Neighborhood blight, food deserts, homelessness, lack of jobs, ongoing issues with policing and plans to replace a community swimming pool with a “splash pad” designed for tots.
Those are some of the issues on the line when voters in Wichita’s City Council District 1 go to the polls for an Aug. 1 primary.
The primary will begin the process of replacing council member Lavonta Williams, who is in the last few months of her tenure before she must leave office because of term limits.
Four candidates have stepped forward to run in the election, making District 1 the only Wichita council or school-board district with enough candidates to justify a primary.
Only residents of District 1 can vote on the race. The district extends from Washington and I-135 on the west to Woodlawn in general on the east. It stretches from Kellogg on the south to 53rd Street on the north at some points. It also dips down farther south to Harry and Mount Vernon between Washington and Hillside. And it takes in a slice of downtown, from the river west between Douglas and Kellogg.
The top two vote-getters in the District 1 primary will advance to the general election Nov. 7
The candidates are Brandon Johnson, Michael Kinard, John Stevens and Janet Wilson.
All are well-known community activists with diverse ideas about how to solve the issues facing District 1.
Here, in their own words, are their backgrounds and answers to Eagle questions about what they hope to do if elected to the City Council. A few responses have been shortened; otherwise, the responses have not been edited.
Meet the candidates
Brandon J. Johnson
Occupation: Program coordinator
Education: Friends University, Wichita State University
Political experience: None
Community involvement: Co-Founder/Executive Director of Community Operations Recovery Empowerment, lead several organizational and community efforts to empower the wichita community with the skills and tools necessary to live happier, healthy, and increasingly successful lives. Past: Volunteer for Male 2 Male, and Second Chance at Family Services Institute; Program Director Summer Youth Employment Training Program (Family Services Institute & Saint Mark UMC); Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; Grant Chapel A.M.E Community Victory Garden Coordinator; Youth Services Worker (Salvation Army); Youth Care Worker (NuVision);
How long lived in district: 30 years
Occupation: Photographer My PictureMan LLC
Education: Bachelor’s degree, business administration
Political experience: Board of Education, USD259, 2001-05; board president, 03-04
Community involvement: Youth Educational Empowerment Program Board; Greater Penecostal church photographer. Past: President Gamma Nu Chapter Phi Beta Sigma Inc.; Chair Juneteenth Celebration; League Commissioner McAdams Park Summer Softball; Head Coach Little League Baseball-NE Optimist Club; Community Voice Radio Show Co-host ; Board member Communities United Credit Union; Community Mediation Services mediator; SCKEDD Micro-loan Credit Committee Chairman; Wichita-Sedgwick County Weed & Seed Board; North Branch YMCA Board; Urban League of Kansas Board; Urban Inititatives Church of God In Christ Financial Literacy Co-Chair; mentor program Jackson Elementary; My VA Communities Board Chair.
How long lived in district: Since 1975
Occupation: Retired owner oil and gas production business.
Education: WSU, accounting, Letourneau University, engineering, Kilgore College, oilfield technology.
Political experience: President, Wichita Pachyderm Club Inc., 6 years.
Community involvement: Past Chairman, Wichita SCORE business mentoring group. Wichita Park board, 4 years, Vice Chairman and BOD, Schweiter East Neighborhood Association
How long lived in district: Born in the Wichita and have lived or had a business office in District 1 most of my life.
Education: Liberal arts and business bachelor’s degrees, Wichita State University; master’s degree, Friends University.
Political experience: None
Community involvement: District Advisory Board District 1, President of AP Woodard Neighborhood Association, President of Northeast Area Council; Transit Advisory Board; League 42 Volunteer Board; KLC Northeast Leadership Group; Vicious Dog Advisory Council; Wichita Independent Neighborhoods Inc.
How long lived in district: 54 years
Phone: (316) 312-3179
Why are you the most qualified candidate?
Brandon Johnson: I am a collaborator with a track record of service and results. I have directed a summer youth employment training program that taught 1,000 young Wichitans entrepreneurship and job skills. I served on a state group for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. I am the co-founder of Community Operations Recovery Empowerment, which has worked to build community gardens and positive relations between law enforcement and community. I serve on the District I Advisory Board. I worked with the community as well as city officials to secure body cameras for police. Working with Chief Ramsey, we organized the First Steps Cookout to build trust with the community.
