Jim is married to Wendy. They have lived in Overland Park for 24 years, where they raised their three children. Jim has been a Sprint employee (Now T-Mobile) for 36 years. Wendy has been a classroom teacher in SMSD for over 20 years. The three children are all grown now, with two of them being married. Jim and Wendy are blessed with two grandsons.
Jim received a BBA from The University of Texas at Austin and a MBA from The University of Texas at Tyler.
* Served on a ministry team at JOCO corrections that will start back up after Covid.
* City of Overland Park Environmental Advisory Council
* Officer in Father's Connection team at SM South High School
* Member at Colonial Presbyterian Church
The Forward O.P. initiative and the city’s biannual surveys show that the public continues to place high value upon public safety and local infrastructure. As we chart a course into the next ten years, I believe the putting in place of the recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force, including the creation of a Mental Health Behavioral Unit to assist the police with the growing number of mental health related calls, will free officers for more crime specific duties. I also believe the investment in the Infrastructure Advisory Group’s effort to evaluate and establish best practices for street maintenance, storm water and green infrastructure will help us maintain the facilities our residents rely upon every day. Finally, expansion of fire services, including consolidation with rural service and establishment of Station #8, which will enable Advanced Life Support Services in the more rural areas on the city’s southern fringe need to be finalized and brought online.
As an eight-year veteran of the City Council and having served on all four of the standing committees during that time, and as chair of the Public Works Committee for two years, I believe foremost, that I bring experience and an appreciation for how the process of governance should be carried out. My 35 years in the telecom industry include Finance, Procurement, Public Affairs and Project Management experience. I’ve called upon the business skills I acquired in each of these disciplines during my tenure with the Overland Park City Council. We’re asked regularly to use such business skills to manage the people’s business.
The Forward O.P. Vision pointed out that our residents want our city to be “a Welcoming Place.” I support the recommendations of this broad-based citizen body that recommend a establishing a diversity / inclusion plan to guide citizen engagement and exploring the use of a cultural understanding framework that, as the Forward O.P. Vision pointed out, “…facilitates events and discussions to celebrate, educate, and engage residents and visitors from all different backgrounds and ethnicities.”
Our city government has undertaken a multi-year initiative to redevelop the most northern parts of the city, helping surrounding neighborhoods see further reinvestment. Such initiatives help make the more affordable housing more desirable as well. In addition, mixed use developments, and enhanced small scale development will create avenues for residents that don’t choose standard single-family homes. The Rental Licensing Program initiated four years ago, also serves to make the existing more affordable housing, more livable by maintaining code standards.
Obviously, cooperation among all levels of government is key. As a city chartered in the state of Kansas, we look to the Governor and Legislature of Kansas for leadership in a number of the social and human issues that affect our community, but cities have limited authority or means to engage in those issues. Having a cooperative relationship, however, does not mean the city should surrender its rights and authority established under Home Rule.
I have been a proponent of measured used of state authorized tax incentive tools for the revitalization the northern part of Overland Park and establishment of unique developments like the youth athletics complex at 159th street and the surrounding retail on that site. The dramatic redevelopment of Downtown Overland Park, in the northern portion of the city, would not have happened on a scale even close to what is there today, without the cooperative nature created by such public – private partnerships. Not all developments are worthy of this type of participation however, and I always have the right to vote “No,” and have in such cases.
I’m an educator sharing life with my husband and daughter. I attended Wellesley College where I majored in Spanish and Sociology. Upon graduation I took a job as a 5th grade bilingual teacher in Austin, TX before eventually returning to Boston. For six years I worked as an English Immersion teacher in Chelsea, MA. I came to Kansas City and met my husband. Currently I serve as the director of the El Centro Academy for Children, a Spanish/English dual-language preschool.
B.A. in Spanish & Sociology from Wellesley College; M.Ed. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from KU
Johnson County Library Foundation Board, Overland Park CDBG Advisory Committee, Latina Giving Circle steering committee, LWV member (DEI committee member), Former Rosedale Development Association board member, Former volunteer advocate for domestic violence hotline, Former co-secretary of the Wellesley Alumnae Association Class Executive Board,
Completed Kansas Leadership Center courses and contributed to their magazine, The Journal.
One is to increase intentional work engaging and representing the true diversity of our city. This includes continuing to support the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. ForwardOP includes “Welcoming” as an initiative area. An action step is to “Create and implement a diversity inclusion plan for future leaders.” More attention is needed in this area.
As OP updates their comprehensive plan, attention should be given to who, how, and when stakeholders participate in opportunities to learn and contribute to the process. We can work to engage all voices, including the unusual ones, in this project. Opportunities to engage should be accessible to all community members.
OP is a leader in taking action to address climate change. This work must continue and expand so that Overland Park maintains its status as a desirable place to live, learn, work, and play. The city should continue to work with partners such as Climate Action KC and MARC to implement needed changes.
I have had 20 years in service to others as an educator and would be honored to continue serving a community I care deeply about.
I have lived in and served diverse communities and each has helped me learn how to best respect, value, protect and work with people from many backgrounds. School leaders must bring various groups together to work collaboratively for the common goal of serving the children in their schools. I have used this experience in my volunteer service on boards and committees. It allows me to find common ground and also work through difficult decisions.
As a school leader I also have experience with managing budgets, operations/facilities, and human resources. My many experiences as a volunteer have also prepared me for this role. I volunteer, because I believe strongly in the importance of civic engagement. Over the years the experiences have taught me the importance of listening, problem-solving, strategizing, planning, and conflict-resolution.
Diversity is a focus of my campaign. Our communities and experiences are richer when we celebrate diversity and intentionally welcome different perspectives. I think our city council should reflect our community. I will work to welcome, engage, and equip all voices by asking the hard questions, speaking up when individuals or groups are excluded, advocating for new ways of thinking, and challenging our city government to keep moving forward.
UCS recently released a comprehensive report on housing in Johnson County that included the creation of a Housing ToolKit. We must use this as a reference and guide for discussions and decisions. The report draws attention to the fact that affordable housing does not need to include only new apartment buildings. Often, these apartment buildings are still unaffordable for many residents. It describes other options for housing. Overland Park is taking steps towards implementing some of these other options and that work should continue. Examples include redeveloping former hotels into housing. Other non-apartment options should be encouraged and given the support needed for development.
Although Home Rule should guide the relationship between city and state government, every effort should be made to work collaboratively whenever possible and in the best interest of our residents.
Tax incentives are necessary for development and the continued success of our city. However, these incentives are an investment, and government must make sure that investments made with citizens’ taxes are wise and will provide a strong return on that investment. Incentive-supported projects need to contribute positively to the overall development of the community, and not all of them should be approved. We need more transparency throughout the process, before and after incentive-supported development. The City needs to actively engage its citizens on these matters during the approval process as well as in the ongoing evaluation of projects. The City should make publicly available information on how incentives are being used and what kinds of returns these projects are delivering for residents.