by Alan McArthur
Candidates for the Platte City Board of Aldermen will put their names in front of voters next Tuesday, April 8 in the annual municipal election.
The Landmark conducted interviews of the candidates in each of the races for Wards 1, 2, and 3.
The following is a brief summary of each candidate's thoughts on issues facing the city.
There are two people running for the Ward 1 Alderman position. Incumbent Marsha Clark said that being a resident of Platte City for more than 30 years and owning her own business make her qualified for the position.
"I have lived in Platte City for 30 years and been interested in city hall and watched what's happened," said Clark.
Clark said there are several issues that need to be improved in Platte City, including communication with citizens, improving infrastructure and improving the Main Street area.
Clark said she is against involuntary annexation.
"I'm not for involuntary annexation, rather have people be happy and not fight about it," said Clark. "I've heard someone's going to annex them and if it's between Kansas City and us, I'd think they'd want us."
Her challenger is Thomas Marquis. Marquis said he still doesn't think there are enough things for kids to do in Platte City.
"There is nothing for kids to do in Platte City," said Marquis. "If they're not old enough to drive, they don't have somewhere to go."
Marquis said he has brought up having the city build a skate park before. He said the city of Edgerton recently built a skate park for under $20,000.
On the issue of involuntary annexation, Marquis said it would be best to have voluntary annexation.
"If we can talk to people and convince them it's good, then we can get voluntary annexation," said Marquis. "When you live in the county you get the sheriff's department and can take 20 to 25 minutes to get a car to your house. We're lucky in Platte City to have a good police force."
"I'm not against (involuntary annexation) completely, it depends on the greater good of the public," said Marquis. "Kansas City is up to 120th Street and will eventually be up to 136th. Kansas City would be horrible for them, when you get too far out from the city you have the problem of getting good services."
Three people are running for the Ward 2 alderman seat after Kenneth Brown decided to not run again.
Tony Paolillo, Mike Walsh, and Ron Porter all filed for the position.
According to Paolillo, there are several things that need to be changed in city hall.
"I believe we need new leadership and to stop wasteful spending," said Paolillo. "We need to encourage commercial growth in Platte City. I am a small business owner and I know how to deal with people. The city is like a business, except you're not making a profit."
Paolillo said the main issue for Platte City is making sure city hall and commercial businesses begin cooperating.
"The main issue is that commercial businesses don't get along with city hall," said Paolillo. "I will make sure everyone is treated the same. If you are paying taxes in Platte City you should have a chance to speak you mind.”
Involuntary annexation is one thing Paolillo is not in favor of.
"Annexation is necessary for a city to grow, but I don't believe involuntary is the way to go," said Paolillo. "I don't think forcing it down someone's throat is the way to go."
Another candidate for the alderman position is Mike Walsh. Walsh said he thinks someone who is a regular citizen should be on the board.
"Change is going to happen," said Walsh. "I want to be a part of that change. I feel that a regular citizen should be part of the board. I've had some dealings in the past with the board and felt like I wasn't heard. I'm just a regular guy who wants to be heard."
For Walsh, the important issue is making the board more open.
"I've followed Platte City politics for six years," said Walsh. "I've seen mistakes of some members and I hope to correct some. Some people have gotten a bad taste in their mouth. I want people to feel comfortable coming to the board."
Walsh said Platte City should focus on what it has now rather than trying to use involuntary annexation.
"I am totally against involuntary annexation," said Walsh. "We have to take care of what we have now. I don't feel things are taken care of here yet. People should have a choice and should have the right to vote on annexation."
Candidate Ron Porter is also seeking the position.
"I think I would do a good job," said Porter. "We need to keep up with the CIP and need to build a shed for city equipment."
Porter is a former alderman who served when the city put forth an unsuccessful involuntary annexation effort. He has worked in construction and has been a policeman. He currently is an executive vice-president of a dog food company.
"I think we need to go back to the people and see what they say about it (involuntary annexation)," said Porter.
Two candidates are running as write-ins for the Ward 3 alderman position. Former alderman Jim Palmer and Debbie Kirkpatrick are running against each other. The two are running for the position which will be vacated by Aaron Jung.
Palmer served on the board from 1996 until spring 2007 when he was defeated by Todd Sloan.
"During this period a tremendous amount of improvements were accomplished through the city," said Palmer. "I have lived in the Platte City area all of my life and watched the area grow and prosper and become a city that one should be proud of."
Palmer said he is concerned about the way current aldermen have voted on certain issues recently.
"I am and have been extremely concerned over the last year about the decisions of the existing board and their seemingly lack of cooperation with one another and the actions in recent months to satisfy their egos and upset the orderly operation of day-to-day operation by city staff," said Jim Palmer.
Palmer said he would rather see voluntary annexation, but the city needs to annex either way.
"Platte City needs to annex," said Palmer. "People need to be in Platte City or they will be in Kansas City sooner or later. I'd like to see both voluntary and involuntary, but I'd rather see voluntary."
The other write-in candidate in Ward 3 is Debbie Kirkpatrick.
"I'm for local businesses," said Kirkpatrick. "I think the city is making a step forward to support businesses and I'd hate to see them step back. I think the council has done a good job and I'd like to see it continue."
According to Kirkpatrick, she is for businesses opening and wants to talk to citizens.
"I support any business opening in Platte City," said Kirkpatrick. "I am not one to step back; I like to get into issues. My main deal is I have lived in Platte City for 15 years and Mr. Jung was the first to knock on my door and ask how I felt about an issue."
Kirkpatrick said that people need to have a reason to be annexed into a city.
"I feel people have to have a reason to be annexed," said Kirkpatrick. "They have to have an amenity and right now Platte City does not have that. We have to make them feel like they need to be annexed."