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Olathe Council At-Large

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    Kevin P. Gilmore
    (N)

  • Candidate picture

    Dean Vakas
    (N)

Biographical Information

What do you believe are the three critical projects or initiatives that will move your city/district forward?

What skills, expertise, experience, or competencies qualify you for this position?

How will you address diversity issues in your city?

What specific actions should your city take or continue to insure affordable housing is available?

What do you believe is the ideal relationship between your city and the state government?

Do you support tax incentives in order to bring business to your city?

Personal Biography Currently representing Ward 3, I have been an Olathe resident since 1979; Served 12 years in prior elected office; Director of Pensions and Benefits for the Church of the Nazarene, serving 17,000 active/retired pastors and church staff in the US; Professional experience includes practicing CPA; CFO in private industry; Active in leadership roles in numerous civic and charitable community organizations. Married to Julie for 39 years; 3 sons; 3 daughters-in-law; and 5 grandchildren.
Campaign Phone (913) 768-8285
Campaign Web Site http://votegilmore.com
Education BA in Accounting MA in Organizational Administration/Leadership
Community/Public Service Olathe City Council (Ward 3) – Appointed October 2020; Olathe School Board (2003-11) - President (2 years); Kansas State Board of Education (1995-99) – Chairman (2 years); Olathe Santa Fe Trail Rotary Club (Treasurer; past President); Olathe Chamber of Commerce Board (past President); Community Prayer Breakfast Committee; Mercy Foundation f/k/a Shepherd’s Care Ministries (Treasurer); College Church of the Nazarene (Treasurer); MidAmerica Nazarene University Foundation (Treasurer); Citizens for Excellence in Olathe Schools (Treasurer); Johnson County Infrastructure Advisory Committee; Republican Precinct Committeeman (previous service); Republican Party Caucus Site Chair (2012 and 2016)
• Quality of Life and Services – highest in importance and satisfaction in community surveys and must remain a focus when making plans, establishing policy and in decision-making. • Infrastructure – Significant importance to our quality of life. We are a growing community challenged with the need to maintain/replace existing infrastructure while addressing needs for growth, including, but not limited to, streets, parks, community facilities and public utilities. Continued focus on traffic flow and congestion management must remain a high priority in this process. • Fiscal Responsibility – Taxpayers are not an unlimited source of funding. We must continually evaluate available revenues to meet the demands of our growing community - balanced by a reasonable tax structure. I support maintaining a stable property tax mill levy to allow the City to generate additional revenue for growth.
• My educational background includes a BA in Accounting and an MA in Organizational Administration/Leadership. I began my professional career as a practicing CPA and then as a Chief Financial Officer across a diverse set of industries. • I was appointed by the City Council to fill the Ward 3 vacancy and have been serving in that role since November 2020. I have previously served twelve years in elected office; four as a member of the Kansas State Board of Education, where I served as Chairman for two years; and eight years on the Olathe School Board where I also served two years as President. • I have a demonstrated record of leading and working with others in our community to develop a path forward that is beneficial to all.
I am grateful to be part of a community with a storied history of diversity including; The fight over slavery when Olathe abolitionists and Union soldiers were attacked by Quantrill’s troops; Our cemetery - integrated since its founding over 150 years ago; First city in the region to implement an anti-discrimination ordinance and create a Human Relations Commission (HRC); Home to the historic 2nd Baptist Church since its founding in 1870; The only recognized city with a Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board (PWDAB) that advocates for and celebrates those with disabilities; Our annual MLK celebration continues to be one of the largest in the region; Led by our HRC and PWDAB, our annual community awards bring focus to the value of diversity in our City; We should never stop learning, growing, and understanding the importance of providing equal opportunities to all those who choose to call Olathe home, be employed here, or visit our community.
• First is the continuation of our current housing programs which include City-owned properties and the administration of federal affordable housing programs. • The Council needs to formally evaluate the results of the 2020 Jo Co Community Housing Study. The Study indicates that “a healthy, self-sustaining housing market will have a value to income ratio between 2 and 3. Olathe’s is 2.63, up from 2.57 in 2010.” Based on recent market factors it appears there is upward pressure on this index, which provides basis for how this report needs further review, analysis and study by the City to determine the potential for one or more pathways to help bring about more affordable/attainable housing in our community, and I support these efforts.
• The foundation of the ideal relationship begins with clear channels of communication between City representatives, our area Legislators, and the members of our State’s executive branch, about issues of importance to our City. • I support the concept of home rule which allows for most decision-making to be made at the local level whenever possible. A local city council can act with more efficiency and responsiveness to our community members than state government, and that includes the reality that we meet regularly throughout the year.
• Yes. I recognize that tax incentives are controversial to some, but I believe they have been used strategically and effectively in our community to help accelerate growth in our economic base not only through the improvement of property but in the creation of jobs and increased sales taxes. Before the Council approves such a request, an analysis is provided to demonstrate the expected economic and financial advantages to our community. • I support our City Council’s recent request for a review of our tax incentive programs to evaluate their efficacy and determine if any adjustments need to be made to our programs/policies.
