As a sitting City Councilmember in my 4th year of service, I can say that my top priority issues for Prairie Village haven’t diverged much, if at all, from my top priorities when I ran in 2019. If anything, they’re just more educated and nuanced than they were then.
Healthy Housing Stock
2019: Prairie Village is a highly sought after community for current residents and prospective home buyers, and the last 8+ years of home renovations and complete teardown and rebuilds have highlighted that fact. While we need homes that fit our families and lifestyles of 2019, we also still need homes to fit all different sizes, styles, and budgets of families looking to live or remain in our city. The key will be finding the right balance. So, as your councilperson, one of my goals will be to maintain the diversity and attainability of our Prairie Village homes through city planning and neighborhood design standards, as well as continuation of Exterior Home Grants and Contain the Rain cost-share programs.
2023: These facts about, and needs for, our community are just as true in 2023 as they were in 2019, and probably even more so. In the ensuing years, I have continued working toward this diversity of housing stock, supporting additional resident grant programs and serving on the ad hoc housing committee from 2021-2022 leading to a vote of the city council to direct staff and the planning commission to research and vet several possible pathways to help us achieve this goal. In 2023, council further narrowed down those pathways to two items: updating the Neighborhood Design Guidelines and addressing short term rentals.
The Neighborhood Design Guidelines have always been in my sights for a refresh, as I view it as a “living document” that needs to keep growing and improving as PV grows. Short term rentals have become a benefit and a hindrance to many cities, and we’re just starting to see some issues in Prairie Village. I don’t hate the idea of short term rentals, but I do think we need reasonable ordinances and expectations for owners and renters before it gets out of hand. So both of these pathways align with my top 2 important issues to address our housing stock. I look forward to the council work sessions we’ll be having this year on this topic.
Proposed Community Center
2019: As a parent of an early-teen, I am very excited at the idea of a safe activity hub on the City of Prairie Village “campus” including Harmon Park, the Pool Complex, AND a new Johnson County Library Corinth Branch and a new YMCA/Community Center all in one large block with the Police Department. However, even I am not sold yet that Prairie Village residents want a City-partnered facility, or that we can afford the costs behind acquisition, design, and construction, as well as maintenance in the long term. As your councilperson, I want to make sure this is the right project at the right time, and I will advocate for a transparent Community Center study process to ensure residents are engaged and heard before final decisions are made and voted on.
2023: Well, time flies when kids are involved, and now my daughter is frighteningly close to flying the nest and leaving Prairie Village for a college campus outside our metro area. However, while my family may not find the “safe activity hub” I described above in 2019 as beneficial, I know that what’s best for our community isn’t about just me, and I still recognize that there are many more young and new families in Prairie Village who do desire this amenity and who will benefit from it. Since 2019, I served on the ad hoc civic center committee resulting in a re-survey of the market area and PV residents which resulted in a show of continued support for a community center on the civic center campus and very high support for a possible partnership with the Y. Additionally, the Johnson County Library is still very excited about a new and operationally efficient Corinth branch on the civic center campus. By the end of this calendar year, the City will have Memorandums of Understanding with both the Y and the Library system and be moving through the next step of this exploratory process. The further along in the process we get, the closer to a realistic cost of what a community center may be. However, if at any time we reach a stage where we believe the center is no longer feasible, this MOU and each subsequent MOU will have off-ramps so that we can end the process.
I’m still very excited by the prospect of this opportunity for our community. I see it as a gathering place and hub of activity right in the center of our city encouraging health and activity, and integrated right into all of our fabulous city events and services, like JazzFest, VillageFest, community meeting rooms for local knitters and book clubs, and also the City Hall Art Gallery. The possibilities are endless!
Taxes & City Budget
2019: Property values have risen sharply the last few years, and I want to learn more from our City staff about our options for our property tax rates and how, moving forward, we can be the best stewards to our citizens and our city properties whether that’s lowering the current tax rate, investing the additional revenue in city projects, or a combination of both. What will bring us the most return on investment down the line? I will support fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers by annually evaluating our Mill Levy rate in relation to property values and long term city planning.
2023: For the first three years of my term, I was lucky enough to serve on the Finance Committee doing exactly what I set out to do for the residents of Ward 3: learning about the City’s income/expenses and the annual budget process, reviewing long term capital improvement plans and proposed new expenditures/programs, and finding the most responsible options for Prairie Village. In my first year, I recommended a small mill levy reduction. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the votes. However, in 2022 the whole finance committee recommended a mill levy reduction, and it was approved by the full council. Additionally I’ve gained a lot of confidence in our city’s fiscal responsibility, and especially in our staff. Any big ticket item expenditures are heavily weighed against existing debt, borrowing power, our coveted AAA bond rating, the economy, the overall annual budget, and the desire of, and value to, the community. A large project like the new Public Works building is built with the utmost thought, risk-assessment, and pre-planning, and future possible projects (like an upgraded city hall or a new community center) will be treated with the same caution.
While the Public Works and the City Hall buildings were/are necessary upgrades for running the city that don’t involve a public vote, something like a proposed community center WOULD likely go to a vote of the residents of Prairie Village, so that each voter can vote in favor or against it at the end of the day.
