Every incumbent alderman has opposition in April
by Stacy Wiedmaier and Ivan Foley
With the city election now less than three weeks away, candidates for the Platte City Board of Aldermen are positioning themselves for what could be a short but interesting campaign. The election will be Tuesday, April 3.
The Landmark in recent days has solicited the positions of the candidates in each of the three races in Wards 1, 2 and 3.
Following is a synopsis of each candidates' thoughts on city hall in particular and the city in general.
The Platte City Board of Aldermen race for Ward 1 has three individuals vying for the seat.
Incumbent Lee Roy Van Lew said he has used his experience in highway sewer and street improvements to better the community.
“I spent all my working life in the road and sewer departments as a supervisor for a construction company,” said Van Lew, 73.
“I want to continue the advancement of the city by making more park improvements and finishing the Community Improvement Project (CIP.) My goals in general are to see this city advance.”
Part of that necessary advancement, in Van Lew’s eyes, includes continuing the involuntary annexation proposal in the future.
“I was all for it the whole summer throughout that process,” he said. “It’s my opinion that the city cannot advance without some type of annexation action.”
Van Lew is married with four grown children. When asked why he is the best candidate, he said he doesn't "feel like I am any better than anyone else.”
Sixty-six year old Thomas Marquis retired from the Kansas City Police Department after 27 years, later working for the Platte City Police Department as a sergeant where he retired in 2004. He is now the department chief in Edgerton. He resides in Platte City near his three sons.
Marquis said it is time for a change on the board.
“We need a fresh voice and something different,” Marquis said. “We need to keep building amenities such as improving the local parks and adding more things for the juveniles such as a possible skate park or basketball courts. I am in favor of proceeding with the annexation issues in a more non-aggressive way. They went about it with the wrong attitude.”
Marquis said he would like to see the east side of I-29 developed into a housing addition. He said the city and board of aldermen have been fighting over building these 600 homes for four years.
“The City of Kansas City will eventually take that area and surround us if we don’t step up and start developing it,” said Marquis. “The board needs to work harder to pass the annexation vote. Explaining to those opposing this action can help them better understand the benefits involved. The education aspect needs to be focused on more than it was in the past.”
The third candidate in Ward 1, Ronald Stone, manages the Casey’s General Store and is married without children.
He said his approach is different from the others since he is new at running for public office.
“I have never run for anything before, but I have common sense that has gotten me where I am today,” said Stone, 40. “I’ve lived here for 17 years and I’m ready to become more involved in the community. I’m open to new ideas, but I’m still able to listen to others' viewpoints.”
Stone said he is not an expert on the annexation issues, but feels there should have been a friendlier approach by the board to help residents understand their reasoning.
“There needs to be more open government around here,” he said. “I want to see city hall become more people friendly. There has been a lot of financial spending on the city’s part lately. I want to change that and make a difference.”
The Ward 2 Alderman race originally involved three men, but one candidate this week told The Landmark he is dropping out.
Tony Paolillo says business commitments would keep him from serving, had he been elected. Paolillo says he is throwing his support behind Andy Stanton, another candidate challenging Ward 2 incumbent George McClintock.
It is too late for Paolillo's name to come off the ballot, but he won't actively seek election.
"My business has just been notified of a large out-of-town contract for which I am a finalist. Should my company receive this contract, I would not be able to serve the people of the ward with the devotion and dedication they would deserve.
"I met with Andy Stanton and believe he would be a nice new voice for our city. I would appreciate your support of Andy Stanton for Ward 2 alderman," Paolillo told The Landmark.
McClintock has served on the board for five years. McClintock, 69, has been married 38 years and has two children. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Business from Washburn University in Topeka. He said he has something to offer that his opponents do not: experience.
“We’re all good candidates to work in city government, but I have experience and background serving on this board,” he said. “I have served two separate terms and taken an active role in many important issues.”
McClintock said his focus has been on completing the Community Improvement Project (CIP) and designing the city’s flag. He has served as the presiding member on the planning and zoning board as well as working to secure the city hall building by requesting security updates. He said city growth is important, and his plan includes the annexation proposal.
“I would certainly prefer to see voluntary annexation, but we need to grow all the same,” said McClintock. “If we don’t do something then we’ll be surrounded by Kansas City just like Platte Woods is right now. That would be unfortunate.”
First time candidate, 43-year-old Andy Stanton, owns Andy’s Foreign Cars, located on Main Street. He has been in business since 1990 and lived in Platte City since 1978. He has a six year old son.
Stanton said he feels a personal responsibility to run in this race after speaking to residents in his ward.
“I spoke to everyone about the current board and what actions my opponent, George McClintock, has taken,” said Stanton.
“I’ve heard some complaints about what he voted for or against. He (McClintock) has not been in town as long as I have. As for goals I have if I’m elected, I’ll have to wait until I get in there and see. But I’ll tell you one thing, I am a fiscal conservative.”
Stanton said he is against involuntary annexation in every aspect. He thinks it should be voluntary, if at all, for residents to decide for themselves whether to be involved.
“I’m just against the way they went about it,” he said. “No one I know agrees with them or wants any part of it. You should definitely never try to force something on people that they don’t want.”
Incumbent Jim Palmer has served as an alderman for 12 years. He is facing only one opponent in the race, newcomer Todd Sloan, who is self-employed as a real estate investor.
Sloan, 41, is a fourth generation Platte City resident where he has lived for six years. Growing up in Kansas City, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in anthropology from the University of Kansas. He said it’s vital to get the city’s priorities in line with what the citizens want.
“I’m not one of those career politicians,” said Sloan. “But I have good judgment and business sense. There’s a huge need for change and I believe the current board is misdirected. A non-politicians viewpoint is needed. I plan on matching this need with my skill set. I very much believe in giving back. I want to make sure the city’s current needs are met before we deal with the issues of trying to expand our territory. I would like to work on the downtown area’s renovation and revitalization.”
Sloan has been an active member on the planning and zoning board and said he disagrees with the board’s approach to the annexation issue.
“I think everyone is looking for a reactionary candidate to be against the annexation proposal, but that’s not why I got in the race,” said Sloan. “It just isn’t our community’s priority right now. I agree that expansion is part of our future, but all the controversy stemmed from the board’s approach to it. There were not open discussions and they not only need to change the process, but decide to scrap their old plan and start over. The city needs to work hand in hand with the residents and start a serious discussion," he added.
"Working together to craft a mutually beneficial plan is the only way to do it. When you decide, then that’s the plan you take to the voters,” Sloan remarked.
Palmer, 75, is married with five children. He is retired from TWA and as an auctioneer. He has resided in Platte City his entire life.
Palmer said he has “accomplished quite a bit,” while serving on the board, including being instrumental in the start-up of the Platte Valley Plaza commercial district and the Community Improvement Project (CIP.)
“I have experience and you can’t take that away from nobody,” he said. “I have been through three mayors and three city administrators in my time. One of my goals includes getting more land for development. Voluntary annexation would be ideal, but if not, then we’ll have to go the other way. I do think it’ll happen.”