Housing tear-downs in Prairie Village stir debate
Prairie Village voters go to the polls Aug. 7 for the city’s mayoral primary. Three candidates are on the ballot: Eric Mikkelson, Serena Schermoly and Andrew Wang. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election in November. They are seeking to replace Laura Wassmer, who chose not to run for re-election.
Here’s what the three candidates had to say about some of the top issues in Prairie Village:
Occupation: Business lawyer
Political background, electoral history: Former city councilman served one four-year term on Prairie Village City Council, 2014 through the start of this year.
Endorsements: The Mainstream Coalition, Kansas House Representative Jerry Stogsdill (21st District), current members of the Prairie Village City Council: Dan Runion, Jori Nelson and Tucker Poling.
Position on proposed neighborhood design standards: We should do more to proactively address teardowns to preserve the special charm of our neighborhoods, including adoption of the “Phase Two” design guidelines currently under review by the City. With increasing property values come tough challenges to balance evolving market demands with preserving the unique character of our Prairie Village community.
Position on property assessment increases and taxes: I voted to reduce Prairie Village’s 2018 property tax rate, and was the only candidate to do so. While rising home values are good for Prairie Village residents in the long run, they allow us to maintain our city’s fiscal strength while also giving our seniors on fixed income and struggling families some property tax relief.
Key priorities: 1. Maintain the character of our neighborhoods. 2. Expand bike and walkability. 3. Public safety. 4. Fiscal strength and low taxes. 5. Parks. 6. Foster the arts. 7. Support Prairie Village schools.
Campaign website: https://www.mikkelsonforpv.com/
Occupation: Safety director, transportation industry and small business owner
Political background, electoral history: Prairie Village City Council member Ward 2, beginning in 2016.
Position on proposed neighborhood design standards: I support keeping the Prairie Village charm. I am concerned about how some proposed ordinance changes would affect the current residents’ ability to make changes to their current homes. The issue is more than just teardown/rebuild. Construction noise and disruptions are also a large part of resident’s concerns and we need to solve these issues, without creating new ones.
Position on property assessment increases and taxes: Residents have been shocked by dramatic increases in property valuations. The city must be responsible in ensuring additional revenue is used in part to lower taxes for our residents. As mayor, I will work with City Council, the County, and our legislators to ensure we are tackling this problem.
Key priorities: 1. Resident engagement: Volunteer Corps, deliberative forums, live-stream meetings. 2. Maintain Prairie Village charm. 3. Bike and pedestrian paths. Affected residents need to be included in the discussion, and removal of old-growth trees should be avoided.
Campaign website: www.serenaschermoly.org
Occupation: Health care administrator.
Political background, electoral history: Elected to City Council since 2004. Continuous service on city council for three terms, currently serving fourth term.
Endorsements: Did not seek.
Position on proposed neighborhood design standards: I supported and voted for the Phase 1 Design standards. There is a need to investigate further standards. As a council member, I am fully engaged in Phase 2 discussions, learning from citizens and the planning and design professionals and will encourage deliberate steps to complete the process.
Position on property assessment increases and taxes: The increased value that is represented by the higher appraisals is not all good news. It can have a negative impact for residents on fixed incomes, but the burden of the tax lid imposed upon us by Topeka makes it very risky to make the city, recipient of just 16 cents of every property tax dollar, the first source of relief.
Key priorities: 1. Calibration of neighborhood character and livability with housing renovation and renewal. 2. Sensible stewardship of the City budget. 3. Require funding proposals with new programs. 4. Setting success-measurement criteria. 5. Responsibly enhancing the Prairie Village lifestyle. 6. Pursue investments in services and amenities