Archive for Election 2017

Witt says she’s running for mayor as ‘people’s candidate’

Janice Witt


by Mary Rupert

Janice (Grant) Witt, who filed recently for mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, said she is running as the people’s candidate.

Witt, who also ran for mayor in 2013, said, “Our politicians, our leadership, does not hear the voice of the people.”

She recently weighed in on the Indian Springs question before the Unified Government, and she believes the UG should have done a better job to get notice to the community residents about public meetings, seeking their input. She believes that if the UG sells Indian Springs for $750,000, when it paid about $8 million for it previously and invested more than $20 million in it, it is like a giveaway.

Her vision of Indian Springs is a place where people can come together, children can grow, the elderly can be nurtured, and a business center. She also mentioned a recreational activities center and a grocery store there. It shouldn’t be sold for less than it’s worth and it should be used to benefit the community, she said.

There will be a community meeting on Indian Springs at 4 p.m. today at the Neighborhood Resource Center at 49th and State Avenue, and another community meeting at 6 p.m. today at the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools’ Central Office near 59th and Parallel Parkway.

She said if she has to run every time there is an election to stand up for the people, she will continue to do that.

“If nothing else, somebody should stand up and say that you’re forgetting the people in the process,” Witt said. She added that several people have asked her to run.

A native of Kansas City, Kansas, who graduated from Washington High School and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the hospitality field, Witt has worked in the financial services and insurance field, and she is the CEO, a volunteer position, of the Reola Grant Center, a nonprofit organization that helps the needy.

Witt said she is against property tax increases, but she pointed out that the UG has already spent the money and needs to pay off debts that it has incurred in the past.

“The problem is if you spend beyond your means, you will never be able to control your means,” she said, adding that she has some doubts about various tax breaks the UG has given to businesses.

While leaders have promised lower property taxes, Witt said that some valuations have gone up while the tax rate went down slightly.

Among the problems the UG leaders can fix are customer service and the atmosphere of the community, she said. She also said getting a grocery store for the northeast area and in any area classified as a food desert would be one of her priorities.

Also important to her are adding community activities for youth and senior citizens, she said.

Witt has been very active in trying to feed the hungry in the community with a food pantry that she runs. She was very concerned several years ago when the funding was cut at the local level for Meals and Wheels, and she and volunteers started a program then that delivered meals to the homes of the elderly.

She also was a catalyst behind the starting of some Civitan Clubs in Wyandotte County, although she is not currently involved with it.

“I care about this county and the people in it,” Witt said.

Witt has a campaign page at https://www.facebook.com/HappyKCK2017, where there is more information about her positions on the issues.

Others running for mayor include incumbent Mayor Mark Holland, David Alvey and Keith Jordan. The primary election is in August and the general election is in November. The filing deadline is noon June 1.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@wyandottedaily.com.

Lower property taxes top list of priorities for Kane in 5th District, UG Commission

Mike Kane (File photo)


Fifth District Unified Government Commissioner Mike Kane is running for re-election.

Kane said lowering property taxes is his top priority. He said the UG has the money now to lower taxes, and in the past promised the funds from the payoff of the sales tax revenue bonds would be used on lower property taxes.

He has served three terms as the 5th District commissioner.

“We started this journey 12 years ago and we saw the need for growth out west,” Kane said. The 5th District has experienced much economic growth during his years in office.

Among his achievements in office, he said, are a new community center that opened in Piper, at the request of a Girl Scout troop; a cleanup of an old greenhouse and nursery property located on 82nd Street; and a new fire station in the 5th District that is expected to break ground at the end of summer.

With the fire station project already approved, the next goals on his list are to get a new grocery store in the 5th District and more curbs and sidewalks, he said. Already, there have been five grocery stores built in Wyandotte County during his years on the commission, he said.

Kane said he also would like to look into turning a former go-kart park at Wolcott and Hutton roads into a park with a soccer field and gazebo. Currently, there isn’t a park west of I-435 in his district.

“I want to continue to do a good job, and enjoy serving my community,” he said.

Kane, 60, is the public affairs director for Laborers 1290. He is the president of Tri-County Labor, serves on the executive board of the AFL-CIO state board, and also is on the Kansas Human Rights Commission, appointed in 2013.

