environment these projects have. I would be in favor of required “environmental impact” measures added to the processes required to bid and approve projects.

As an educator, I also believe it is important to both model and explicitly teach our young residents the importance of taking care of our environment and so I would also like to continue to explore ways to help our residents be better stewards individually when it comes to waste disposal through curbside recycling and composting options and other such efforts.


Read these candidates’ responses to questions about add-on sales tax and apartment complexes