Personal Biography I am the son of Greek immigrants, my father a WWII veteran and my mother an elementary teacher, so service to others is at the core of who I am. I am also proud to be a born and raised Kansan. I served my country in the United States Army for 30 years. Upon retiring from active duty in 2006, my wife and I settled down in Olathe. For the last 15 years, we have committed ourselves to supporting the good life here in Olathe.
Campaign Phone (913) 390-3399
Campaign Email info@vakasforolathe.com
Campaign Web Site http://vakasforolathe.com
Education Master of Public Administration, Kansas University, Lawrence, Kansas Master of Business Administration, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York Master of Science, Strategic Resource Management, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Washington D.C. Master of Military Art and Science, U.S. Army Command & General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Bachelor of Science, Sociology and Political Science, Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas U.S. Army Comptrollership Program, Syracuse New York
Community/Public Service CURRENT: Chair, City of Olathe Planning Commission Member, American Planning Association Member, Olathe Chamber of Commerce Member, Johnson County Housing for All Task Force Member, Saint Dionysios Greek Orthodox Church Member, Veterans Community Project Honor Corps Member, VFW, affiliated with Post 852 Member, Society of the 1st Infantry Division PAST: President, Olathe Citizens Association Board Member, City of Olathe Library System Member, Olathe 2040 Future Ready Community Advisory Committee Kansas President, National Defense Transportation Association Board Member, Johnson County Animal Response Team Johnson County Citizens Academy, 2020 Leadership Olathe, Class of 2008 Member, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Heartland Roundtable Education Committee Chair President, Cedar Creek Homes Association, Olathe, Kansas
My first critical project is responsibly managing the five-year CIP (capital improvement project) list of significant new infrastructure. The right priorities must be established and available funding must be leveraged allowing for maximum construction potential and best value. The second is a long overdue focus on creating a vibrant city center where people can live, work, and play. The new county courthouse, the under-construction Arnelo apartment complex, the soon-to-be constructed downtown library, and the new county square demand multiple additional new mixed use buildings and apartments to create a downtown that is highly attractive to Olatheans of all ages. The third project is a comprehensive, multi-year plan to address the residential housing surrounding downtown Olathe because these areas preclude central Olathe from ever reaching its fullest present potential. This effort will require political will and collaboration with all stakeholders, including current residents.
I have a 45-year record of public service, including 30 years in the military. My Army career centered on large-scale logistics operations and managing multi-million dollar budgets, which translates well to service in municipal government. Specific to Olathe, I’ve been President of the Olathe Citizens Association for Quality Streets, on the Olathe Library Board, and on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the city’s newly adopted strategic plan. I have also chaired the Olathe Planning Commission for the last five years, having been appointed by the late Mayor Mike Copeland. I have a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. The MPA is from KU, a #1 nationally rated program for its quality of municipal government education. Olathe’s FY 2022 budget will exceed $450 million. I can manage an organization of this scale because I know how municipal government is supposed to work in support of all residents and the local business community.
Olathe’s diversity is a mark of strength. Diversity is something to celebrate. As a city councilor at-large, my responsibility is to represent all Olatheans and to ensure every voice is and feels heard and understood. I will champion and defend diversity. I am committed to bringing people together for our common good. Whatever differences we may have, we certainly have more in common. However, recognizing the issues that stem from a lack of equity and equality is key to ensuring all are treated with dignity and respect.
Much can be done to encourage the development of accessible and attainable housing. Here are some examples. Zoning practices and the UDO (uniform development ordinance) should be modified to allow reduced lot sizes, thereby lowering the cost of land. The city collects various fees from builders tied to the construction of new homes. Many of these fees can be waived to help reduce the cost of homes. Tax abatements can be offered in association with the construction of apartment buildings, enabling the building owners to offer lower rents. Finally, public/private partnerships should be considered and used based on a sound business case. I possess a willingness to lead, a commitment to have difficult and often avoided conversations, and an earnestness to work toward solutions.
I believe strongly in the right of Home Rule. Elected Olathe leadership, in concert with the input of residents, knows best when it comes to decisions that impact the city. This includes setting levels of city services and taxation. With that level of local autonomy in mind, the relationship between the city and state should be one of mutual respect and collaboration. Certainly, elected state leaders should routinely solicit input from city leaders as they seek to set state priorities. I also recognize the state does have a role to play in establishing local municipal government debt levels as a part of the processes of ensuring sound fiscal practices.
Yes. Good economic development translates to increasing wealth and new opportunities throughout the city. Economic development is the means for creating a prosperous and sustainable city that all can enjoy. So, incentives do have their place in the economic development process. However, they are not automatic and should be used selectively and judiciously. There must be a clearly understood business case with a return-on-investment based on solid math versus speculation. The process for giving incentives should be transparent and defensible in the eyes of the public.