Last Tuesday was the Shawnee Mission Post Candidate Forum for Prairie Village, and I was a nervous wreck! However, I made it through, and I think that I even made sense! 🤣
There are so many topics of interest right now in Prairie Village, and not nearly enough time in a one-hour candidate forum to go over them all, but I came prepared to talk about every single one of them! For example, Breed Specific Legislation, Parks, Neighborhood Design Standards, Stormwater Management, TIFs, Affordable Housing, and more…
Here are some of the questions we did get to respond to, though, and my remarks paraphrased and expanded upon:
What makes you qualified to make decisions on behalf of Prairie Village residents, and how would you take into account the opinions of constituents who might disagree with you?
As a designer and consultant for the last 20 years, my whole job has been to LISTEN to the challenges and goals of organizations and help them design solutions to address those issues. Not only will my experience be helpful on Council as we invest in future development and sustainable building opportunities, but it will also be integral to my role as your representative of Ward 3 to LISTEN to your concerns, challenges, and questions and help you RESOLVE those issues or connect you to the appropriate resource. Every proposal or vote that I make while on Council will be informed by listening to Ward 3 resident input.
Unfortunately, it’s true that we can’t make 100% of people happy 100% of the time. I’m no stranger to this adage, and I have ample experience working on community boards, professional organizations, on the job, with 2nd-grade Girl Scouts, and with PTA parents, talking with people when we disagree, listening closely, and finding out where we can agree.
My experience in these situations has taught me that most problems could have been avoided with proactive communication. People just want to know what’s going on in their world, and most people don’t like to be surprised. Communication is a key tenet of who I am as a volunteer and as a professional.
I have a history of excellent communication and doing all I can to reach communities where THEY are. Even as “only a candidate”, I have maintained an active social media presence, and as I have recapped council meetings and researched issues affecting Prairie Village, I have shared the information with residents through various methods (my website, a weekly newsletter, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to make it easy for YOU. I will continue this level of communication throughout my term as your Ward 3 council woman, and I will do my best to make sure that you’re never surprised by something that would adversely affect you or your family.
You don’t file for elected office without knowing you’re going to have situations where residents are unhappy, and I am fully prepared to represent Ward 3 to help our residents.
The council recently heard preliminary plans for a new public works facility, including early details about the costs that could be associated with achieving LEED Platinum status, the highest level of energy efficiency certification. Estimates suggested that cost could amount to as much as $800,000* above baseline. Would you support that expense?
Absolutely. In September, I attended the Metro Kansas City Climate Action Summit along with leaders from across the Metro: city administrative staff, city council-members, higher education facilities representatives, corporate facilities managers, and experts from the architecture, design, and construction industry. Private, federal, and not-for-profit organizations around the world have been taking these steps for decades. Most of the information at the Summit was geared directly toward municipalities, because now is the time for city governments to take the reins, adopt sustainable construction policies in our cities, and to collaborate for solutions with the people who actually live in the city.
I have been working in the architecture, design, and construction industry for 20 years, and no project should be designed anymore that doesn’t incorporate sustainable practices. My clients over the years have recognized that there is a strong economic case to be made for sustainability. A case that, for Prairie Village, would directly impact our City employees’ job satisfaction, and therefore, 1/3 of our annual budget. Improved Productivity, Employee Attraction & Retention, and Employee Wellness are all metrics that improve simply by designing all spaces with access to daylight & views and using low-emitting materials.
Additionally, energy efficient design reduces the need for artificial lighting, heating, and cooling. Energy- and water-efficient fixtures, renewable power, and power storage systems ensure sustainable consumption of resources, and therefore reduced costs. These are already items that the City of Prairie Village Public Works team is considering for the new public works building.
Constructing buildings to be efficient for our environment is also an investment in our employees, and I fully support that. I would never design a building for a client without these features, so I would never expect City of Prairie Village employees to work in a new facility without them or the taxpayers of Prairie Village to foot the bill to maintain and operate them.
Specifically addressing LEED Platinum status, I support striving for this level of high performance building knowing that the end result may or may not get all the way to Platinum, but we do our best and get really close. LEED Gold is really good, too!
*USGBC of the Great Plains believes this estimate is high, and if the City leases the solar panel array instead of purchasing, it would be even lower.
Was keeping the property tax rate steady the right thing to do? Or should it have been lowered?
I would support the right targeted and significant tax relief proposal for our Prairie Village residents. The proposed reduction in May was a savings is $3.34 per month for the “average” household home appraisal; less for the 75% of Prairie Village homes under the average, bringing it into the $2.00 per month relief range. Whether to reduce or maintain the mill levy rate is obviously a tough decision. Finance committee members have each dedicated countless hours to understanding the budget, talking with staff and the city attorney, and numerous meetings, and EVEN THEY were split on this proposal.
But, I am up to the challenge. I look forward to being elected to Council and assigned to the Finance committee. My project management background within the design and construction industry has been all about building multi-million dollar budgets, value engineering, and meeting the final budget at the end of the project. So I plan to dig into the City’s budget, listen and learn from the current committee members and staff, ask lots of questions, talk more with Ward 3 residents, and then make an informed recommendation on how to provide targeted and significant tax relief to our City.
Should political party affiliations have any place in city government?
No. All of my Council votes and proposals will be non-partisan and based on my personal experience, research, and Ward 3 resident input.
If you have any questions that aren’t covered here or you just want to talk live and in person, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I look forward to talking with you.
Take care and reach out if you have any questions or concerns,