Mayor Ron Shaffer and City Councilman Michael Kelly took to the podium at Cherokee Christian Church for a debate sponsored by the Prairie Hills Homes Association on Saturday, just over a week before Prairie Village voters decide which of them will occupy the mayor’s office for the next four years.
(The debate was moderated by the Prairie Village Post and only open to Prairie Hills Homes Association members).
The most striking contrast between the candidates came in their answer to a question about the passage of the Community Improvement Districts last September.
Of the CIDs, Kelly said the city had made an error entering into an agreement with LANE4 that didn’t allow any of the tax revenue generated by the districts to be used to improve city-0wned property. Kelly has said if elected, he intends to renegotiate the CIDs with LANE4.
“I think it was a short-sighted giveaway,” Kelly said.
Shaffer pointed out that the CIDs were contractual obligations, and weren’t likely to be alterable. He said he supported the passage of the deals because they would bring important upgrades.
“They [LANE4] are an aggressive, young company, and they do things right,” Shaffer said. “We came up with a contract to allow them to use CID tax money to further develop those project. They are that important to us.”
Kelly was asked how, given his recent council attendance record, he could ensure citizens he’d have time to devote to the duties of mayor.
Kelly said he’d lost a job and gotten a new one during the past year, which had caused some conflicts with his council obligations. But, he said, he’s received the support of his new employer, who he said understands the time commitment required by the mayor.
Shaffer was asked why, since he is already the longest-serving mayor in Prairie Village history, voters should grant him an unprecedented fourth term. Shaffer pointed to neighboring cities like Westwood and Overland Park that have had long-serving mayors, and said he wanted to maintain the quality of life the city is known for.