Here’s a rundown of a few highlights from a busy May we’ve had as a city:
56th and Foxridge asphalt – passed May 20
51st and Lamar stormwater backup repair – passed May 203. *Lamar Ave. UBAS surface treatment and bike lane addition project underway*
ROCK CREEK CHANNEL IMPROVEMENTS
Rock Creek Channel improvement between Nall and Roeland project underway – passed May 20
I presented the following ideas which were discussed favorably to promote voter engagement at the May 6, 2020 committee meetings:
Promote the mail-in ballot applications that Johnson County elections plan to mail to every JoCo voter.
Put voter registration information permanently in each issue of the Mission magazine.
Develop a resolution (to be unveiled at a future date) to encourage greater voter turnout in the city, potentially including something fun like a Ward competition.
2021 MISSION BUDGET
Today at 6:30 we will have our first city council work session on the 2021 budget where we will go through revenue projections in light of the pandemic.
We recently passed our 2019 Audit where we received an award for accounting excellence. As your council member, I’ll treat the budget process with the seriousness and stewardship it deserves.
On May 13 we passed a special reopening plan that follows the Governor’s Ad Astra plan with some city-specific modifications. The screenshot gives you a rundown from that meeting on the outline of that plan.
We have a special city council meeting tomorrow night at 5:30 to discuss the reopening of the community center based on recommendations put forward by our Parks and Recreation staff.
All of these meetings and deliberations are available on the missionks.org calendar. We have a deliberative, intelligent body that asks thoughtful questions. The May 6 committee meetings were a 4+ hour conversation around many of the items that eventually were passed above.
Tonight I’m introducing my first special item in a committee meeting: tangible steps we should take to increase voter engagement in Mission. These ideas were inspired by a workshop I attended at the recent National League of Cities conference in D.C., and I’m looking forward to discussing them with my colleagues.
We’ve got a packed agenda tonight, so join us via Zoom! In addition to this item, a sampling of the other items we’ll be discussing:
The contract to the Rock Creek development project
Our next steps regarding COVID-19
Examining the city’s financial health in our 2019 audit
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I wanted to share a few non-COVID-19 decisions coming out of last night’s council meeting:
We voted to proceed with a street resurfacing project spanning Lamar Avenue from Foxridge Drive down to Shawnee Mission Parkway. Lamar is the main artery through Ward 1 and Mission and I will be happy to see this project completed.
This project will create bike lanes on Lamar Avenue! This is something I heard a lot of people talk about during my campaign and I was happy to join the rest of my colleagues to push this across the finish line.
Based on the information I know right now, this project will start in May and should last around three months for the resurfacing. The bike lane application portion will follow suit upon the completion of the resurfacing project.
A couple of final thoughts: this project involves city, county (Johnson County CARS), and federal (Safe Routes to Schools) dollars. Our city staff had to navigate special coordination and contracting requirements across the three layers of government to make this work. It is yet another reminder that local government matters and I am happy the county has partial reimbursement programs in place like CARS to help us get necessary work completed.
After eight months of campaigning, Trent was elected to the Mission City Council on Tuesday. He received 90 percent of the vote, the largest margin of any contested 2019 municipal races in Johnson County.
“Thank you, Mission!” Trent said. “So humbled and honored to be your next councilmember.”
Public incentives should be used with caution, restraint, and on a case-by-case basis. Too often, cities in Johnson County have used such incentives to check the box on short-term goals that do little to address the long-term needs facing our cities – maintaining affordability, encouraging sustainable development, and preserving the spirit of what makes a city attractive. I believe Mission should only consider the use of public incentives when there is clear evidence that public investment is necessary for a project to be feasible and that the project will bring about strong benefits to our residents. With respect to tax increment financing in particular, I am leery of committing future tax collection for 20+ years when real estate trends can shift unpredictably. We should be purposeful and strategic when it comes to our vision for the city, and this includes our approach to using public finance incentives. This is a sentiment I share with many longtime Mission residents I’ve met throughout my campaign. We are fortunate that our city already attracts high-quality development opportunities and my focus as a councilmember would be to strengthen what makes Mission unique – the comforts of a small town with the luxuries of the big-city metro.
I was not surprised to see Mission lead that ranking because neighbors always tell me about how much they love living here. I’ve met residents from all walks of life — everyone from empty nesters to young professionals. We share a sense of community and pride here thanks to our historic neighborhoods, locally owned downtown businesses and citywide events. This dynamic makes us a gem of the region and it is important that we preserve this strength. Many of our neighbors attribute their ability to thrive here to affordable housing, nearby schools and quality services. To ensure Mission remains an attractive place for the middle class to call home, we must be proactive in strengthening core services, incentivizing healthy lifestyle choices through bike lanes, green spaces, and sidewalks, and ensuring new development promotes affordable and sustainable housing. Through these strategic initiatives, Mission will preserve its reputation as an accessible place to put down permanent roots.
