Citizens for a Better Shawnee evaluated each of the candidates and has endorsed several. Our endorsements are named in bold text. Below, we provide our reasoning behind our decisions in each case. You are also encouraged to review the candidate answers yourself by clicking here. You can also click on the candidate names to view their website.
Mayor – Michelle Distler
Michelle has a proven record of support for fiscal responsibility, public safety, and sound infrastructure. Easily accessible to residents and responsive to questions and concerns.
We give credit to Stephanie Meyer for completing our questionnaire.
Our reasons for not endorsing Stephanie Meyer center around the fact she was a leading proponent of the Community Center tax proposal from the beginning. Ms. Meyer chose not to respond to our general election questions. She also continues to pound the drum in support of a community center, despite the proposal being defeated by 72% of voters in May. Source link: Kansas City Star - September 9, 2019
Ward 1 – Tammy Thomas
Tammy offered thorough and well thought out responses to our questions. We especially liked her answers to questions 2, 3, 6, and 8.
-Question 2 – Stresses the importance of public safety and infrastructure.
-Question 3 – Most notable part of this answer is her quote on taxes; “Government seems to forget where the money comes from. In many cases, what seems to be just a little additional tax to some is make or brake(sic) difference for others. ” The same answer also notes that Shawnee’s existing parks and trails are exceptional and she wants to see Shawnee be a good business partner.
-Question 6 – Stresses transparency in decision making and calls for questions to not be deceptive. “The vote NO group did what our City Council SHOULD have done……..be honest and transparent about what the proposal is.”
-Question 8 – Calls for more scrutiny of incentives. “If Government cannot articulate a compelling interest, the Government should not be involved.” “Incentives need a fresh look and not an automatic stamp of approval.”
-Incumbent Jim Neighbor did not respond to our questionnaire. Mr. Neighbor has consistently been a voice calling for the city to expand its business tax base, yet in his nearly 10 years on the council, he has not offered any well thought out ideas for how to make that happen.
Ward 2 – Eric Jenkins
Eric has a history of strong support for the core city services he references in his answer to question 2 and has proposed methods for dealing with existing infrastructure issues, which were largely ignored by the majority of the current council
We also like his answers to questions 3, 4, 5, and 6.
-Question 3 – Advocacy for constituents, quality service at the lowest cost, quality city staff
-Question 4 – “I do not think city government should be involved in regulating or promoting social issues.”
-Question 5 – Vocal and consistent opposition to the proposed property tax increase for the community center. Worked in helping to create the Vote No group.
-Question 6 – Calls for the resident surveys to be improved and not generate predictable outcomes which tend to support a project or program city staff and/or “certain city councilmembers desire.”
-Andy Rondon did not respond to our questionnaire, while his website mentions accessibility and responsiveness to residents. Not much is known about his stance on the issues facing our city. His professional experience is in solar energy. His website, campaign materials, and during his door visits with residents of Ward 2 seem to all focus intently on a “climate crisis” and “sustainability.” He makes no mention of public safety or infrastructure on his website.
Ward 3 – 4 Year term – No endorsement
Kurt Knappen is our preferred candidate in this race. A few of Mr. Knappen's responses to our questions and his prior support of the failed community center, which our group fought to defeat, led him to fall short of our criteria for a full endorsement.
Mr. Knappen seems to display more fiscal responsibility than his opponent. His answers to our questionnaire also indicate that he understands and appreciates that tax dollars are public money.
-We give credit to Dawn Rattan for completing our questionnaire, but only after being offered a second opportunity. She did not respond to our questions during the primary cycle, stating, “I did not know if I would advance in the primary and now that I am a candidate in the general election, I am happy to complete the survey.”
We do like one specific aspect of Ms. Rattan’s answer to question 5. She recognizes that communication and execution of the proposed community center was not done correctly, stating; “We have to have longer lead times on major projects like this and make sure there is truly community buy-in before moving forward.”
Ward 3 – 2 Year term – Kevin Straub
Kevin is knowledgeable about city government from his past experience on the city council. He is honest (calls it like it is) and accessible. We also like Mr. Straub's answer to addendum question #3, where he stated; “The City tax revenue has been increasing for the past 20+ years. We need to know where the money is going, so we can better see where we can reduce spending.”
He also stated during the Shawnee Mission Post’s primary candidate forum and on social media that the city does not have a revenue problem, but does have a spending problem.
-We give credit to Lisa Larson-Bunnell for completing our questionnaire and the general election addendum.
Reasons for not endorsing Larson-Bunnell:
Supported the failed community center proposal
Uncertainty of opinions (especially on Q4)
Voting record/meeting comments don’t always match the statements she has made while campaigning, participating in the SM Post candidate forum and our questionnaire.
“Blind support for city staff” (see Q6)
Ward 4 – Kris Durbin
Kris has professional experience which we believe will enable him to have sound judgment and promote fiscal responsibility for city projects across the spectrum. Played an active role in the Vote No effort to defeat the community center proposal soundly.
We also like his answer to question #7 where he voices support for grassroots efforts to gauge citizen interest.
-Jill Chalfie did not respond to our questionnaire in the primary or the general. We do not know where she stands on the issues facing our city. Her website says she wants to connect with Shawnee residents, “encourage public input and community involvement from a diverse segment of citizens.”
Yet, she did not respond to our questionnaire, nor has she responded to messages sent by several residents asking for her stance on issues facing Ward 4 and the city as a whole. Her website does not make any mention of public safety or infrastructure, it does mention wanting to promote sustainability.