Character of Neighborhoods
Strong neighborhoods define Prairie Village’s charm and are a key pillar of our Village Vision. We must continue to balance evolving market demands with the need to preserve the unique and special character of our community. That’s why I championed and implemented the “Phase II” housing guidelines and created an Ad hoc Housing Committee to assess and recommend optimal housing policy adjustments to address affordability, diversity and to ensure the unique charm of Prairie Village stays in place for years to come. While I’ve been Mayor we’ve also implemented rules protecting our treasured tree canopy, restricting construction noise, and otherwise strengthened our neighborhoods.
Parks and Green Space
While we’ve always had some great parks in Prairie Village. I ran for City Council eight years ago in part because I thought we needed more. It was one of my greatest pleasures as Mayor to bring our efforts to fruition by opening two new parks: Meadowbrook and Wassmer, more than doubling our public green space. We also built a new state-of-the-art skate park, new playsets, tennis, and restrooms throughout our parks system. Our parks system has won national recognition and has positively transformed our City.
We are not only leading the region, we are leading the nation with our decarbonization and sustainability initiatives. On the Council and as Mayor, I supported development and implementation of a bike-ped plan for Prairie Village, adding sidewalks and bike paths to enhance our quality of life in Prairie Village and reduce our carbon footprint. We also built a new public works building to the highest level (LEED-Platinum pending) of environmental standards, one of the first such public works buildings in the country. Under my leadership we installed Prairie Village’s first electric vehicle charging stations, opened new parks, and are converting our city street lights to LED. We added solar to power a park and became the first Johnson County City to sign on to Evergy’s wind energy commitment for all City building energy. We are electrifying our City fleet with hybrids.
We started a city-wide carbon measurement program that will track Prairie Village’s carbon footprint so we can better understand our city’s impact on the environment and how to best implement new sustainable programs. We implemented a curbside food composting and glass recycling program and much more.
Thanks to our outstanding police, we are consistently ranked one of the safest cities in Kansas. We were able to give our police department a material increase to police funding and will support them in their mission to keep Prairie Village safe. Under my leadership we started our City’s first K-9 Unit. Our safety-minded Public Works department also deserves credit and support for keeping the safety of drivers, walkers, bikers and others top-of-mind with infrastructure and drainage improvements. We invested more than ever before in our roads and have moved our road ratings more into the good and excellent categories.
Our City improves when we proactively welcome and celebrate diversity, and engage all sectors of our citizenry for the common good. That's why I was happy to appoint the first African-American police chief in Johnson County city history and to host a joyful new Juneteenth City celebration in our city.
We also created the City Diversity Committee, tasked with making Prairie Village more welcoming to current and prospective diverse residents. We expanded our diversity, equity and inclusion training and advanced several other diversity initiatives. I look forward to continuing my close relationship with the committee in my second term.
I kept our city in outstanding fiscal shape during my time as Mayor. We’ve been able to maintain relatively low tax rates (no property tax rate increases) and ample surpluses thanks to rising property values and healthy economic activity. We’ve provided effective tax rate decreases for residents through new and expanded programs that provide cash rebates to qualified residents. Our city achieved (again) the highest possible, rare "triple-A" credit rating from Moody's. We recently re-funded our Meadowbrook bonds, saving taxpayers over $1.4 million.
Due to the strength of our fiscal position we were able to expand road rehabilitation and increase the overall quality of Prairie Village roads in a fiscally responsible manner. We also completed several major drainage improvements and a new state-of-the-art Public Works home base campus on time and on budget. We’ve beaten all of the annual budgets during my term. I will continue to make sure ongoing projects remain within budget and time frame.
Communication, Events and Transparency
We made many significant changes to engage the public more, communicate more, and make our City government more transparent than ever before. We re-vamped our website emphasizing user-friendliness and accessibility. We moved our City Code into an online, searchable format. We redid the Village Voice newsletter mailed six times a year with comprehensive information about City government. We live-streamed our City meetings. We enhanced our City social media. We saw record-breaking crowds at City events including JazzFest and the Mayor’s tree-lighting. We installed new public art and held arts events, innovating them as necessary through the pandemic.
Working closely with our local businesses, while I’ve been Mayor we’ve seen high levels of new business investment (hundreds of millions of dollars) into our Prairie Village commercial centers. Dozens of new businesses have opened. Corinth Quarter shopping center has opened. Major, fully-funded mixed-use redevelopment projects are underway in the Prairie Village Shops, Corinth Shops and Meadowbrook commercial areas.
Emergency Pandemic Management
I steadily and successfully led our city through the worst global pandemic of the century. We maintained seamless essential city services throughout, led the region with local preventive and mitigation measures, implemented unprecedented communication and public health campaigns, and re-invented City services and processes to protect residents and staff. Through coordinated teamwork within the City and region, we flattened curves, preserved business strength, and saved lives.
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