Raymore Candidate Forum

With the election now just days away, it is important for voters to know all they can about candidates and where they stand on the issues. Last Wednesday, Raymore hosted a candidate forum for the City Council candidates as well as the Raymore-Peculiar School Board candidates. Brent Ewert was the moderator and Robin Noe was the time keeper. Below you will find the questions that were posed to each candidate and a brief synopsis of their responses. To see the entire forum, go to the City’s YouTube channel. Please practice your right and privilege as an American citizen and vote on April 7th.
City Council Candidates
Raymore is currently experiencing significant growth. What are some of the biggest challenges for Raymore during this time and what can the Council do to address the issues?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): While he dislikes TIFs, he supports them in a prudent manner. He wants to find a balance and knows that incentives are part of what draws companies into the area. He would like to see no more than a 50% TIF.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He feels that most if not all of the growth issues are out of the Council’s hands. It is Gene Thompson’s job to sell the city. The Council’s job is to grow housing so that as businesses come in there are homes for workers to purchase.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): Economic development, City Council, and business owners need to work together. Businesses come here because they can grow and make money.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He believes that North Cass Parkway is the next boom in Raymore.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She wants to focus on infrastructure like roads. She does not believe in throwing money at a problem until the cost and benefits are known. She says its just common sense.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He wants anchor tenant stores. He also believes the community should be involved. Traffic flow and connectivity are also things he would address.
What types of businesses and employers would you like to see come to Raymore and how would you attract them?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): He wants to see light industry, information technology, and major retail.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He wants to see a business park with hotels.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): He wants to see a business park and retail.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He wants to see unique and different types of shopping.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She wants to see light industry, technology, and the kinds of places that will offer people a living wage.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He wants to see light industry, shopping, and restaurants.
With the Civic Center planning process underway, what is your vision for the type of center, if any, that Raymore needs and could be successful?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): He wants it to be a rental and meeting space.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He would like it to offer a variety of opportunities including a stage for performances, meeting rooms, and a kitchen for things like adult education opportunities.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): He sees something more along the lines of a convention center.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He supports the Civic Center but does not want a duplicate of Belton’s High Blue Wellness.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She is not a supporter of the Civic Center as it has been presented, but may be more inclined to support something like a convention center.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He also does not want it to be a duplicate of what Belton has. He also does not think it all has to be under one roof and should be built one step at a time.
If elected, how will you personally communicate and be accountable with your constituents so that you will act with their best interests in mind on the Council?
Kevin Kellogg (Ward 1): He wants to be approachable but recognizes that most people do not call unless there is a problem. He does not like using social media as a way to communicate.
Joseph W. Burke, III (Ward 2): He would use electronic communication.
Thomas Circo (Ward 2): Communicating with people is what he does on a daily basis as an active member of the community as well as a business man.
Kevin Barber (Ward 3): He likes to have personal communication and believes that it has to go both ways with people reaching out to him and he staying in touch with his constituents.
Charlene Hubach (Ward 4): She likes to talk and feels that she is approachable. She is concerned about the effectiveness of channel 7 because of its poor quality.
John P. Berendzen (Ward 4): He appreciates the small town feel that Raymore has where everybody talks to everybody. He also would utilize social media.
School Board Candidates
As time passes, Raymore-Peculiar continues to grow. What do you see for the future of the Raymore-Peculiar School District?
Maria Connova Davis: There will be a building situation which is why the long range facility planning is important.
Dana Hille: There will be building issues particularly with the high school and the early education.
Melinda Houdyshell: Two things will become an issue, buildings and standard reference reporting.
Tonya Long: Thinks that its time to take a stand on issues so that they are not mandated by someone else.
Michael Schwartzman: Believes that there is an incoming influx of people from Kansas and the district needs to be ready to handle that.
Ryan Wescoat: There needs to be an evaluation of the utilization of space.
Media presents bullying and drug use as somewhat of an epidemic in schools in general. Do you believe this is the case in Raymore-Peculiar and, if so, how should it be addressed?
Maria Connova Davis: Does not believe that it is an issue but the few instances that she is aware of have been taken very seriously.
Dana Hille: Does not believe either is an issue.
Melinda Houdyshell: Does not believe it is a serious issue but that there is always room for improvement.
Tonya Long: Does not believe it is a serious issue but knows that policies are in place to handle those situations that arise.
Michael Schwartzman: The chain of command is such that the School Board rarely hears about any issues, but he believes that these are serious issues for the district.
Ryan Wescoat: He believes it is an issue and that bullying continues after school is out through social media.
Studies have begun to address and prioritize the district’s capital and facility needs. What is your vision for capital and facility investment the district must undertake in the next decade?
Maria Connova Davis: She believes that there will be a bonding issue that will need to be addressed. She also thinks that they should look into re-purposing the old high school building.
Dana Hille: She believes that all the focus should not be on building new buildings, but repairing the ones we already have.
Melinda Houdyshell: She believes there needs to be a bonding capacity, a new high school and that modulars should be utilized.
Tonya Long: She believes that rather than building something to meet current needs, the district needs to plan out ten years before building.
Michael Schwartzman: He believes that there should be a second story addition built onto the south building.
Ryan Wescoat: He believes that the old high school should be re-purposed and that mobile classrooms should be utilized.
Are you concerned about what has been perceived as a gradual loss of control of education issues at the local level, or do you feel the fears have been overblown? Explain your position.
Maria Connova Davis: All for local control. The district has a curriculum committee that writes the curriculum for the district.
Dana Hille: Does not believe that Common Core is as big an issue as it once was. As long as the district maintains control of the curriculum, she is not worried about losing local control of the district. She thinks the fears are overblown.
Melinda Houdyshell: She thinks it is crucial to keep as much control as possible and that common core should be removed from the schools. She does believe that the district does have some control and it needs to hold onto what it has.
Tonya Long: She believes that the district has lost control at a slow rate.
Michael Schwartzman: As long as the district retains control of the curriculum, he believes it will be fine.
Ryan Wescoat: He believes that control is being lost incrementally and that implementing policies of others and using canned curriculum means losing control.
The districts administrative team has undergone several changes over the past two years. How would you evaluate the direction this team has taken in Raymore-Peculiar?
Maria Connova Davis: Hiring Dr. Monsees is the best decision the Board has made in a long time.
Dana Hille: There have been huge positive changes which have led to a change in morale.
Melinda Houdyshell: She is seriously concerned with the implementation of Standard Reference Reporting.
Tonya Long: She thinks that Dr. Monsees is good for the district and likes the addition of Dr. Volker as well.
Michael Schwartzman: He believes that too much emphasis is placed on athletics and that there should be more examination funding.
Ryan Wescoat: He thinks the jury is still out on the changes.

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