He coached soccer for four years at Piper High School. Kane is a lifelong Kansas City, Kansas, resident, and he and his wife have two children.

“Wyandotte County is a good place to work, to visit, and it is equally important to make it a good place to live,” Kane said. “I think it is, and I think that is why my kids stayed here.”

Kane has opposition in the 2017 election from Sarah Kremer. The primary election is Aug. 1, and the general election is in November this year.

Bonner Springs voters to decide $39 million bond issue to address growth


by Mary Rupert

Voters in the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Public Schools district will decide on a $39.35 million bond issue in a mail ballot this spring.

Superintendent Dan Brungardt said the funds will be used for expanding and building onto existing school buildings, safety and security improvements, and getting students ready for college and careers. Architects looked at the needs of the buildings, and a planning committee developed a bond proposal that was approved by the school board in January. Brungardt added it will not increase property taxes.

If approved by the voters, this bond issue would fund remodeling on all the current school facilities, with the exception of Delaware Ridge Elementary, for increased capacity, he said.

“We’re a growing district in the metro area,” he said. Remodeling should add enough space in buildings for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on enrollment, he added.

During the past 20 years, there has been an average increase of 25 students most years, Brungardt said.

New housing is being built in the Bonner Springs district and is pushing growth, he added. A new single-family housing development, and new townhomes are being built.

In the Delaware Ridge Elementary attendance area, there are many townhomes, plus some single-family construction, he said. Delaware Ridge was the last bond issue the district proposed, around 10 years ago, and it passed.

Edwardsville has a new Village South development that may also attract more growth.

Currently, the Bonner Springs High School has a secure entryway, where students walk through the office he said. The district’s buildings would rearrange front entrances for security purposes under this bond issue. There also are plans to address parking and parent access to relieve access problems, he said.

The bond issue also would fund an upgrade aimed at helping students prepare for college and vocational programs, he said. Manufacturing, home repair, maintenance, business entrepreneurship, video tech production and health pathways are among the programs that would be offered.

The tech area was built in 1964, he said, and current plans call for an attached building to the high school for vocational students.

In addition, two new science classrooms are planned for the high school, and more classrooms are planned at the middle school to deal with increasing enrollment, he said.

“When I graduated it was K-12, now we’re looking at K-13, K-14, K-15,” he said. Students are graduating who already have some college credits earned while they were in high school, sometimes as much as 21 credit hours, he added.

“All schools are becoming more responsible, making sure students not only have the ability to go on, they have the access,” he said. “We have a pathway for nursing, a pathway for construction, business entrepreneurship, also a pathway for police officers.”

The district has a former police officer who is teaching and helps students map out a career in law enforcement, he said. The students on these career pathways get information, learn about the field and make a more informed decision before going into the field to work, he added.

Some high school students are graduating from high school with a certified nursing assistant certificate, and are working in that field to help pay for college, he added.

Brungardt said an important point in this bond issue is it will not make property taxes increase.

“This bond issue is a 0 percent tax increase on the mill levy,” he said. It takes the place of a former bond issue that has been paid off. Property taxes have been stable and flat in the Bonner Springs district over the past several years, he added.

Brungardt added that the bond issue is totally separate from school finance issues that are currently in the news. Bonds can be used only for school facilities, with the state paying 14 cents and the district providing 86 cents on the dollar. The school finance funds are for instruction and can’t be used for facilities.

For the past few years, the Bonner Springs district has received a block grant, the same amount of money it received two years ago. “But our enrollment has increased,” Brungardt said. When enrollment increases, there is a need for more teachers, and in effect, there is less money available, he added.

Legislators will work out the school finance details, and Brungardt said he hopes the district receives additional money for students in order to hire more teachers and keep classrooms at a good size. However, the school finance funds don’t affect the bond issue, and the funds from the bond issue can’t be used for instructional purposes, he added.

The ballot will be mailed to voters on April 12 and should be mailed back to the election office by April 26 in order to reach the election commission office by noon May 2, Brungardt said.

Brungardt has made several community appearances already and is scheduled to make a presentation to the UG Commission on the Bonner Springs school bond issue on April 6. Members of a “vote yes” committee have been going door-to-door to distribute information on the bond issue, he said.