Leawood candidates focus on taxes and aesthetics

03/18/2014 1:40 PM

03/18/2014 1:42 PM

Leawood residents will have the opportunity to vote for Ward 3 representation on April 1.

Tom Robinett and James Stephens are vying for the remaining two years of an unexpired term. In September, Robinett was appointed to fill Gary Bussing’s term when Bussing moved out of the ward.

Taxes, responsible spending and city aesthetics are key issues for both candidates.

Robinett wants the city to maintain responsible spending habits. As the state cuts its budget, more responsibilities will be placed on the local government, he said, and Leawood should be prepared to handle those responsibilities.

Balancing the tax base also is important. Because commercial development often pays almost twice as much in residential taxes, Robinett said it is important for the city to foster commercial development when possible. Exploring the possibility of development along 135th Street is one option, he said.

At the same time, making sure development fits the character of Leawood is crucial. Robinett said the success of Park Place shows that mixed-used development works in Leawood. Future development should be pedestrian-friendly and offer the chance for young people to live and work in the same area. Robinett would also like to see upgrades to parks and walking trails. He said these kind of improvements are key to diversifying the population.

Stephens wants to serve on city council as a way to give back to the community. As a retired engineer, he said he can learn anything and will have no trouble adapting to a position on council.

His biggest concern is property values. Stephens wants to maintain high values for homeowners as a way to attract new residents and build confidence in current residents. He also wants to ensure the city is spending tax dollars wisely by maintaining streets, security and other services.

Leawood has a distinct look and feel from other cities in the metro, he said. Maintaining infrastructure, streetscapes and parks is important to keeping the city’s image. He said Leawood’s charm should be a major focus of the city.

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