Mayor David Alvey has filed for re-election as mayor and CEO of Kansas City, Kansas – Wyandotte County.
Mayor Alvey filed on Thursday for election to a second term. In his first term, he emphasized improving neighborhoods in Wyandotte County.
“It has been my honor to serve my community as Mayor-CEO for these past three years. I have taken an honest, straightforward approach to the challenges we face, and have worked diligently to develop and implement strategies that will improve community services and relieve pressure on our property taxes,” Alvey said in a statement released by the campaign. “I remain committed to improving neighborhoods across all of our city and county so that we can retain and attract new housing developments and new businesses.”
A lifelong Wyandotte County resident whose family’s roots go back generations to his great-grandfather, John Gibbs, Alvey previously served eight years on the Board of Public Utilities, including a term as BPU president, and also previously served on the City Planning Commission.
He said in his filing statement that he would continue to work on a shared vision for the community, with a renewed focus on neighborhoods and municipal services.
“We have already made significant progress in these areas. As we improve and develop our neighborhoods and bring in new businesses, we will continue to broaden our tax base, improve services, and reduce taxes. Today, I am asking for the support of our residents so that together, we can continue to achieve our goals of fiscal sustainability and improved quality of life for everyone in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas,” he said in the statement.
The primary election will be Aug. 3, with the general election on Nov. 2. The filing deadline is in June.
When asked what was his biggest achievement in office, he said at this point it might be surviving COVID-19.
“I think that honestly, probably the way the county has handled COVID has really, frankly, been exceptional,” he said. “I’m very proud of our Public Health Department on the efforts they’ve put forward to inform the public about what the virus is and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
He mentioned specifically the county’s testing efforts, being transparent with information about COVID-19 with the hub on the UG website, trying to get as much information out to the public as possible, and the work of the Public Health Department.
Mayor Alvey has supported the Health Department and given it the freedom to do its work, which is not always the case in all of the metropolitan area’s counties. Wyandotte County has been recognized in the metropolitan area for the support it has given health officials to mitigate the spread of the virus, he said.
Economic development will be important in the future, according to the mayor.
In the past year Wyandotte County had more than $900 million in economic development projects announced, despite COVID-19, he said. He added he isn’t taking sole credit for them since many people worked on these projects. The $900 million in development projects shows the fundamentals for development in Wyandotte County remain strong, and it continues to attract new investment, he said.
Mayor Alvey said he wants to make sure economic development is benefiting everyone. Economic development broadens the tax base and creates new sources of revenue, helping the UG provide more and better service while taking the pressure off property taxes, he said. Broadening the tax base means more entities shoulder the tax burden.
Mayor Alvey also said the UG is working very hard to find ways to redevelop the inner core of the community. More than 4,000 properties are in the Land Bank, many of them vacant lots, and the UG is trying to find ways to bring redevelopment to those areas, he said.
Those properties are a big hole in the tax base and have been a burden on the UG a long time, he said. The UG needs to find a way to bring the properties back into production as new homes or businesses to broaden the tax base, he said. While it takes a long time to bring this into fruition, they are seeing some improvement in that area, he added.
Mayor Alvey said he has tried hard to bring the electorate into the conversation about taxation and development.
“Taxes provide the revenues, and provide the services that we deserve,” he said. “When we reduce taxes, we reduce our revenues and it’s got to come out of services.”
At the same time, if residents want to improve services, it requires more revenues, he said.
“We want it both ways, more services and lower taxes, but it’s not the way the world works,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to improve services and reduce the tax burden, and the only way is through economic development. That’s a long-term strategy. We are making progress at that.”
To be honest, in this pandemic year, the UG is in a really tough spot, he said. He and the commission have to make very strategic decisions about how they can use UG funding to generate additional growth, he said. It needs to be the type of strategic growth that will in the long term produce more revenue and broaden the tax base, he said.
“We can be overwhelmed by the challenge, but that won’t get us anywhere,” Mayor Alvey said. “We need to just see it for what it is and be very judicious in our decisions.”