Safety & Community
2019: We moved to Prairie Village for its charm and small, locally-owned centers of activity. Our Shops have lost long-time business owners recently, and I want to do what we can as a Council to stem that loss and encourage more new entrepreneurs to open their doors in our community. It’s also important that we ensure Prairie Village remains an environment where our teenagers that crave and deserve the freedom to explore their neighborhoods can feel comfortable and safe walking to and from our parks, school and Village Shops.
2023: Surprisingly, despite the pandemic, Prairie Village has seen a lot of investment by locally-owned businesses and franchises to, not completely but somewhat, backfill some of the businesses we had here in the past. The owners of Cafe Provence have continued to invest in Prairie Village, expanding the French Market yet again, and opening Verbena at Meadowbrook Park. The Little House moved to PV Shops from another city in the metro. Summersalt picked up the summer ice cream baton from Mely’s when she retired, and Taco Republic replaced national chain Arby’s in Corinth Square. Wichita-based Meddy’s opened their first KC metro restaurant in Corinth South. The list goes on, but these are just a few of my favorites. In short, Prairie Village still feels like a destination for shoppers, diners, and residents. On top of the great draws we have in our commerce centers and parks, we are also a pretty safe place to be and let your kids explore. Our most prolific crimes seem to be home burglaries and car thefts, and PVPD has a year-round campaign to help residents remember to close their garage doors and lock their cars, etc.. I’m certain we still have room to improve on these statistics and also on being a welcoming and safe place for residents and visitors from all walks of life. I also know that our PVPD staff and city administrative staff continue to learn and train every day on how to improve their departments and our community in that way, and I’m here to support, and learn and grow along, with them.
2019: Walking the streets and sidewalks of Prairie Village with our dogs over these last 11 years, we’ve seen a lot of age and deterioration. I plan to work with Public Works to understand the prioritization and timeline for repairs. To advocate for a faster timeline and find a way to fund the repair and replacement of many of our worst curbs and sidewalks to make them safer and more inviting to strollers, tricycles, runners, seniors, and more. Creating more desirable walking areas encourages walking to improve personal health, reduces our environmental footprint, and leads to a more socially active community… all desired outcomes of the PV Bike-Ped Plan which I look forward to helping shape and seeing through to completion.
2023: Ah, out of the mouths of babes… How little I knew in 2019 about the extremely detailed, long-term, and expensive “Residential Paving (& Sidewalk) Program”. However, with the dogged determination of the amazing Public Works staff, long-term planning, and some additional streets funding here and there, for the first time in a long time, we can say we currently have ZERO “arterial” streets in the “Poor”-condition category. We also have only 7% of our “collector” and “residential” streets combined in the poor-condition category with a total of 80% in the Good to Excellent category. And to be fair, a Prairie Village-defined “Poor”-condition, as on 71st Street between Belinder and Cherokee, isn’t actually that bad. The only other poor-condition street in Ward 3 is Booth between 73rd and 75th Streets. 71st Street is slated to be repaired and receive a mill overlay in 2023, with Booth soon to follow after.
All-in-all, through better funding and planning in PV, what used to take 7 years to get a street in fair/poor condition back up to excellent, now only takes 2-3 years! And I can’t take credit for that. This process has been steadily improving for years with the staff we have at the helm, and all we need is a good, supportive council to keep encouraging this kind of hard work and ingenuity.
Proactive Two-Way Communication
2019: Elected representatives should be punctual to meetings and actively engaged in conversations on all issues brought before Council. Proactive communication is crucial, because it not only keeps citizens aware of what’s happening in the city, but it also keeps the door open for two-way communication and feedback. As I’ve been demonstrating for months already, I will update you at least twice a month with Council activities and City updates, post regularly on social media platforms, and be available to listen to your concerns and issues as well. So, let’s stay in touch!
2023: In the four years since launching this website and my campaign, I have published over 400 posts with council agendas, council recaps, alerts, Did You Knows, and more! I enjoy learning something new almost every week in our city, county, state, and region and sharing that with you, my neighbors. I’ve attended every meeting of the city council unless sick or on vacation (some while ON vacation), been to just as many committee meetings, whether as Chair, Vice-chair, or member, of the Arts Council, Finance, PV Foundation, and ad hoc committees. I’ve watched many of the planning commission meetings and diversity committee meetings when they were still recorded even though I’ve never been on those committees. I attended MARC’s First Suburbs Coalition meetings just because I was interested, participated in both the PVPD Citizens’ Academy and the Johnson County Citizens’ Academy, and was lucky enough to attend a National League of Cities conference pre-COVID (barely). All of these volunteer opportunities allowed me to learn more to bring back to PV and share with Council and with you, and I’ve done that through this website, my bi-weekly newsletters, social media, and voice-to-voice or face-to-face conversations. Pre-pandemic my ward co-councilmember and I hosted coffee chats at Starbucks once a month or so, and my new ward co-councilmember and I plan to start that back up again this year!
Through my newsletters, residents (from all wards) feel comfortable just hitting reply and asking me a question or thanking me for my service. I respond to every single email from Ward 3 residents, who I was elected by and to serve, and I hopefully answer their questions or solve their problem and create that two-way conversation that is so essential for a small community like ours.
I hope you’ll reach out if you haven’t before, or again just to say, “Hi!”. I also hope to earn your votes on August 1st and November 7th to continue serving you on the Council, and I look forward to our chat. 😊
P.S. If you’d like to support my campaign, please click the button below.