November 22, 2021
I am running for Mayor for Parkville because I want to work with my neighbors and fellow Parkvillians to keep our charming, attractive, small-town-in-the-big-city community the unique place it has grown into. This is why my wife Marcia and I moved here and what we want to maintain and enhance. Development is important, but keeping and building on the attributes that attracted all of us to Parkville has to be our number one objective. A big part of Parkville’s small town charm is its neighborliness and how we work together to make this the best possible community for our families and neighbors.
But I am also running for Mayor because I believe I bring both a wealth of experience and an approach to managing meetings that will benefit the community. Parkville has a weak-mayor form of government, only having a vote when there is a tie. So to be an effective mayor you have to do three things well:
- Work with the Board of Aldermen to make sure there is a clearly understood consensus around city policies and the actions they want the staff to take. I have extensive experience and skills in building consensus and understanding the desires of the group. I have also worked with elected officials most of my adult life.
- Work with the city administrator to make sure he/she understands the priorities of the Board of Aldermen and the community and then help them, and the staff, implement those priorities. Also work with the city administrator to understand issues facing the city and bring these issues back to the Board of Aldermen. I have worked extensively with city administrators and city staff to help them address key issues they were facing.
- Finally, the mayor manages the Board of Aldermen meetings making sure that all points of view are heard and considered, including those of the public, and that consensus is reached. I have extensive experience in managing public meetings, including 12 years as chair of the Parkville Planning Commission.
Following are key principles that will guide my work as Mayor for Parkville:
- Openness is essential. This means all actions should be transparent and done with the full knowledge of the public. The rationale for decisions should be clearly explained. You will probably not agree with every decision city leaders make, but I will make it clear what my position is and the thinking behind it. (See first item below)
- Meaningful public input is critical. That means getting input from the public early in the process–especially from those directly impacted by a decision. When a decision is made, the rationale should be clear. (See first item below)
- Communication between the city and our residents is critical. That means ongoing communication with the public through the city’s newsletter, the online Pulse, social media, the city’s web site, and news organizations as well as through face-to-face meetings. The city also needs to provide additional avenues to hear what community members are thinking. (See first item below)
- The city must be responsive to residents and businesses. That means answering inquiries in a timely fashion with appropriate explanation and information as well as explaining the thought process that led to each decision.
- Quality services for residents are why city government exists. Our primary responsibility is to provide high quality basic services to its residents; police, maintaining roads, parks, sewer, and a host of additional services.
- The budget should support the city’s priorities. The city has limited resources (your taxes most importantly) and therefore the city must carefully match the city’s needs with available resources.
- Solution-focused, flexible and innovative should be how we work. The mayor and aldermen are elected to get things done and solve problems that arise; that often means being innovative in approaching issues with new ideas. I expect the staff to follow this approach as well.
- Keep long-term sustainability and resiliency in mind as we make decisions. This means both environmental and financial sustainability and resiliency. Take into account the impacts tomorrow of decisions we make today. Build a city our children will want to live in.
- The city should put its emphasis on establishing a vision that is reflective of what the residents want Parkville to be, then planning the necessary steps to accomplish that vision, and finally implementing those steps. Parkville has a set of documents that articulate its vision including the recently adopted Master Plan, the 2016 Park Plan, and an annual set of strategic goals adopted by the Board of Alderman. These plans usually have a set of implementing steps. We must continuously check in with the public on renewing and validating our vision, clearly identify the implementing steps the city will prioritize and then implement those steps.
Following are some specific issues that I believe are important for the city and my position on each of them. This list will evolve throughout the campaign as I meet with residents and discuss their hopes and concerns for the city.
- Adopt specific programs to make Parkville city government more open and transparent. All of the candidates say they are for a transparent government. Now is the time to adopt specific programs to assure that the city is transparent and that builds trust in our government. Here are a few possibilities I would support:
- City meetings are already open to the public, but most boards and committee meetings are not live streamed or recorded. Most meetings should be recorded and live streamed, subject, however, to assuring that personnel matters are protected and open conversation and exchange of ideas is protected.
- Initiate a citizen’s academy, a chance for citizens to learn how their city operates and the issues and constraints it faces. Many cities operate such academies, which have been quite successful and help citizens understand how cities operate. Such an academy would be a great learning experience for residents who would like to get more involved in their community.
- Probably the most important thing the Mayor and Board of Aldermen does is to adopt an annual budget. Consideration of the budget is a public process, but there needs to be a more accessible and understandable way for citizens to have input in the process. This was clearly the problem that occurred with regard to funding ball fields in Platte Landing Park.
