Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error. The only contested race for Merriam City Council is Ward 2, not Ward 3.
Last month, we asked our readers to tell us what you want candidates running for local office talking about ahead of the Nov. 7 election.
We received dozens of responses, some directed at particular races and many more broadly asking questions of all or most candidates.
Two major topics emerged again and again: property taxes and housing.
You’ll see that in some form or fashion, we’ll be asking nearly all candidates — especially those running for mayor and city council — versions of questions about those two much-discussed issues.
Below are the questions we’re asking candidates running in one contested race in Ward 2 for Merriam City Council.
We will publish the candidates’ responses to these questions the week of Oct. 23, just ahead of early voting, so you can make as informed a decision as possible about which candidates most represent your views and priorities.
Merriam City Council questions:
- Property taxes: One of the most discussed issues among Johnson County homeowners right now is property taxes. With rising property values, many cities are seeing their annual revenues go up even if they hold their municipal mill levy — or property tax — rates flat or decrease them. Merriam will cut its mill rate slightly in 2024. Should the city consider cutting its mill rate even more in the future? If yes, what would you cut from the budget to account for any lost revenue? If not, are there other forms of tax relief the city can provide?
- “Missing middle” housing: Housing affordability remains a hot topic among readers. Many older residents on fixed incomes feel like they can’t sell their homes and afford to stay in Johnson County, while many young, first-time home buyers can’t compete in this market with such tight, expensive inventory. Some of our readers say they want to see more affordable options come on the market, including so-called “missing middle” housing, like duplexes, townhomes and small starter homes. Do you think Merriam should do more to encourage “missing middle” development? Why or why not?
- Downtown plan: The city is moving forward with a plan to make a stretch of Merriam Drive downtown more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Some early concepts received pushback from some downtown business owners, but the city council earlier this year settled on a compromise plan that keeps parking along the west side of Merriam Drive but also addresses issues regarding pedestrian safety. Do you support the downtown Merriam plan? Why or why not?
- Turkey Creek flooding: Merriam is currently helping conduct a survey of the Turkey Creek floodplain near downtown, a preliminary step towards designing and building some solution with federal funds to help protect the city’s central business district from flooding. What should be the city’s role going forward in assuring downtown Merriam’s flooding issues finally get resolved?
- 5701 Merriam Drive site: Earlier this year, Merriam relaunched its efforts to reimagine the site of the former Irene B. French Community Center on Merriam Drive. A special task force is looking at a possible amphitheater concept for the now-open green space there, and work on some future project could begin as soon as next year. What are your hopes for the 5701 Merriam Drive site?