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Overland Park Ward 6 Candidate Interview

KLC Journal Candidate Interview

Overland Park City Council Ward 6

Rick Collins, candidate for Overland Park City Council, Ward 6

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I have represented the 6th ward in Overland Park since 2011. I want to leave OP a better place than when I found it.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

More funding for infrastructure. The Kansas Legislature has imposed restrictions on how municipalities can increase their respective mill levies, which are part of the life blood for street improvements.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

We have two choices. Reform the tax lid legislation which is not very likely in the near future, or put a mill levy increase to a vote of the OP citizens.

As a candidate, I believe that …

I am not sure whether Johnson County has enough affordable housing

To what extent do you see a lack of affordable housing creating problems in your community?

To a small extent

What, if anything, would you do about a lack of affordable housing in your community?

We first need to define “affordable housing.” A better description may be “attainable housing.”


How would you prioritize this issue in comparison to other issues that you expect to deal with while serving in office?

 
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest priority, 3.

 


Scott Hamblin, candidate for Overland Park City Council, Ward 6

 
Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

 
I am a lifelong resident of Johnson County and have lived in Overland Park for over 15 years. I am happily married with four great children all attending the outstanding Blue Valley schools. Currently I work as an Air Traffic Controller and spend most of my free time coaching youth sports. Something I find both enjoyable and rewarding by helping youth from all backgrounds perform at their best.

I am running for numerous reasons. I think it goes without saying that all candidates share a love for our city and I am no exception. I feel this election is likely the most critical election to the future health of Overland Park  that we have had. To give an example of just a few key issues, we face budget revenue that is not keeping up with spending. A pending situation that threatens to drop our revenue further by as much as 30%.  A situation that we are not prepared for and the City Manager describes as “catastrophic”. Infrastructure such as road and sidewalks are failing in many areas of the city while the current council continues to spend money to push for more southern expansion at the taxpayers expense. This will create just more urban sprawl while we don’t have the resources to maintain what we currently have. Our police staff is understaffed and falling further behind, and many more issues we could continue to discuss.

All these shortfalls have developed under the current leadership. I do not believe the incumbents that put us in this position are the best suited to correct it, especially when most do not acknowledge these challenge present a real danger to Overland Park and the residents.


Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

First and foremost I would like to see the Overland Park City Council return to serving the residents best interests and actually listen to their desires. The current atmosphere, especially in Ward 6, is that the elected officials and their close special interests such as developers have an agenda and the residents are just an obstacle. This is clearly evident if you look at Ward 5. The incumbent does not share the same mentality as the rest of the council. That has resulted in a hand picked, highly funded, friend of special interest challenger to try to take his seat. It’s time for the residents to have a say and why voter turnout will be critical in returning the council back to the people.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

This can be summed up in three simple steps

1. Communication with residents!

2. Communication with residents!

3. Communication with residents!

Last but not least, it is then time to act on the results of this communication. Doing right by the residents and building a future Overland Park that is healthy and responsive to the residents is the job of city council and it’s time for this council to do that job.

What, if anything, would you do about a lack of affordable housing in your community?

I believe taking on the challenge of affordable housing is a worthy cause. I also believe it brings significant challenges. For instance, as a candidate for Ward 6, this issue is a bit of a different animal. Do I believe in building apartments next to estate homes in southern area of the ward? Absolutely not. High property values is also a sign of a healthy economy. Many residents are not interested in seeing their property values drop because of actions taken by the government. People put a lot of their wealth into their homes and I do not believe in taking any action to negatively effect the wealth of Ward 6 residents. Are their areas and ideas where we can take action, absolutely. This must be a well thought out and executed plan.

How would you prioritize this issue in comparison to other issues that you expect to deal with while serving in office?

As I stated above, Ward 6 presents challenges when it comes to government action to effect housing costs. The reality of the situation is that Overland Park must have resources to solve many of these issues. Right now we have a budget that is in the red and falling. Without a correction to that there is not many issues the city will be able to effectively address.

 

Update - I was proposed this question in response to the this interview.  I felt it was a fantastic question so I have included the question and my response below. 

Q. Scott, are you saying you are not in favor of business being built farther south such as grocery stores, restaurants,etc. that would be a convenience for citizens living south of 151st Street?

 A.  I am simply stating that we need to start taking a closer look at unsustainable shopping centers being proposed by developes that are only viable with millions of taxpayer money. As the council currently calls it "public-private partnerships". They are giving millions to developers who don't have the resources to develop and no support from banks or private investors because of the extreme risk involved. How it works now is that the city props up these unviable developments with tax money to the same developers and attorneys that lobby them and fund their campaign. I'm 100% for private development formed from a proper business plan and actual funding by the investors that know best and not by tax giveaways from 12 random people on a panel that do not specialize in banking or development. Long story short, natural development as a result of proper economic conditions is fantastic, but todays unsustainable city financed development is tomorrows blight and that is a risk for the future of our city.


Quote from the Harvard Business Review...

"Many P3 (Public-Private Partnerships, also known as tax giveaways) projects go off the rails. For example, a European Union review of nine such projects launched between 2000 and 2014 found seven were late and over budget."

Quote from the New York Times

"Giveaways like these are often a waste of public money. Research on a program of corporate tax breaks in Texas found that 85 to 90 percent of the projects benefiting from such incentives would have gone on without them"

To sum this up, publicly financing projects not sustainable independently leaves the taxpayer to clean up the mess. Logical projects supported by local economic conditions nearly always did not need the public money to move forward anyways. The original idea of publicly financing private projects was designed solely to assist in cleaning up blighted areas. In Overland Park and elsewhere it has since morphed into a lobbyist controlled way for corporations to take advantage of the city leadership and taxpayers for projects the concept was never intended to be used. Tax incentive financing is not supported by any evidence that it has a positive effect on the local economy but evidence does support they pose a threat to the future of the city. Keep in mind, California was the first to use TIFs and the first forced to abandon them as we all know why. Should we follow in the footsteps of California and their economic demise? Something I encourage you to decide this Nov 5th. The future of our city absolutely relies on your vote!

-Scott


Paid for by Scott Hamblin For City Council
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