Mission Mayor Laura McConwell doesn’t officially end her term in office for almost two weeks, but the city and northeast Johnson County gave her a big sendoff Thursday evening.
The Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center, named for her predecessor in office, was filled with friends, city staff, and politicians from nearly every city in the northeast to congratulate McConwell on her 12-year tenure as Mission mayor.
Among her most satisfying moments and accomplishments in office, McConwell said in response to a question later, were expansion of the community center, increasing parks and green space, the new city pool, improving infrastructure to support redevelopment, expanding boards and commissions so more people can participate, creating the grant program for small business, the public events and festivals, creating more housing options for seniors, watching Mission re-green and providing more transportation options for everyone.
“It’s like having a family. It’s hard to pick a favorite,” she said. “What I’ve enjoyed the most is working with the people of Mission as we’ve moved our Community’s vision forward. We may squabble about the ‘how’ but, for the most part, we agree on the where.”
She loves seeing all the people on trails and sidewalks, but might pick the new pool as top of the list of most satisfying moments: “It’s definitely been the most fun.” Improving Johnson Drive is probably the most complex project, she said. “It will be fabulous once it’s completed.”
Her list of what she consistently heard about from citizens:
1. We need to fix Johnson Drive;
2. Seniors houses and yards were getting bigger every year and they wanted options to move but stay in Mission (and providing houses for young families);
3. We needed to expand Community Center and replace the pool;
4. Residents living south of SM Pkwy needed a safer way to cross the highway.
“I’m proud to say that we, as a community, have addressed and are currently addressing those top concerns.”The mayor received several mementos from the city and accolades from community leaders, including County Chair Ed Eilert, Commissioner Ed Peterson, and Mid-America Regional Director David Warm.
Warm said McConwell represented the “we can” attitude that accomplished a lot for Mission and helped set a model of sustainability that other communities follow. Eilert said his recollections start when McConwell was a child because his wife and the mayor’s mother were high school classmates and friends. He praised her community visioning.