Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Armourdale Political Forum: Mayoral candidates


NOTE: Since there are a lot of candidates and a lot of races in Wyandotte County, I'm going to try and focus my reporting on races that have primaries. In light of that, here's a report from tonight's Armourdale Forum, where all five mayoral candidates spoke. We'll have Unified Government commissioner recaps later in the evening. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.



Barnes, who's served as a commissioner on the Unified Government's Board of Commissioners since 1995, referred to his experience as his strongest suit.

"Experience really counts this election season," Barnes said. "Wyandotte County is on the verge of becoming a great, great place."

Barnes pointed to the economic growth across Wyandotte County as a sign that his leadership would work as mayor of the Unified Government.

"I have the blue-print of what it takes to succeed in Wyandotte County," Barnes said. "When you experiment with candidates, you open yourselves up to failure. You can experiment or vote for experience."

Barnes was the first candidate to declare for the race.


Like Barnes, Holland spoke of his record of experience as a commissioner for Wyandotte County.

"I've been elected twice by the whole city," Holland said, referring to his position as an at-large commissioner in Wyandotte  County. "We've had great success with growing jobs and we were building so much, we were ranked number eight in the nation in the area of construction."

Holland said a significant portion of the post-STAR BOND windfall expected to hit Wyandotte County should be spent on tax relief.

"We need to use that money to take a bite out of our property taxes," Holland said.

Holland was recently endorsed by out-going mayor Joe Reardon.


In contrary to the three UG commissioners running, Meeks III accepts the "political outsider" label like a badge of honor.

In an organized stump speech, Meeks hit on his points of priority for Wyandotte County - continued economic development, safer streets, prioritizing education and keep property taxes lower.

"We have to look at new innovative ways at doing these things," Meeks said.

Meeks, a small-business owner in Wyandotte County, said political experience is not necessarily needed to make good things happen as an elected official.

"You don't have to be on the board of commissioners to have a passion and vision for where Wyandotte County can and should be," Meeks said. "I can be a leader who takes us to the next level of success."


In her limited time, Murguia pointed to two specific issues in her speech - development east of Interstate 635 and property taxes.

"You need someone with a proven track record of economic development in the urban core," Murguia said. "We must start having more success east of I-635. Our tax base east of I-635 is declining more rapidly than our increase out west."

Murguia represents Argentine and Rosedale on the commission. She said District 3 has had major growth and that's in part to her working with the community in those two areas.

She also pointed to two votes she has made as commissioner as a big reason why voters should support her.

"I'm the only candidate up here who has never raised your property taxes (when it was possible)," Murguia said, referring to her votes opposing two mill levy increases during her elected career.


In her speech, Witt said her candidacy is about changing the status quo.

"Having more of the same in Wyandotte County means more nothing for the actual residents of Wyandotte County," Witt said. "We were promised that this economic development was going to lower our property taxes. It hasn't."

Like Meeks III, Witt has never been elected to office.

She said she would work to make the community more involved.