Candidates run for Unified Government offices in general election Tuesday

Several contests, including Unified Government mayor and some commissioners, are on the ballot for Tuesday’s general election in Wyandotte County.

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Advance voting will take place from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 6, at the election office, 850 State Ave. For more information on voting , see http://wycovotes.org/where-do-i-vote/. Also see the website, http://www.wycovotes.org/, or voters may call the election office at 913-573-8500.

For past stories about the election, go to the Wyandotte Daily’s Election 17 pages, http://wyandottedaily.com/category/election-2017/.

The candidate forums on video will be shown on Monday afternoon, Nov. 6, starting at 1 p.m., on the KCKCC cable channel, Channel 17 on Spectrum and Channel 146 on Google TV. Also, the forums are available for viewing on the internet any time on the college’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/KCECable.

David Alvey, left, and Mayor Mark Holland prepared for a candidate forum on Oct. 17 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Mayor-CEO of the Unified Government

Incumbent Mayor Mark Holland and challenger David Alvey are running for mayor-CEO of the Unified Government.

Holland received about 40 percent of the vote to Alvey’s 31.6 percent in the primary election.

To view a story about the UG mayor’s contest, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/holland-alvey-spar-about-utility-rates-taxes-and-spending/.

To see a video of the candidate forum held Oct. 17 at KCKCC, and sponsored by Business West neighborhood business revitalization groups, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRVRWswzWME.

J.D. Rios, left, and Tom Burroughs are running for the Unified Government Commission, 2nd District at large. They were preparing for the candidate forum Oct. 17 at KCKCC. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Unified Government Commission, 2nd District at large

An open seat on the Unified Government Commission has attracted two candidates who have served in public office for years in other capacities, Tom Burroughs, a state representative, and J.D. Rios, a member of the Kansas City Kansas Community College board.

To view a story about the UG Commission, 2nd District at large contest, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/burroughs-rios-contend-for-ug-commission-2nd-district-at-large/.

To see a video of the candidate forum held Oct. 17 at KCKCC, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rKNn_TMBGs.

Candidates running for the 8th District, UG Commission, from left, are Incumbent Commissioner Jane Winkler Philbrook and Kendon McClaine. Candidates running for the 1st District are, third from left, Victor Harris, and right, Incumbent Commissioner Gayle Townsend. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Unified Government Commission, 1st District

Incumbent Commissioner Gayle Townsend and challenger Victor Harris are running for the 1st District, Unified Government Commission, in the Nov. 7 general election. There was no primary contest this year as only two candidates filed.

At a candidate forum Oct. 17, Townsend said her focus was the use of money and policy in an effort to promote a changing look and perception of the 1st District. She said she initiated budget requests to enhance the level of maintenance of the UG parks, brought new curbs and sidewalks to the Parkwood neighborhood, directed funds toward design and renovations of Garland Park, including walking trails, and brought improvements to the ballfield at Quindaro Park.

In addition, Townsend successfully sought to preserve funding for emergency home repairs for homeowners. She said she initiated a budget request to fund the first northeast master plan, which is currently in progress. She also advocated against crime following the murder of several young residents.

Townsend, an attorney with a federal agency, was elected in 2013. She is a graduate of Sumner High School with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law.

Harris, president of OCP Neighborhood Association, said at the forum that he has tried to get the UG to help clean up the area, but so far that has not been done. He said if he couldn’t get them to do it as the neighborhood association president, he would run for commissioner and get it done.

“The constituents in the 1st District feel they have not been respected, that there’s no hope there, that the leadership they thought they was going to have was not there,” Harris said.

Townsend said a new UG program is addressing blight, it is currently moving forward, and it will take time to work through the process.

Harris is one of the organizers of the annual Juneteenth event held at Big 11 Lake. Harris, who has worked in the security field, holds a high school degree and also ran for the 1st District in 2013, placing fourth in the primary election. He was previously elected to sergeant-at-arms of the Wyandotte County Democratic Committee and has served as a precinct committeeman.

Harris opposed a residential prisoner re-entry facility recently proposed for the Fairfax and northeast area because there were already a number of halfway houses in the northeast area. He recommended moving it to another location out of the area.

Townsend also did not support this proposed re-entry facility, saying it was very close to residential areas and was not in line with what was trying to be done with the northeast master plan.

To see a video of a candidate forum for the 1st District, with more discussion of issues, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOj5rszhgYE.

Unified Government Commission, 8th District

Incumbent Commissioner Jane Winkler Philbrook and Kendon McClaine are running for the 8th District, UG Commission.

Philbrook said her accomplishments included new curbs and sidewalks in areas, park improvements, working with Workforce Development, the Homeless Coalition for Greater Kansas City, supporting KCKCC and the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools in their efforts to help with social issues, the new Amazon project with 3,000 additional jobs including 1,000 jobs to Wyandotte County residents, working with small businesses and the State Avenue Corridor. The property tax was reduced 2 mills last year and 2 mills this year.

“I want to continue on with some of the projects I have worked on for you, especially with Workforce and the Homeless, and the businesses,” Philbrook said.

Philbrook, a third-generation optometrist, is a graduate of Washington High School, with a bachelor’s degree from Park University and a doctorate from the University of Missouri St. Louis School of Optometry. She was first elected in 2013. Philbrook previously worked for the Board of Public Utilities at the Quindaro Power Plant, and is a past president of the Kiwanis Kansas City West Club and a Leadership 2000 graduate.