Mike Kinard: As a lifelong resident and graduate of Friends University, I'll bring to the position a 30+ years experience working in both the private and non-profit sectors. During that time I've worked in small business development and owned my own small business. I have served as a volunteer for numerous boards and I've served as a member of the USD259 Board of Education where I served one term as president of the board. I've demostrated a commitment to our community, to business and economic development and to supporting local government. I am prepared to go to work for the City of Wichita and will hit the ground running.
John Stevens: I grew up in District One: then as now, a diverse and enriching community. My USD 259 and WSU education prepared me for business success as well as giving me the confidence to be active for over forty years in Wichita business and civic affairs. No other candidate in this race can match my broad-based local experience.
Janet Wilson: Worked in community over last 20 years on various boards and as president of a neighborhood association. Tutoring and mentoring in community; worked since 2009 on neighborhood cleanups; distributed over 2000 pounds of free fresh produce to the urban desert in last 6 years; worked on blight removal in last 7 years; proven leadership by example; helped pick current police chief.
What is the city’s role in creating and retaining jobs?
Brandon Johnson: I believe the City can create the right environment for businesses to flourish. As a council, our job is to set policy that helps support and strengthen business within our city. As a council member for District I, my goal would be to promote our district in new ways that entice businesses to locate and grow. Retaining jobs typically comes from the amenities a city provides. If we are building strong and safe neighborhoods, quality roads, and taking care of parks and bike lanes; we can be sure that businesses will be more likely to remain in our great city.
Mike Kinard: City government must take an active role in establishing a culture and support structure that helps business and entrepreneurs start and grow. I will support private-public partnerships that are beneficial to the City and establish and ensure opportunities for employment. Towards that goal, we must collaborate with local Chambers of Commerce, Sedgwick County, Kansas World Trade Center and Wichita State University. We must develop and implement programs that will entice our young talent to remain while strengthening our culture and arts to attract them here.
John Stevens: The city needs to continue to invite established businesses to relocate to Wichita. We also need to continue to support the entrepreneur community through entities such as e2e and Wichita Startup. New jobs are also created when local small businesses are started in our community. People today want quality of life with their careers. There are your well-paved streets, nice pools, clean parks, and safe neighborhoods! Wichita ought to be attracting scores of businesses on that basis when we consider our low cost of living; a great (and rapidly improving) police force, world class fire protection, health care, and dozens of parks.
Janet Wilson: I see myself as providing an environment that will allow success in starting new, growing established business. Wichita has several tools for entrepreneurs; one of my jobs is to provide the link between the two. Helping to continue training required to gain and retain jobs. Building a more diverse job environment and workforce. Education is key.
Most pressing issue
What is the most pressing issue for the city and what do you think city leaders should do about it?
Brandon Johnson: The most pressing issue we are seeing in Wichita continues to be diversifying our economy and ensuring that citizens have access to living wage employment opportunities. This issue is even more present in District I where we have seen divestment and some businesses closing their doors. The City needs to continue its efforts to support the Blueprint for Regional Economic Growth (BREG), Entrepreneurial Task Force, efforts to increase summer youth employment, and support entrepreneurial efforts.
Mike Kinard: Our system of public transit is often overlooked as an important quality of life component. By providing this basic public service we offer mobility for our residents, reduce traffic on our streets and increase economic opportunities for businesses. Yet, we need partners from other governmental units: such as Wichita State University, Wichita Public Schools, and Sedgwick County (WATC),and private buinesses, such as: Old Town (late night,early morning service), Towne East and Towne West malls, and major employers (for second shift workers),such as Spirit Aerosystems, Cessna and Koch Industries. The City of Lawrence partnership with University of Kansas is a good model for us to consider.
John Stevens: City Hall has lost the confidence of the public that “economic development,” as practiced by the City, can and will produce high quality and enduring civic benefits. What comes to my mind are such flops as the failed Waterwalk project, that River Vista land giveaway and the fact citizens had to stage a ballot-box revolt to stop another crony giveaway for the Ambassador Hotel project downtown. We have overspent our financial resources that should be budgeted for neighborhood needs such as police, fire, and infrastructure which includes streets, parks, and swimming pools. We should be concerned about all of Wichita not just building up the downtown area.
Janet Wilson: Our most pressing issue at this moment is safety. The police force is under staffed. If no one feels safe then jobs become a non-issue. Corporations will leave and some will not consider coming because of safety issues. This will also reduce our quality of life. Safety is vital to the overall economic environment for this city. The city should look at increasing funding for our police.
Top district issue
What is the most pressing issue in your district, and how would you address it?
