In Westwood, four residents are vying for three positions on the city council.
The council at-large position will be decided on April 1 with Jason Hannaman, Sarah Page, Jack Sharman and Joe Whisler hoping to fill the three seats for a four-year term. For all four candidates Westwood View Elementary School and development are key issues.
Hannaman has been a Westwood resident for one year and said he moved to the city from Westport because of the schools. He said there is a concern that Westwood View Elementary, part of the Shawnee Mission School District, could close as a cost-cutting measure for the district. As a council member he would work to make sure the school board understands that the school is a center for community. Hannamman said the award-winning school is a key factor in encouraging new families to move to the area.
Another reason Westwood is unique, he said, is that it’s close to the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City but maintains a small-town feel without the congestion of bigger suburbs. Hannaman said it is important for the city to maintain that feel as it searches for new development options.
When it comes to development, Hannaman says he supports the planned Woodside Village, a retail and apartment development. Bringing commercial development will boost revenue and take some tax strain off of homeowners. Hannaman wants to maintain solid property values so that it is not a burden to new residents to buy and remodel older homes.
An 11-year resident of Westwood, Page said she wanted to get involved with the city to serve the community. Discussion about closing Westwood View has come up several times over the last decade, she said, and she wants to make sure the school continues to be a central part of the community. Page said Westwood View is one of the last truly walkable elementary schools in the Shawnee Mission School District.
Development like Westside Village is crucial to the financial success of the city, she said. Page would like to explore other areas that could be redeveloped for commercial or residential use like the former Entercom radio bilding on Belinder Avenue. If the area can’t be developed, she said, the city needs to make sure the owner keeps the building and two radio towers maintained. Page wants to find new partners and ideas to bring development and young families to Westwood.
Page said she wants to bring her experience handling budgets, writing grants and partnering people and government agencies to the city council.
Sharman said in his 10 years as a Westwood resident the city has taken financial losses when Entercom and Sprint relocated, so as a council member he would make sure the city is financially secure.
Commercial development, like Woodside Village, will be the crucial in providing that security.
Westwood View is vital to the the city because it bring the community together, he said. Not only do students build friendships among neighborhood kids, but parents also get to know each other. Sharman said he would focus on keeping the school open.
Along with the school and development, maintaining city infrastructure and police is also important, Sharman said.
Whisler said the current council has done a good job working with the Shawnee Mission School District to keep Westwood View open, but the situation could change. So as a council member, he said he would maintain steady a conversation with the district about the importance of the school. Because people move into Westwood so their kids can attend the school, he said it’s a key factor in growing the city.
Development will be important to keeping the city vibrant, he said. More projects like Woodside Village should be explored. The former Entercom property, he said, would be a good location for mid-density residential development like townhomes or a small scale apartment project. At the very least, Whisler said, the fence around the property should be removed to keep the area looking nice.
Above all, Whisler said he supports good, fair governance.