- Conduct periodic citizen satisfaction surveys to find out how our residents feel about the city services.
- Conduct annual public meetings in each ward where residents have a chance to discuss concerns a what priorities the city should be focusing on.
- If you have other ideas please let me know (DeanKforMayor@gmail.com)
- Continue to work to implement the Highway 9 plan. The work underway now on Highway 9 is a good start and shows how this important artery in the city can be transformed to not only better accommodate auto traffic, but also enhance pedestrian and bicycle use. Completing additional sections will involve working with the State and the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) to prioritize Highway 9. The new federal infrastructure bill will provide new possibilities, but the city government must take active steps to take advantage of those opportunities.
- Parkville is a city of charm. Parkville is a city of parks. Parkville is also a city of neighborhoods. It has become clear to me as I have met with folks from all over the city that people love their neighborhoods every bit as much as they love Parkville. And while they are generally complementary of the local government, they all have issues that they feel the city has not adequately addressed. It might be street lights, neighborhood traffic, repaving streets or a host of other issues. I think the city could do a better job of proactively reaching out to its neighborhoods. So one of the first things I will do if I become Mayor is arrange to meet with every neighborhood and HOA, primarily to listen to see what your community’s need and how the city can work with each neighborhood to meet those needs. I would hope to bring along city staff and the Aldermen from your ward. Love to hear your thoughts if this is a good idea. Here are some specific neighborhood issues:
- The South National Drive area has been an ongoing issue for residents because of the volume and speed of traffic. It’s time to figure out some strategies to address these issues.
- There is a similar issue on Thousand Oaks Dr, plus an issue of no street lights.
- River Hills would like to know how the street resurfacing schedule is determined and when they will be on the calendar.
- Pinecrest and Melody Lane would like to discuss how the city can help insulate them from encroaching commercial development.
- Parkville needs to take steps to become a community for all ages. For a number of years now MARC has sponsored a program called Communities for All Ages. It focuses on how cities can look at their community services and infrastructure through an age-friendly lens and make sure that we are addressing the needs for all age groups, especially older adults. Parkville has taken the first steps, but now it is time to get down to specific actions.
- How to implement the Parks Plan and wisely use the Park Sales Tax funds has become an important issue. The most immediate controversy is whether the city should spend up to $2.1 million, along with a $1 million grant from the county, on the construction of multi-use ball fields adjacent to the wetlands in Platte Landing Park. I think the Board of Aldermen was wise in slowing down the process to conduct a community-wide survey to assess park priorities in general and uses for Platte Landing Park in particular. Beyond this specific issue I think it is important to move ahead and hire a park director before any other major actions are taken. Then the city needs to look at the park plan and identify priorities and how best to use the park sales tax funds to implement those priorities.
- Support construction and staffing of a police substation in the western portion of the city. The city is currently developing plans for the substation. We need to carry through on the construction of the substation and appropriately staffing it.
- The city needs to set standards for what circumstances it would consider in diverging from its newly adopted Master Plan. I have been on the Parkville Planning Commission for over 14 years and an issue for me is how to balance development requests against the uses specified in the Master Plan. I believe that deviating from the Master Plan should require a compelling reason and the city should set out the conditions under which it would deviate.
- The city and Park University will benefit from a closer relationship. Park University is a major asset for the city and an important part of its identity. While city/university relationships are good, I believe there is more we could do to cooperate and make the university an integral part of the community. I would suggest regular meetings to discuss upcoming issues and events for both organizations and how we can help each other be successful. Also how can we do a better job of integrating students into the community fabric?
- We need to continue to strengthen the relationship between downtown and the city. What are the priorities for building a thriving downtown and how do we work together to implement those priorities? Not only do we want to promote business and residential development downtown, but we need to address traffic issues, especially as traffic increases on FF. Finally, we need to work closely with the downtown community as we move forward with efforts to quiet the RR horns and add safety features to the RR crossing.
- Make Parkville a Sustainable Community. As we make decisions on projects and investments we need to ask if these decisions are sustainable in both environmental and financial terms. Will they contribute over the long-term to a community that is healthier, stronger, more resilient and more attractive than it is today? Work with neighboring cities and regional partners to reduce the region’s carbon footprint.
- For my pickleball compatriots, move the benches at the new pickleball courts outside of the fence. They are a hazard where they are currently located and could injure someone. Also we should sponsor an annual Parkville Pickleball tournament with proceeds going to the Veterans Memorial.
I would welcome comments and thoughts. Please email DeanKforMayor@gmail.com.