Brandon Johnson: Economic Development is the key issue in District I. Zip codes such as 67214 really need an economic boost to improve income levels and battle other issues. As a council member I will support and engage with the Blueprint for Regional Economic Growth, the Entrepreneurial Task Force, Greater Wichita Partnership, and the many groups intent on teaching our young people the skills of being a successful entrepreneur.
I will commit to promoting our district as the location to build a business, meet with small business owners on a regular basis to discuss ways to continually improve the way we support as a City, and help promote the many opportunities around our District to start a business.
Mike Kinard: District one is home to some underserved neighborhoods 67208,67214, and 67219 that need more outlets to purchase basic need items like milk, bread, and eggs. We need gas stations, shopping outlets and entertainment in our neighborhood. However, this is not something the City alone can provide. While the City can provide TIF zones; we need private developers to utilize the incentives offered. In order to spur development, community organizations and churches — in conjunction with the City — must help with this effort by creating safe zones that provide a sense of security and comfort.
John Stevens: We need to enhance neighborhood policing and pay particular attention to drug and gang issues. Our city is short 49 police officers and 24 support personnel for the police department. We also need three animal control officers to address the excessive number of dog bites of postal carriers and citizens. Too many of our citizens have lost their door-side mail service because of dogs running at large.
Janet Wilson: Economic development is the most pressing issue at this time getting employers to locate in this part of town is hard work with the perceptions that it is not safe or blighted. I am willing to work hard to reverse that stigma that it is not a safe place. It is as safe as most areas in this city. Getting workers qualified and ready when the jobs come. Keeping an optimistic outlook for the area.
Proposed tax increase
What do you think of the proposal to increase the property tax mill levy to pay for more police officers? How would you vote on it in next year's budget?
Brandon Johnson: I am a supporter of the vision of Chief Gordon Ramsay and have been working with the department to improve community policing to be sure that we have the ability to hire more officers to make this a reality for our citizens. I want to be sure that we, as a city, have exhausted all means of alternate funding for more officers prior to voting to increase the mill levy. If we cannot find other funding sourcing within the budget, then I would support increasing the mill levy to ensure that our citizens are safe and that we begin to lead the nation in law enforcement/ community relations.
Mike Kinard: Public Safety must be our highest priority. Yet prior to supporting a proposal to increase the mil levy I will look under every rock, and leave no stone unturned, in an attempt to find available funding for more police officers. It is important to remember that funding is also needed for our Fire Department.
John Stevens: State statute says a mill levy increase by city council vote can only go to “public safety”. Currently there are no mill levy dedications for public safety departments. Will this increase be a one-time-only fix or will it be indefinitely dedicated to the police department? What other options have been explored to address the police budget? Too many unanswered questions to make a decision on how to vote. At this point it would just be a vote to raise our taxes which I would not support without additional information.
Janet Wilson: First I would look for excess in other places, then if a tax increase was warranted then I could justify voting for one.
What should the city do about Century II?
Brandon Johnson: I believe we need to allow Arup Advisory Inc., to complete their work on funding alternatives and design options for both renovation and the possibilities of a new facility. Once this process has been completed I believe the City should begin an extensive outreach effort to inform the citizenry of the facts on both renovation and a new facility. Once that has been completed, I would support a public vote on the future of Century II in recognition of its iconic history in our City.
Mike Kinard: I will be an advocate for arts and culture. This is more than a 'Quality of Life' issue it also stimulates the local economy. A study done by Arts & Economic Prosperity concludes that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $94.7 million industry and one that supports 2,841 full-time equivalent jobs in the City of Wichita. It is imperative that we move our facilities into the 21st century and modernize Century II in order for us to capture our market share from state of the art performances and conventions to our City. Can we design a new facility that will pay tribute to the iconic structure while taking advantage of modern technology — Century III?
John Stevens: We need to save Century II and seek to renovate it, not demolish it. We just spent $200 million to build the Intrust Bank Arena and can't seem to keep it fully functioning in the way it was intended to work to bring interesting programs to Wichita. Why spend another $400 plus million just build another big disappointment downtown?
Janet Wilson: If possible rehab but if not look at all options on the table. Century is an Icon of Wichita.
What do you think about the city's plans for Naftzger Park? What would you advocate doing there?
Brandon Johnson: I am always supportive of investing in our current parks, but I believe Naftzger Park is a beautiful piece of our downtown and would love to see it maintained mostly as it is now. Basic infrastructure improvements are necessary, but the layout and water are attractive to our city, and I know thousands of Wichitan’s have used this park to photograph special moments in their lives. I am open to seeing the newly proposed ideas, and would be supportive of improvements and/or a similar type of park there.