McClaine said he is actively engaged in the community with the “I’m So Wyandotte” campaign, and he also has helped with giving backpacks to children, helping with job coaching and job training, feeding people at Central Park Towers when their air units were not working.

He said he has been in touch with 8th District families who lost four loved ones in five weeks, to try to figure out what could be done. Those are people issues, not policy issues, he said. McClaine said he wanted to work with the policies to make them work for the people.

McClaine, a graduate of Washington High School who has attended Kansas City Kansas Community College and the University of Kansas, has previously said he brings a mix of skills to the position, including board and financial experience, as well as community experience. He said he has worked in client services for a company that manages portfolios.

McClaine finished second in the August 2017 primary with 574 votes to Philbrook’s 1,064 votes. McLaine also ran for the 8th District Commission seat in 2013, placing fourth in the primary.

To see a video of a candidate forum for the 8th District, with more discussion of issues, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOj5rszhgYE.

Candidates running for the 7th District, Unified Government Commission, are from left, George Cooper and Incumbent Commissioner Jim Walters. Candidates running for the 5th District, Unified Government Commission, are, third from left, Sarah Kremer, and right, Incumbent Commissioner Mike Kane. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

Unified Government Commission, 5th District

Incumbent Commissioner Mike Kane and challenger Sarah Kremer are running for the 5th District, UG Commission.

Kane has served 12 years as UG commissioner, and said he would continue to work to make the district better. At the candidate forum Oct. 17, Kane said a location for a new fire station in the 5th District would be at Hutton and Leavenworth roads, with a park planned behind it.

“This is just a start of things to come,” Kane said.

Kane, a graduate of Bishop Ward High School, is the public affairs representative for the Construction and General Laborers Local Union 1290, AFL-CIO. He is retired from the United Auto Workers –GM after 35 years. He also is a past coach of junior varsity soccer at Piper High School, and also a former youth softball coach. He was appointed to the Kansas Human Rights Commission in 2013.

Kremer, a vice president of accounting for Belger Cartage Services, Kansas City, Mo., is originally from Iowa and has came to this area around 20 years ago. She received a bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University with an accounting emphasis, and is a certified public accountant and certified management accountant.

She said she would like to use her experience in accounting and finance, strategic thinking and budgeting to help the commission with the budget. She also said she would like to help the people in all areas of the 5th District, as well as the whole community.

“What I’ve learned in my current job in the corporate world translates to local government,” Kremer said. That includes areas such as investing in your organization, your community, and your employees, she added.

Kremer said the most important issue facing the community would be property taxes, and she supports decreasing the mill levy with the increased tax revenue coming in from the west side of the community. The community also needs to try to bring employees of some of the new development to live in Wyandotte County, and the county might consider tax abatements for three to five years for building new homes. She believes it would increase the tax base.

Kane said the UG lowered the mill levy by 2 mills this year, by 2 mills last year, and the goal is to lower it another 2 mills next year. Taxes, public safety, roads and parks are at the top of the list for residents’ concerns, he said.

Kane added he was trying to develop an area for a soccer field and park on the property from the former Thunderlake Speedway at 5501 Wolcott Drive. There are plans for a walking trail there, and discussions are underway for locating some ballfields there, he said. There currently isn’t a park located west of I-435 in northwestern Wyandotte County, he said.

In the primary election, Kane received 58.5 percent of the vote to Kremer’s 30.2 percent.

To see a video of a candidate forum for the 5h District, with more discussion of issues, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQo9MyYf3Zg.

Unified Government Commission, 7th District

Incumbent Commissioner Jim Walters and challenger George Cooper are running for the 5th District, UG Commission.

Walters said he has spent his life in development and is most interested in economic development in Wyandotte County.

Walters, of Bonner Springs, is a native of Kansas City, Kansas, who moved to Edwardsville at age 12, and settled in Bonner Springs after getting married. He is a graduate of Bonner Springs High School, and has bachelor’s degrees from the University of Kansas in environmental design and architecture. He is an architect who has designed large sports stadiums around the world, including the stadium for Sporting Kansas City.

Cooper, a Bonner Springs City Council member for eight years, said he grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, then moved west. He is retired from the Board of Public Utilities. He has served as an advocate for Bonner’s parks, and was instrumental in starting the Bonner Springs Community Garden. Cooper is a Navy veteran.

“We want a seat at the table,” Cooper said about Bonner Springs and Edwardsville. “We have been forgotten. We do not get back anything that we should from our tax dollars with Unified Government.”

The most important issues to residents, Cooper said, are taxes, infrastructure and roads.

“In District 7, we have roads that need fixed,” Cooper said. “I’d like to see more county tax dollars come back in with the city dollars there in the little towns to fix more roads.”

Walters said the issues are different in District 7 depending on where people live.

“Taxes are an issue, and that’s why I proposed at our last budget session an additional mill levy reduction beyond what the commission had already adopted, because I think our taxes should be cut,” Walters said. “I did not get enough support from the rest of the commissioners to do that, but that’s what I will continue to do in my second term.”

In some areas of the 7th District, roads and sewers are issues, he added. Walters said the Unified Government includes Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County. It does not include Bonner Springs and Edwardsville for city services, he added. Bonner Springs and Edwardsville are included in the UG for county services. Roads, sewers and infrastructure are clearly city responsibilities, he said.

In the primary, Walters received 46.6 percent of the vote to Cooper’s 27.9 percent.

To see a video of a candidate forum for the 7h District, with more discussion of issues, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQo9MyYf3Zg.

More stories on the election will follow.

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