The biggest challenge facing Mission in the coming years is housing affordability. We have the opportunity to be proactive on this issue and should take advantage by placing it at the forefront of city deliberations moving forward. Ward 1 is home to the highest population of renters in our city. Earlier this summer I spoke with a woman in her apartment who said that she loved Mission but feared getting priced out of her complex. On Council, I would start to address this complex issue by:
Considering long-term goals when making decisions on new development. We must be wary of inadvertently pricing out portions of the population based on vague promises. Any new development proposals should prioritize the needs of all residents, including our most vulnerable populations.
Promoting and expanding community housing improvement grants. Mission is fortunate to be able to offer grants that provide residents with neighborly assistance that can help alleviate financial burdens for needed repairs. City grants like the Mission Possible program and partnerships with local non-profits like Habitat for Humanity allow for qualifying residents to receive general home maintenance and repairs. These types of programs benefit all residents by elevating the look and feel of the whole community.
Partnering with the Johnson County commissioners. We must work with the county to streamline initiatives and learn from best practices elsewhere in the metro area. Together with neighboring cities, we should explore programs and awareness campaigns for attainable housing.Mission was recently named the best city to live for the middle class. I will be a voice for these working families when it comes to housing affordability and maintaining our quality of life.
Check out Trent’s responses in The Journal, a magazine published by the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC). KLC “envisions more Kansans sharing responsibility for acting together in pursuit of the common good.” Read Trent’s responses below:
Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.
My name is Trent Boultinghouse and I grew up on a farm in rural southeast Kansas where I participated in 4-H and FFA at Girard High School and went on to receive my bachelor’s degrees from the University of Kansas. After graduation, I worked on policy directives at the Pentagon, and then pursued a master’s degree at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, where I studied governmental programs to reduce poverty. Even away from home, Kansas was never far from mind. I returned in 2016 with the hopes of advancing my state in a more empathetic, sustainable and forward-thinking direction. I’m running for office because I noticed a disconnect between City Hall and the young people in my Ward, where the majority of residents are renters. As a Spanish and Portuguese speaker, I am interested in reaching underrepresented members of the community, as well as encouraging more young people to put down roots in our town. I am ready to apply my present role in data analysis with my experience in federal government to help demystify complex city issues for my constituents.
Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.
In talking with voters, sustainability issues frequently emerge as an area that excites residents and sparks curiosity. I would like to continue the city’s momentum in this area through expanded sidewalk coverage, improved bike lane access, and increased partnerships with KCP&Ls Renewables Program, for example. The KC metro area is especially vulnerable to the extreme weather brought on by climate change and as important state and federal initiatives are held up in gridlock, it is up to cities to help take the lead in ensuring smart practices for future generations.
As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.
I have lived everywhere from farm country to major cosmopolitan cities and understand the importance of consensus building based on meeting people where they are. Mission is fortunate to have a dedicated and active Sustainability Commission that works on developing services and making recommendations to Council. I would partner with them as well as seek community input to build upon the progress that previous groups have already made. Some of the tools available in this effort involve improving and promoting the Mission community grant program for residents to create more efficient and sustainable projects in their homes, incentivizing LEED technology on new development, and building on our community pride in our parks and green spaces.
As a candidate, I believe that …
Johnson County lacks affordable housing for too many people who want to live here.
To what extent do you see a lack of affordable housing creating problems in your community?
To a very great extent
What, if anything, would you do about a lack of affordable housing in your community?
Mission is beginning to attract more residential development and I would help work with community stakeholders, city staff, and colleagues on the council to discuss incentives for the developers to include affordable housing units in their plans. I would also work with existing affordable apartment complexes to ensure units are safe and up to the standards that members of this community expect. Given issues in other areas of Johnson County with “McMansion” property flips that artificially exacerbate and raise home values, I would work to ensure our homes retain their relative affordability, as well as their livability, through responsible council decision-making. These goals ensure everyone benefits as residents have greater power to use their dollars locally.
How would you prioritize this issue in comparison to other issues that you expect to deal with while serving in office?
Speaking with both renters and homeowners throughout my campaign has highlighted the importance of this issue. I want residents to feel secure in their housing choices in Mission. As opportunities arise to make differences, no matter how incremental or small, I will pursue them as I would my other priorities for the long-term health of the city.
The Tri-County Labor Council advocates for social and economic justice and strives to “vanquish oppression and make our communities better for all people—regardless of race, color, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, or ethnic or national origin.”
“I’m proud to stand in solidarity alongside these union women and men as they advocate for safe working conditions, livable wages, and fair benefits,” Trent said.
“Rui is a thoughtful, compassionate legislator in Topeka and his leadership style is one I have admired throughout my own campaign,” Trent said. “Rep. Xu understands the importance of strong communities – just last week I heard him give his legislative update during Mission’s council meeting.”
This campaign is about working with everyone to advance our city forward and Rui’s support helps us achieve that goal.