Mike Kinard: As a photographer, I have often used Naftzger Park for Senior pictures and other photo shoots. The problem is not the park itself, the issue is the homeless that call the park home. The open space floor plan, while sold as better use of park land for open concerts etc., is not addressing the homeless issue; it's only making this space undesirable for them to stay. I am not in favor of dismantling Naftzger Park for open space concept. Let's find solutions for the homeless.
John Stevens: Naftzger Park is an “oasis” in a sea of downtown buildings. The park has many amenities including a pond, water falls, trees, gazebo, and paved walking path. Our City Council is considering spending up to $3 million filling in the pond, clearing the trees and other amenities so the area can be covered with concrete and artificial turf. This plan would designate the developer of the old Spaghetti Works building adjacent to the park to develop a “public” area beneficial to his development with an initial $1.5 million in Tax Increment Financing funding and an additional $1.5 million public funding over time. I OPPOSE THIS ABUSE OF A CITY PARK AND THE USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR THE BENEFIT OF A PRIVATE DEVELOPER. This is a classic case of money that could be spent for upgrades in District 1 to include upgrading and saving the McAdams Neighborhood Swimming Pool.
Janet Wilson: Since something is going to happen look at the best possible solution to improve the park. On the homeless issue, Wichita has a great HOT team to help with that issue.
What is your evaluation of the current state of relations between your district's community and the Wichita Police Department? And what do you see as your role in that relationship as a council member?
Brandon Johnson: The state of relations between law enforcement and community is good and getting better. My role as a council member will be to continue the work I have been doing with the Police Department and ensuring they are transparent, inclusive, and actively working to build bridges in the community among our citizens. Under the leadership of Chief Ramsay and the work I have been a part of in Wichita, we are seeing more opportunities where community is coming together with law enforcement. When it comes to building relationships, I believe that we need to ensure that law enforcement is intricately connected to the community and that both sides are working together.
Mike Kinard: Since the arrival of Chief Ramsey there has been improvement but more must be done to repair and strengthen the relationship between the community and the officers that are entrusted to protect us. I am a staunch advocate for our police but as a resident I too have had a bitter experience with an officer and understand why some have resentment. There is no place in our community for negative relationships with those who have sworn an oath to protect us. I applaud Chief Ramsey’s decision to allow some discretion by officers in traffic stops and the proposed 'Citizen Review Board' for transparency within his department. I will have ongoing dialog with the Chief and key staff to ensure that I can help build positive relationships between the community and Police.
John Stevens: In my opinion, the WPD has an ongoing, working, positive relationship with District 1. The District Advisory Board has been a platform for police and district citizen exchange. The role of the DAB board could be expanded to discuss issues involving conflicts with the WPD in order to facilitate resolution.
Janet Wilson: The environment with the current police is good. My role is to build upon the current environment and enhance it wherever possible. One of the things I looked for when we were selecting a new chief was commitment to community policing. As council, my role is to help build the relationships already there and to help community policing relationship grow within the community. I was on the selection committee to get the current chief here.
What is your stance on the City Council’s decision to remove the pool at McAdams Park and replace it with a splash pad?
Brandon Johnson: Although I understand the financial argument behind closing the pools, I would rather see the pools open. We must, as a community, do a better job of using our resources but closing the pools also removed an opportunity for our young people to not only learn how to swim but also have something to do. The McAdams pool is historic, and designed by Wichitan Charles McAfee. I believe the pool is worth saving, and my goal as a council member is to usher in the growth and development of the McAdams area in order to breathe new life into the neighborhood and support the historic park.
Mike Kinard: I learned how to swim at McAdams Park pool so I was disappointed in the decision to close the pool. But we must look historically at McAdams. In 1968 the MLK highway divided the park from the neighborhood, and urban renewal removed the remaining homes west of the highway leaving the park and L'Ouverture Elementary school with an industrial park to the north and west side and limited access from the south and east side neighborhoods. I too have sentimental attachment to the pool yet we must recognize the evolution of the times and be mindful of the budget constrains for the City. If the decision cannot be reversed, I will advocate keeping the existing structure and work with community leaders and neighborhood associations for the best options available as a splash pad for family use.
