Five residents from Raymore’s Ward 3 presented their cases for the vacant council spot at the special Raymore City Council meeting Monday, August 5. Ward 3 covers the northwest section of the City. The candidates consisted of Janelle Biernbaum, Kyle Ervin, Jay Holman, Robert Piepho, and Marvin Shaw.
Opening statements were made by each of the contenders before they were questioned by the Council.
Ms. Biernbaum has lived in Raymore since 1991 and has served as the Director of Business Management at the Belton Regional Medical Center for eight years. She stated that she has a passion for growth and development, citing her heavy involvement in the Raymore Chamber of Commerce.
“I have the time, talent, and energy for this appointment,” Biernbaum said. She referred to her community involvement as her strongest point in her candidacy.
Mr. Ervin has lived in Ward 3 for three years and has recently graduated from the University of Missouri. He is now working on his Master’s Degree at the University of Kansas. Ervin is a practicing civil engineer and said he has rubbed shoulders with many in the community through church and community involvement. Referring to his younger age, Ervin stated that he is at an “advantageous point in life to relate to a wide range of residents.”
Mr. Holman stated that he would be more “off the cuff,” as he brought along no prepared paperwork to present from. Holman graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in political science and drew on his previous experience with the City of Raymore. He has served on the Parks and Recreation Department as well as the Planning and Zoning Commission. Holman described Raymore “as a city about to enter an exciting period.”
Mr. Piepho has lived in Raymore for six years and has spent 41 years in higher education, as professor and Dean at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy. Speaking to his leadership experience, Piepho referred to his time in Lee’s Summit when he helped with their strategic planning in the late 1990s. He has also served on the Board of Chairmen for John Knox Village since 2000. He said that he can use his past positions to “make parallels” with City leadership.
Mr. Shaw has lived in the Raymore and Belton area all his life. He started working for the Belton School District 17 years ago, working with Information Technology. Shaw moved to Raymore seven years ago. “I love the city of Raymore,” he stated.
Mayor Peter Kerckhoff began a set of five questions for the candidates by asking them about their experiences on boards or bodies of other organizations. Each candidate was required to answer every question within three minutes.
Biernbaum referenced her experience with the Raymore Chamber of Commerce. She has served as Secretary, Vice-President, and President of the Chamber over the past years. “I have worked very closely with the people who have lived and worked in the Raymore community,” she said
Holman once again drew on his experience serving the City of Raymore on the Parks Board and the Planning and Zoning Commission. Referencing the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, Holman said that he “learned a ton about group dynamics.”
The second question asked the candidates to describe the skills and abilities that would make them profitable to the Council.
Ervin spoke to his ability to work with a team while having strong personal convictions. Piepho said that he has been involved with program development in his past which has taught him how to work with others while moving forward with growth.
The third question asked the candidates what they would expect to accomplish over the next nine months if elected.
Holman said that progress as a community is much more important than personal feats. He went on to state that the stewardship of taxpayer money must be a primary focus. Shaw explained that his focus would be to connect with the residents of Ward 3 through personal visits and social media interaction. Ervin commented on the lack of development in some subdivisions as well as storefronts and the importance of advancing those areas economically.
The fourth question asked the candidates how they would help the community to be a better place to live, work, and play.
Biernbaum said that she believes a safe living environment, good parks, public outreach, and being a true public servant would best help Raymore. Holman expressed that it was important to get more residents involved in City government affairs such as City Council meetings.
The fifth question to the candidates was “What things will guide you while you determine your position on things on which you will vote?”
“My guidance will be my constituents,” said Mr. Shaw.
“My conscience,” replied Ms. Biernbaum, while also citing the needs of community residents.
“Any input I would receive through phone calls or e-mails I would take into consideration,” said Mr. Ervin, while also referring to common sense and the input of other Councilmembers.
Mr. Holman stated that he would listen to the people and his own heart along with City staff, Councilmembers, and advisory boards.
Mr. Piepho concluded answers to the last question by saying he would listen to his constituents, the City, and whoever else would give input.
After public comments were made by two people in attendance—one speaking in favor of Biernbaum, one for Ervin—each candidate received three minutes to make closing statements about their candidacy. All five people in the running thanked the Council for the opportunity to fill the vacancy and spoke to Raymore’s bright future.
After the first roll call vote, Holman and Biernbaum received two votes apiece (Abdelgawad and Kellogg, Boehner and Hubach, respectively) and Piepho received three votes (Moorhead, Stevens, and Wescoat). For a candidate to officially fill a vacancy, he or she must receive four votes from the Council. With Ervin and Shaw being removed from eligibility, the Councilmembers discussed the three remaining candidates.
Councilmember Sonja Abdelgawad supported Mr. Holman as the most qualified candidate for the position. She cited his experience working in the City of Raymore as the main reason why he should be elected. Councilmember Derek Moorhead spoke of the connections with the people in Ward 3 that will be needed in order to be successful and defended his vote for Piepho.
In a second roll call vote all of the Councilmembers voted the same except for the other Ward 3 Councilmember, Jason Boehner, who changed his vote from Biernbaum to Piepho.
With the four necessary votes, Robert Piepho was sworn in as Ward 3 Councilmember for the City of Raymore and took his seat at the front of the Council Chambers, casting a vote for the adjournment of the meeting.
“I thought the process was very well done,” said Piepho after the meeting. “It was a tough decision with a very, very good slate of candidates,” he continued.
When asked what is at the forefront of his mind as he enters into the City Council, Piepho replied that “continued economic growth is important, but we have got to balance that with keeping the small city feel that Raymore has. I think that is one of our real assets and why people want to come here.”