“My desire is for the City to continue to succeed and be a destination point for Cass County.”
Last spring the citizens of Ward 1 elected Reginald Townsend to the Raymore City Council. After seven months in the position he has a lot of insight into what it takes to be an effective Councilman.
Townsend brought his family to Raymore in 2010 when he was transferred to the area by the Marine Corps where he was serving on active duty. He was the officer in charge of one of the regional information support offices at the Bannister Complex. He and his family loved the area and settled in nicely. When word came that he may be relocated again, he made the decision to retire from the Marines after 22 years of service. “For military personnel it seems sometimes we take the uniform off and put on a suit and I transitioned into contractor.” He now works for CSRA, a government contractor for IT services.
His oldest daughter spent all four years at Ray-Pec and now his youngest daughter is in middle school. In addition to ties to the school district, Townsend who had moved around quite a bit with the Marines, loved the atmosphere that Raymore provided. “The family friendly neighborhood feel” topped his list of reasons for picking Raymore. He also was impressed with the “quality of the City and its infrastructure.” He said that the friendliness of the community reminded him of the family-like aspect of military base living where everyone helped each other and looked out for each other.
Townsend first became involved in the direction of the community through the Community Conversations that were held to get citizen input into what the City should focus their time and money on for the betterment of the citizens. “Participating in that really got me engaged. It was very enlightening and encouraging just listening to different people,” recalled Townsend. Now he has seen what those meetings really meant for the City. “It wasn’t just a conversation and an exercise. It actually birthed some of the things we are seeing now. They really took that and ran with it. And that is part of the reason I decided to run for City Council was to be a part of that,” said Townsend.
So far he is very proud of what the City has accomplished since he was sworn in. “We have lowered our city tax. We have an unfunded balance which means that our budget is such that we have money still left over after we have taken care of our expenses,” he said. Raymore has historically been fiscally conservative with their budgeting practices which has allowed for more long term planning rather than knee-jerk reactions. “Even after we have balanced our books, even after we have still 20% in reserve, we still have a balance. That just goes to speak to our City and how we are growing,” stated Townsend. He also gave a pat on the back to City Staff for how they handle contracts and make decisions that save the City money on a regular basis. “Our Staff are professionals in their industries. They are recognized in their industries. They are on boards in their various industries. That just goes to speak to what Raymore is capable of.”
One thing that Townsend would like to see more of in Raymore is entertainment options. “Our Economic Development team has been reaching out to various businesses to get more entertainment options. Residents want more options to fast casual dining. They want more options for their evening hours. And we would love to retain those revenues in the City,” said a very pragmatic Townsend. He says that there are a lot of ‘irons in the fire’ when it comes to plans for expanding entertainment in Raymore. “But not at the expense of our residents, meaning not at the expense of overly incentivizing to where we have an excessive amount of tax breaks,” promised Townsend.
Recently the City unveiled its new logo and new rebranding campaign for Raymore. “It’s very exciting to see from the Reimagine Raymore to the Come Home to More. We have kind of modernized it. That is a part of growth. And that is a part of change,” said Townsend. He said he was excited to put the best picture possible of Raymore out there for people to see.
For Ward 1, Townsend feels that traffic congestion is one of the biggest problems. It presents an unique quagmire in that the arteries out of Raymore go through Belton before connecting to I-49. The solution to the issue is not going to be quick or easy to come by. “It’s a multi-agency effort. We as a City are trying to plan ways to earmark money to do what we can within our budget and within our region as well as reaching out to partner areas because this benefits all.” He pointed out that some work has already been done including the Green Light Initiative and the opening of the North Cass Parkway exit. Townsend recognizes that not only will it take the cities of Belton and Raymore to find a solution to the problem, but it will also involve MODoT and MARC. “We don’t want the commute time to be a burden once they hit our City limit.”
When it comes to working with the other members of the Council he finds it quite enjoyable. “This current dais may not always agree, but we agree to disagree in a professional manner. There is no bickering amongst us.” He says that they have maintained the idea that it is ok to ‘attack the issue but not the person.’ “A very active debate allows for an exchange ideas and from an area that you may not have thought of. So it is encouraged amongst our Councilmembers.” He also said that his relationship with fellow Ward 1 representative Kevin Kellogg is a great working relationship. “We bounce ideas off of each other and agree on most things.” Having only served under Mayor Kris Turnbow, Townsend does not have anything to compare to, but appreciates his leadership style. “It’s very sage leadership. He has a very unique ability to corral the team and marshal them around an issue. He has a very calming way of introducing the topics and issues, giving us his opinion, but then letting us vote on it without overly pressing his position. That is very refreshing,” said Townsend.
As one of the newest and least experienced members of the Council, Townsend said that one of the toughest things he has handled on the Council so far is the budget. “The budget is a very in depth mechanism. It is very detailed. The Staff does a very good job of identifying and forecasting the needs of the City. It is pretty spot on when it comes to income and expenses to where we don’t go in the red in key areas. This is my first budget review and we were constantly reviewing the line items and making sure we are operating efficiently and judiciously. I’ve spent many late nights looking over it and comparing it to previous years’ budgets,” explained Townsend.
So far his favorite part is interacting with the citizens of the Raymore. “Hearing the concerns from the constituents and what they would like to see; being a mediator between them and the city; trying to find a balance between their needs and what the city is able to provide for all the citizens” were just a few of the items he listed off as his favorite part of connecting with the people of the community.
For anyone considering serving in local government, Townsend’s advice includes making sure you have adequate time to commit. He also says that they need to realize that they will represent a variety of people and backgrounds. “You have to be willing to commit your time to supporting your Ward and your citizenry because they are allowing you to make informed decisions on issues that are being brought before the Council and your being relied upon to make decisions that are equitable for all and that not just one citizen group.”
Having lived in areas from Seattle to Boston, Townsend has had a taste of a lot of different communities, and it was Raymore where he decided to settle his family and start a second career which says a lot for what kind of community Raymore is. Now he is investing his time and energy to making his community the very best it can be for all who call Raymore home.
Townsend does intend to run for re-election next spring. He welcomes any communications through either email at email@example.com or via phone at 816-348-3737.