• Stephanie Meyer

The Role of a Mayor.

We’ve all experienced what it’s like to work with a leader who is engaged, informed, thoughtful – supportive of the ideas of others, while also bringing their own to the table. Whether it’s a colleague, boss, or fellow volunteer, their spirit creates a culture of positivity, creativity – and often, gains real results.

In my six years on the council, as well as through my service at the state and national levels, I’ve had the opportunity to work with elected leaders from across the political spectrum and learn from both their best practices and opportunities for growth. These experiences have shaped the way I view the role of a mayor, and how I would approach the position if elected.

I believe that a mayor:

Listens…and then leads. An effective mayor is someone who listens – whether that be to the residents, business owners, or fellow community members – and considers all sides, but ultimately acts. The public should know where you stand on the issues, and how you got to that point, even (and especially) if they don’t agree with you.

My opponent listens to all sides but refuses to provide specifics on her opinion of projects, issues, or a broader vision, instead relying on the new strategic planning process that she only advocated for once up for re-election.

Drives organizational culture. A mayor sets the tone for the city. I would work to bring civility back to our public discourse and look for opportunities to bring all community members into the conversation, while empowering staff to seek out innovative solutions and projects.

Over the last four years, the culture of the city has changed significantly as the incumbent empowered a small group of angry naysayers who are actively working to hold our city back and constantly undermine staff.

Serves as the leader of the governing body. We’re a diverse city, and while individual council members are charged with representing their ward, a mayor must consider what is best for the entire city and provide a broader viewpoint, while helping to achieve consensus.

My opponent has not provided leadership, preferring to sit silent and wait for council to provide her direction. This has led to a lack of a cohesive focus.

Acts as the ambassador for our city. A mayor should be the public face of Shawnee. Certainly, this includes within our city, but just as importantly, to outsiders interested in bringing their business or their family to Shawnee. Other Johnson County cities have stepped up their game, and we cannot afford to continue to refuse to compete.

The incumbent views her role as inward-facing and does not participate in regional economic development or policy conversations outside of our city boundaries.

Advocates for the residents. City council approval is often just the beginning of the process. As mayor, it is your job to ensure that projects move forward as promised, and to be the voice of the residents when we hit inevitable roadblocks. Successful implementation of an idea is even more critical than the concept – just look at Nieman Road.

My opponent has not taken a leading role in the implementation or oversight of significant city projects, often refusing to even publicly weigh in, at any stage.

Supports our excellent staff. We have some of the best city staff in the region, and a mayor should always be publicly supportive of their work – especially in the face of critics. As President Truman famously said, “The buck stops here.”

The incumbent has routinely allowed staff to be publicly attacked by extremists. Often, for decisions made by the governing body.

Learns from our peers. It’s important that a mayor take the time to engage with peers from across the region – and throughout the country. There are local governments doing really incredible things to move their community forward; there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be learning from those examples – or even bringing them back to Shawnee! But we can’t learn if we remain in our silo of “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

In thirteen years in office, my opponent has rarely participated in the National League of Cities, regional chambers of commerce, or other opportunities to learn from outside of our city.

Respects the critics…but doesn’t let them drive the bus. A mayor (and any elected official) should listen to the viewpoints of every resident but should not let a small and vocal minority dominate the discussion. Learning from our critics is one thing; giving them the keys to the city (including city-appointed positions) is quite another.

The incumbent has appointed, or attempted to appoint, individuals who do not support growth onto our planning commission, individuals who do not support economic development onto the economic development council, and as a council member, actively lobbied for the appointment of a council member who has been an obstructionist on many issues facing our city during his time in office.

Do you agree that it’s time for a change? Join me!