All 10 candidates for Lee's Summit City Council's four seats in the April 5 election were on hand last night for the candidate forum hosted by the Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce. During the forum, moderator Carl Chinnery asked each of the candidates for their thoughts on a number of issues ranging from the Council's role in managing City Hall to suggested changes to the City Charter and how they can work with City's various economic development agencies.
The upcoming municipal election features three candidates in each of the first, third and fourth Council Districts. Craig Faith is running unopposed in District 2. He attended the forum offering opening and closing remarks, but did not participate in the
Q&A portion. In District 1, incumbent Rob Binney is running against Susan Coffman and Frank Tatro. In District 3, the candidates are Phyllis Edson, Todd Haynes and James Lloyd. In District 4, Amy Fox, Melissa Garris and Chris Moreno are vying for the open seat.
An early question posed to the candidates asked each to discuss the Council's role in managing City Hall and holding staff accountable to direction issued from the elected body. View the responses are below.
When pressed to point out the priority issues currently facing the City, many, beginning with Coffman, pointed to stormwater and other infrastructure issues. On his turn, Binney offered that stormwater wasn't the only infrastructure issue on the City's radar saying "we have some major transportation issues on the horizon." Tatro quickly focused on local taxes, saying "they need to be lowered for each and every citizen of Lee's Summit." Haynes said business development topped his list, saying while he was excited about current projects, the City is poised for more. In response to Tatro's focus on taxes, Haynes responded with an implication that additional taxes may be necessary to address some of issues facing the City. In District 4, all three mentioned stormwater issues. "Stormwater's not pretty," Fox said. "It's not flashy, but taking care of this problem is essential to our community." Both Garris and Moreno also spoke to the City's emergency services, saying the Council needed to insure the highest and best services were provided to the still growing population.
All candidates seemed in agreement on the need for more cultural arts programs and space in the downtown district. While each praised the growth and activity currently in downtown, some also expressed a desire to make sure the area remained a family friendly destination as well. These discussions came during a series of questions concerning working with the City's various economic development agencies (Downtown Lee's Summit Main Street, Lee's Summit Economic Development Council and the Chamber) and how they would like to see funds from the Community Improvement District special tax used in downtown.
The 2016 municipal election is set for Tuesday, April 5.