Learning from Others.
I’m a big believer in learning from others.
During my six years on council, I’ve been a very active participant in activities with our local Kansas League of Municipalities, as well as the National League of Cities (NLC). That has included work on state issues that affect cities, as well as nationally on the Community and Economic Development Advocacy Committee, Young Municipal Leaders, and the First Tier Suburbs Council, where I am currently a national Vice Chair.
Why care so much what other cities are doing, and issues they are facing? Quite simply, because it can save (or even enhance) our city’s valuable resources. If we know that someone else has tried an idea or approach and it wasn’t successful, we can learn from that. And perhaps even better, if we know someone has seen great success from an endeavor, we can study it and determine if a similar approach will work for us.
This effort is not to “copy” another municipality, but rather, to utilize existing information to tailor our approach, and to stay up-to-date on trends or federal policies that could impact – or benefit – Shawnee.
One recent example of this was the federal opportunity zone in our downtown corridor. Many of us had heard that these regions were being created by the Trump administration, but at the NLC conference that year, we were able to take a deeper dive, get the details and answers to our questions…which ultimately helped lead the city to a successful application – one of only two in our region. And while the full benefits of designation have yet to be seen, there is no doubt that it has already brought increased interest from the development community in the area.
On a different, but equally important topic, because of the presence at the regional and national level, we have been able to work with the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) on a recent national grant to study affordable housing in the metro – information that will be incredibly important as we move forward in our planning for the future of Shawnee.
I have been involved in both efforts, and plan to continue to do so.
My opponent has a different viewpoint on this, and in her fourteen years of representing the city in elected office, has not participated in state or national association activities, preferring instead to re-invent the wheel with every major project - and forcing Shawnee to work harder, rather than smarter. While we certainly want to maintain our sense of community and all the great things that set our city apart, why would we squander an opportunity to learn from those who have gone ahead of us? This is certainly a best practice in most other settings and should be applied here. We do not diminish who we are by learning from other communities.
If elected to serve as your mayor, I would continue my work to engage and learn from communities across the region and the country, for the benefit of Shawnee. I will continue to value being an educated and informed elected official and would continue to look for opportunities to partner with others or bring new ideas back to our city for consideration. And I will always share those experiences with all of you – the residents – so we can work together to plan for our best and brightest future.