John Stevens: I disagree with the decision to dismantle the pool area at McAdams Park. I think it should be remodeled and made more attractive. Adult aquatic options in addition to children’s features should be considered in the remodel, as this adds to the quality of life for district 1.
Janet Wilson: Splash pads do not teach survival a pool does. I have fought for McAdams pool ever since it was first brought up for discussion. I am not happy about the decision. There are no public pools within the northeast quadrant.
Do you think your district receives its fair share of city funding? If not, how would you propose to change that?
Brandon Johnson: District I receives a great deal of support in regard to arterial roads, bike and walk trails, and infrastructure surrounding Wichita State University. I do believe that more investment could and should happen within neighborhoods. Neighborhood infrastructure, parks, and urban infill could use more resources. The current CIP has funding allocated to begin the process of addressing these issues, and I would continue to emphasize that a focus on neighborhood revitalization is needed to be sure Wichita is attractive to families and businesses.
Mike Kinard: Former Mayor Carl Brewer and Council member Lavonta Williams have done a tremendous job bringing City funding to District One. Several upgrades to major thoroughfares(i.e., 21st street from MLK highway to Wichita State University, 17th street from Hillside to Grove, 13th street from MLK to Oliver) were funded. The Red Bud bike path and infrastructure upgrades for Innovation Campus are beneficial to the City of Wichita not just District One. Yet there are more necessary upgrades in District One that I will advocate, including- the Dunbar district, McAdams park baseball fields, College Hill street flooding and bring attention towards the former Boys and Girls club building at 21st and Grove. Once elected, I will be a supporter for appropriate projects outside district one such as Striker Soccer Complex and Lawerence-Dumont Stadium. We are OneCity.
John Stevens: With what funding there is, I believe District 1 has been treated unfairly. The millions of dollars being pumped into downtown, for apartments and hotels, don't benefit our neighborhoods. Economic development tools should be used across the entire community and not just for the special interest downtown developers.
Janet Wilson: I think that this part of the city was neglected for so long that the funding is just catching up with the area. I would look at the budget and CIP to see where the funding is going and make sure District 1 was getting a fair slice of the pie.
How would you address problems with blight and abandoned and/or dilapidated housing in your district?
Brandon Johnson: In regard to blight, I would first begin a series of meetings with property owners and community members to begin to build a consensus of how to deal with these issues on a neighborhood level. As we are working toward solutions together, I would invite other council members and state representatives to the table to see how we can come up with a comprehensive plan and partnership. With this approach, opposite of the current Urban Infill Committee, I believe we can begin making more impact. Of course, living wage employment opportunities help to empower citizens to keep their property up, increase home ownership, and fill empty lots with new families.
Mike Kinard: There is current legislation (Senate Bill 31) that is a promising remedy for the City, yet the details still must be ironed out. I will work with Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau and Representive Gail Finney to clearly define our role when using eminent domain. This is a City-wide issue and we need the proper tools in order to address some of the loopholes used by some of (mostly out of State) property owners that will not allow the City to move on these abandoned and/or dilapidated houses.
John Stevens: We need to be more proactive in addressing houses or property that have been abandoned or allowed to deteriorate while respecting the rights of both the property owners and their neighbors. In recent months the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department has hired a code enforcement liaison person with social work training to facilitate the bringing together of existing housing resources with troubled property owners. I applaud this initiative since it involves assisting property owners who are many times older citizens and/or those with physical, mental, as well as economic challenges. This is the type of intervention that facilitates the preservation of low-cost economically affordable housing and brings about positive “neighborhood-uplift”.
Janet Wilson: I am already addressing blighted houses. For those that have elderly and disabled persons living in them we collaborate with the Sedgwick County Hazardous waste to provide the paint, we then partner with the youth that have community service sentences to do the painting. For the abandoned houses, I am working with the state to help draft a law that allows for the seizure of those properties and rehab them in some form. I know this community; I believe in this community, I am willing to do what it takes to make this community a safe and caring place to live.
A great deal of new development is taking place on the campus at Wichita State University. How could or should the surrounding neighborhoods work with the university to build on that growth?
Brandon Johnson: In my opinion, as a staple in our City, I would like to see the University continue the method of the Fairmount Community Outreach. The university should be leading the effort to reach out to surrounding communities to see on a grassroots level how the University could be of service to the surrounding community. The Fairmount Neighborhood Association successfully led the community engagement piece with the Hugo Wall School at Wichita State. In this way, the neighborhood associations can better state the needs of their specific area than the university could.
