One candidate, Jim Schultz, has a big edge in years of experience.
The other, Eileen Weir, has a big advantage in campaign donations.
One of them will be the next mayor of Independence, where Don Reimal is not seeking re-election.
Among their shared concerns is how to provide more resources to the police department.
In 2007, a consultant recommended that the city add 55 police positions.
But more than 60 percent of Independence voters defeated a 3/8-cent police sales tax in 2009. Then, in 2012, more than 72 percent rejected a property tax proposal.
Voters in Raytown and Blue Springs, meanwhile, have approved ballot measures benefiting their police departments.
“People are concerned about crime but they clearly did not want to support a property tax for more police officers,” said Weir, who was elected to 4th District City Council seat in 2012.
“There are lot of interpretations about why that happened, but this community did not have the confidence in the City Council to effectively manage that money.
“I firmly believe we need a more visible police presence. I believe we need to look at the budget and take a sharp pencil to it, and figure out where we can save money in other areas.”
Schultz, a 12-year City Council member, believes the voters may have spoken on a police tax.
“I don’t see us bringing the tax back anytime soon,” he said. “I would like to see if we could find some way to bring in more of a community policing program.”
Police Chief Tom Dailey long has advocated putting more resources into community-oriented problem-solving, which includes heightened neighborhood awareness of law enforcement personnel and initiatives.
“I think that is a great program and I fully support the chief in that,” Schultz said.
Both candidates expressed cautious optimism about the city’s general economic outlook.
“I’m happy to learn that people regard Independence as a good area for development,” said Weir.
“But there has been a lack of aggressive pursuit of development. It’s time for Independence to play a bigger part in the metro development discusion. We could be attracting the type of development that cities smaller than ours are getting. That takes knowing who the players are and being at the table when those discussions are held.”
Schultz said many separate economic initiatives need to go foward. Among them: the business park that the city is developing at Missouri 78 and Missouri 7.
“We need to get some spec building up there, so when the economic development council brings somebody to town, we have something to show,” Schultz said.
“We also need to keep doing what we are doing with the Ennovation Center, growing home-town jobs.”
The Ennovation Center, a job incubator in the former Independence Regional Health Center, serves enterepreneurs representing about 30 area start-ups. Most involve food products.
“We have a great kitchen incubator there, and I’ve read that about 85 percent of companies that develop in one city will stay in the town that they have grown in,” Schultz said.
“But we also need to have other types of businesses, such as light manufacturing.”
Both Weir and Schultz attended the January meeting convened by Indy Energy, a citizens group seeking to generate dialogue about how the city’s electric utility generates electricity.
Independence has two of the older coal-burning power plants in the state.
“There was a lot of agreement at that meeting about the future of energy, that coal is not the future,” Weir said. “But nobody believes we can meet our base needs just with renewables.
“This is a decision that is going to have to be made after a lot of investigation and discussion, but I’m in no hurry to make a snap decision on it.”
Schultz agrees the matter deserves dialogue.
“We need to continue to have more discussion about this and figure out what we are going to go with in the future, be it coal or gas. And I would really like us to consider some alternate energy sources, either solar or wind.”
Weir’s campaign committee has reported $103,720 in total receipts to the Missouri Ethics Commission. The corresponding figure from Schultz’s committee is $16,758.28.
Weir has received support from labor unions, among other entities.
“The contributions I’ve received represent a broad base of support, some of them from the business community,” Weir said. “I take that to mean that these people believe in me and they understand that to be successful I have to run a professional campaign.”
Schultz, while conceding the wide disparity in funds, believes experience also will count.
“I hope that money is not going to determine this campaign,” he said.
“I hope the general public looks at the experience and leadership abilities we both have, and consider that when deciding who they are going to vote for.”
Schultz has been endorsed by Citizens for Effective Leadership, which also contributed to his campaign.