Councilman Ryan Finn, though the youngest to currently sit on the Belton City Council, has had some major life experiences that have prepared him for this position.
Finn grew up in Belton and graduated from Belton High School in 1995. He joined the Marine Reserves and served for six years as a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Specialist. He also earned his Associates Degree from Longview. He decided that he was ready for a change and joined the Carpenters Union Local 61 where he was a member for fifteen years. Finn planned to retire from the carpenter job, but a career ending injury changed those plans in 2012. “It was one of the most painful days of my life, but one of the best days of my life too.” He was forced to choose another career path and with his extensive knowledge from the construction side of things, real estate seemed like a good fit. He currently is a licensed real estate agent and works for Keller Williams Southland Partners in Raymore.
His journey to the Council was somewhat unorthodox, but his willingness to serve wherever he was needed was clear. He started out on the Planning and Zoning Board, working there for a year and a half before he was approached by Mayor Davis to fill a vacancy left on the Council by Scott Von Behren’s resignation. “I wanted a way to connect with the citizens of our community a little bit more. I felt like I could definitely add value for a couple of different reasons, my past job and my current job.”
His constituents must have liked what they saw from their appointed Councilman because they elected him to the position in April of 2016. He says that he learned a lot running in an election for the first time, and he plans to do it again when his term is up next April.
Coming into the Council in the manner he did meant that he had to learn his role and responsibilities on the go. He worked hard to get up to speed on everything the Council was working on but one thing that he was not prepared for was how long and difficult the budgeting processes was. “I learned a lot about the City and how we budget our money. It’s a huge responsibility. By learning that process, it helped us as we were working through the year as things are coming up and need to be paid for. It’s allocated in the budget; they’ve already planned for this to happen. It was a learning experience.”
One thing that he is really proud to have worked on is the City’s new trash contract with Jim’s Disposal Service. “The Council spent two years working on this. I think it’s phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of that and getting that piece done.” Finn says that he has received mostly positive feedback from the citizens regarding this change that takes effect January 2018.
Some things that are coming up that Finn sees as exciting progress forward for the City of Belton is the results of the passage of the School Bond Issue earlier this year. “As a Councilman, looking at the strength of our City, it’s in our schools. Passing the bond and getting the improvements to the schools, I’m really looking forward to watching that piece happen.” Another project that he finds invigorating for the City is the development along 163rd Street.
When it comes to the concerns for his own ward, roads top the list. “I think a lot of the roads in the neighborhoods get tore up and getting them replaced is super expensive. So looking at the different ways to replace the roads, how do we make all this work? That is a huge concern right now. No one wants to spend $30,000 on a car and drive it down roads that just tear it up all day long. I can sympathize with that. But how do we make it to where we are not raising our taxes anymore? How do we get it in our budget to where we can continually improve our roads?” Finn points out that some seemingly unrelated decisions can have impact on the road situation, for instance the trash contract. Narrowing it down to one trash company utilizing streets for the service will significantly cut down on the wear and tear of the city’s streets says Finn.
Something that Finn sees as a need for the City as a whole is entertainment. “To make this as a destination, what is there here for them to do for the day? We have shopping going in – great; tons of places to eat – fantastic. Now they want to have fun. So how do we entertain people while they are here?” He is open to suggestions on how to fill that gap, but is confident that is something that needs to be addressed.
Of course working for the good of the City means working together with his fellow Councilmembers. “I like the diversity in our group. We do come together in the end. I appreciate the wisdom [of the Council].” Finn recognizes that he is the youngest and one of the newest members of the Council and he knows that he can learn a lot from them. “Do we always agree? Absolutely not. But I appreciate that as well. It is good to have varying opinions.”
Finn has a long history with Mayor Davis who was once his wrestling coach and teacher in high school. He now sees much of the same style that Davis used in the classroom and coaching in his leadership within the City. “He never micromanaged us. He let us develop and become leaders of our own. He was growing leaders. I feel like he continues to do that. He has a vision. We take the part of that vision that is ours to carry forward and he gets out of our way and lets us do our job.”
What it comes down to for Councilman Finn is that the people he represents know that they are heard. One thing that he has worked hard to do is to stay in contact with the people of Ward 1. He acknowledges that he cannot give everyone the answers they want, but he promises that their concerns will be heard and addressed. “It’s my job, I feel like, to be a conduit to get information from the city to the people and vice versa. My goal is to get everybody that wants to be involved and that cares, to know what is going on. I want to make that readily available to them.”
If you have any questions or concerns for Councilman Finn you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his Facebook page Ryan Finn – Belton City Council Ward 1.