Mike Kinard: The real question is how could the university help build the neighborhood. In 2014 President Bardo announced the formation of the 'Enough is Enough Task Force'. He stated "Our success and future is tied in every way to the success of the surrounding area..." The development of the Innovation Campus is truly exciting, yet the growth of the neighborhood surrounding the campus is stagnant. Employment opportunities are a key for the success of the surrounding community, and with expanded employment coming to the campus, I would work with WSU and its expanded campus partners to aggressively recruit and hire people from the surrounding community. My role as a city council member would be to work diligently with the university to make its resources available in a way that can help grow the surrounding community, economically and educationally.
John Stevens: We need the ideas that are being created by Wichita State’s innovation campus. District 1 needs to be a good neighbor that collaborates and supports this program at WSU.
Janet Wilson: With the Go Create center open to the public, I think this is an excellent opportunity to advance the areas surrounding the campus to help develop the areas and bring the community and WSU together. Some can supply housing, and businesses that will enhance the community and college experience. As the new law enforcement center comes, it will become a place where the community and those being trained can work together.
Is your district adequately served by public transit? If not, what would you propose to improve it?
Brandon Johnson: District I suffered a few route changes due to the recession and cuts to transit. Routes were moved based on highest usage and that has caused some hardship to citizens who have a more difficult time getting to the newer bus stop locations. My goal as a council member is to find ways to increase funding to transit to make it a more robust service offered by the city of Wichita.
Mike Kinard: Much research has been done on identifying upgrades and changes to municipal transportation. More needs to be done to address this basic quality of life issue. Most will agree public transit currently is not adequately serving the needs of District One. We must change our mindset become innovative in our solutions. We need partners like Wichita State University that instead of a park and ride system, provide home to school service. The City of Lawerence and University of Kansas is a good model we can consider.
John Stevens: There may be some changes needed, but I think some of that will come in time as we seek to improve the public transit system all over the city.
Janet Wilson: As adequate as possible considering that transit is underfunded and is not staffed to build a more robust transit system. I would make transit a priority along the lines of safety, when business look at relocating to Wichita they look at how our transit system functions. To build capacity the system needs longer hours and more routes.
What other priorities do you have and how would you address them?
Brandon Johnson: My priorities are to improve the economic environment in District I, continue building community and law enforcement relations by improving community policing, begin work on the abandoned housing and empty lot issues to bring more families into the neighborhoods, identify and implement sustainable funding for public transit, improve the City infrastructure, and ensure greater government transparency. Put the focus back on neighborhoods and build our community.
Mike Kinard: I stand with Mayor Longwell to end homelessness for our Veterans. Yet, we must also do more to address the issue of homelessness overall. The United Way is working tirelessly to identify the chronically homeless- individuals with a disabling condition that has been homeless for at least 12 months. Efforts are being made to get them housing that will meet their needs.
John Stevens: We are having too many incidents between bicycle riders and motorist. A coordinated effort needs to be made to educate both bikers and motorist about the rules and proper practices while navigating Wichita streets. Enforcement of these rules needs to be a commitment of the WPD.
Janet Wilson: Quality of life issues: Public streets and infrastructure, parks and recreation, and recycling. The city is doing more to rebuild old streets but there are still many unpaved streets in the city. If the streets are old, the understructure is as old. This needs to be addressed and make it part of the measurement. Helping area parks where people can enjoy themselves get people turned on to recycling, reducing and reusing to reduce our carbon footprint.
Please state, in detail, your position on open records, open meetings and transparency in government.
Brandon Johnson: I fully support a transparent and open government. I believe the press and citizens should be informed of what happens with Government and the decisions being made. I support that government operations should be open to citizens, and that the city could be much more open than it currently is.
Mike Kinard: My 'position' is to follow the Statutes that address access to open records and open meetings and will look for ways to provide more transparency in the City government while protecting the information that needs to be kept safe.
John Stevens: I strongly believe in transparency, especially in the area of economic development. This is the area where taxpayers need to see what is happening to their neighborhood money and why we can't properly fund ordinary functions of government because were spending so much on developer’s pet projects. An annual, detailed report on its economic development activities could be posted on the city website. The city fulfills many record requests in electronic form. Perhaps through a pdf or spreadsheet file the city could easily post the economic development projects list on it’s website, so all citizens could have access to it.
Janet Wilson: I have no issue with open records, where it can be applied. Looking at police and fire, sometimes that information needs to be kept out of the public view for said time until cases are solved. On city council, the information should be public, except where by law.