Westwood city council candidates on the issues: Leading the growth and changes to come

first_imgToday we feature the second question posed to candidates for Westwood city council. The four candidates are running for two at-large seats. Today’s question is:Please describe how you see the council’s role in managing or leading the growth and changes that are coming to Westwood.Jeff HarrisJeff HarrisThe council’s role in managing and leading the growth coming to Westwood includes establishing and following a framework for decision making, building and sustaining relationships, and communicating with citizens every step of the way.Westwood stands at a unique time. There are multiple properties with uncertain futures, including: Entercom (although its future may become more clear after the Shawnee Mission School District’s imminent vote to purchase), Westwood View Elementary School (whose site may shift based on the District’s vote and future plans), Joe D. Dennis Park (which is in need of modernization and perhaps expansion), the 5050 Rainbow property (former site of Westwood Christian Church and currently held for future consideration), and underutilized city property west of City Hall.Each of these properties are opportunities and will unfold at different times in different ways. Westwood’s citizens have no shortage of good ideas, but what appears to be lacking is a good framework for understanding priorities and making decisions accordingly. The chance to understand priorities is now: the city’s Master Plan is underway and should be complete this summer. I am privileged to serve on the Master Plan Steering Committee and encourage everyone to participate, let your voice be heard, and help set our future. Once the Master Plan is complete and the city’s vision set, the council should follow it as opportunities and decisions present themselves.As I mentioned yesterday, it is clear the current council and the Mayor have built and sustained a good partnership with the District. As Westwood grows and changes, the city must build and sustain similar relationships with other stakeholders. The Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department, Johnson County Consolidated Fire District No. 2, and the Johnson County Library have all expressed interest in a future presence in Westwood. There are likely future commercial and retail opportunities along our corridors, and opportunities to strengthen current professional and commercial organizations. The council has a role to build and sustain good working relationships with these and other stakeholders to ensure Westwood has a full range of growth and development options.And finally, as I have learned through dozens – if not hundreds – of conversations with citizens, it is clear some do not understand the council and Mayor’s reasoning for past decision and actions. It is vital the the council communicate with citizens every step of the way to share facts and information, options, and decisions.Jayme TebowJayme TebowOur primary duty is to be fiscally responsible, manage our city efficiently.  It’s also imperative that we follow and when necessary, interpret the city’s new master plan according to the wishes of residents.  Westwood is attractive to developers.  A good city council should act as guardians of our city and approach any development proposal with caution from a financial aspect and with respect to how it affects our city as a whole.Secondly, communication between city hall and residents needs much improvement.  We’re not good leaders if we fail to keep residents informed of the most important issues affecting our city.David WatersDavid WatersWestwood has a number of exciting opportunities ahead of it, and I am optimistic about our future. We are now home to the nationally-recognized University of Kansas Cancer Center. The 47th Street corridor continues to attract new investment, providing our residents with restaurants, services, and convenient amenities, all within walking distance. Woodside Village is under construction, bringing new residents, retail options, and club improvements to our city. The Shawnee Mission School District has cited this growth as a primary reason why Westwood View Elementary will remain not only strong, but likely improved and expanded and available to serve future generations of Westwood families.In leading this growth, members of the City Council must first be guided by the constituents we serve. We must listen to their hopes and concerns, and ensure our residents are not just an active part of the process, but the reason for the process. We must strive for a community where our residents say “We did this. We made this happen.” I commit to listening to all voices and perspectives, making myself available to hear yours, and helping residents feel a pride of ownership in our progress.To properly manage the growth and changes in Westwood, members of the City Council must also fully understand the City’s history, the interests and needs of all stakeholders, the procedures and methods by which progress is achieved, and how these parts work together. As a member of the Planning Commission and the 47th Street Redevelopment Committee, and as an attorney representing local cities, school districts, and private companies, I have the right experience necessary to lead the City through these changes.Finally, leadership on these issues requires the ability to forge relationships. I am visiting each home and knocking on the door of each resident in our community. I have established relationships with our other elected officials in the Kansas Legislature, the Shawnee Mission School District Board of Education, and the Board of County Commissioners. As a board member for the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, and an organizer of its annual Leadership Northeast program, I understand the needs of, and I am a leader in, our business community.Members of the City Council must lead with experience and the ability to see and understand the big picture. Above all, we must seek out and be guided by the needs and opinions of those who have elected us to represent them. I am committed to guiding the City in that way, and I ask for your support April 5.Margaret BowenMargaret BowenIf the SMSD approves purchase of the Entercom radio tower land, the council would work on many details to help deliver a new Westwood View elementary school. A strong partnership among the city council, the school system, and city staff can ensure delivery of a 21st century learning environment that will make Westwood more desirable than ever. The council should also facilitate resident feedback on the new school’s design.The council should plan ahead when it comes to big projects. For example Woodside Village, which would add 400 to 500 renters, may result in traffic congestion, as well as an uptick in crime. How will the city tackle these issues if they emerge? The council should discuss a funding mechanism for additional police hours before it votes on the developer’s proposed TIF reset for Phase II, the south parcel where an extra 244 apartments and retail space would be constructed.Lastly, the city will owe a balloon payment on the 5050 Rainbow church property in less than a year. Should the city buy it outright, sell it, or rent it? How is the council going to decide what to do with the church? It is key that residents have some input in this decision: The council could encourage the current comp plan update to draw concrete ideas from residents on this pressing issue.Tomorrow’s question: Since Westwood council members are elected at large, you would serve the entire population, not just a ward as in other cities. What is the role of a council member in constituent services?Monday’s question: Drawing families for Westwood Viewlast_img

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