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Overland Park Council Ward 5

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    Sam Passer

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    Sheila Rodriguez

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 Technology operations executive for a fast growing software company. Parent of two Blue Valley students with extensive community involvement .
Campaign Phone (913) 523-3156
Campaign Email
Campaign Web Site
Education BA - Drake University
Community/Public Service Leadership Overland Park, State of Kansas Sites Board of Review, HOA Events Committee, Habitat for Humanity, Harvesters
1.Public Safety - One of the most important elements of any community is living in a safe environment. Our first responders have been a tremendous asset for Overland Park, and I’ll ensure it stays that way. 2. Quality of Life - Continue to make a high quality of life for our residents a top priority with transparency, inclusion, and community assets 3. Infrastructure - Invest in infrastructure projects and ongoing maintenance which keep the city moving forward.
I have an appreciation for the amenities that make Overland Park a great place to live. I will keep this respect for our city front and center as decisions are made. Secondly, in my professional life, I've led teams that have over 200 people and several million dollar budgets. I can drive efficiencies in our government and know how to quickly drive decisions. Lastly, I pride myself on being a strong communicator and as a city council member - that's a key part of the job. There is so much misinformation that's spread these days - sometimes people just need to sit down and talk and understand a situation before rushing to judgement. I've had numerous conversations while going door to door in Ward 5 that begin with someone telling me why they're absolutely against something and wanting to make sure I felt the same way... typically I ask why they're against the item and we have a fact based conversation and reach a common understanding. That civility is so important for our future.
I believe in diversity through inclusion. By recruiting and ensuring there's a diverse representation on committees and with individuals who are active within the city, multiple perspectives can be taken into consideration which will address any concerns that are related to not having enough diversity.
I strongly believe that any professional who wants to work in Overland Park should have an option to live in Overland Park. I think a good benchmark is looking at the salary for a new teacher or a new police officer and then evaluate what type of housing options are available. I know a certain segment of this community is very anti-apartment, but I believe that apartments can be one form of affordable housing (and the percentage of apartments to single family homes is the same today as it has been historically since OP was founded and has remained relatively consistent throughout the city’s existence). As residents want to own their homes, I do believe that zoning is an effective tool that can be used to help drive more affordable housing options.
As the second largest city in the state, there's a symbiotic relationship where the Overland Park economy can drive some improvements for the state as we bring new jobs and growth to the region. Ideally there's local control which helps Overland Park make the decisions that are critical to our future and the state is able to provide a supportive role that's reciprocated when there are opportunities to collaborate.
I’ve reviewed many of the tax incentives that Overland Park has used over the past several years and have found that most investments have paid off - I believe the facts prove out that these incentives have truly been investments and not giveaways. For instance, the city may give property tax incentives that produce increased sales tax so the net impact was positive for the city. Additionally, in these incentive contracts, the city protects us, as taxpayers, so we're never at risk if the company doesn't meet its job or growth projections. In the few cases when companies haven't hit their promised targets, those companies repaid incentives through clawback provisions the City required. I believe it would be a mistake to swear off offering incentives to attract new business. I am in favor of continuing to review incentives that have been offered, analyze the return on those investments, holding those who have received incentives to live up to what they agreed to deliver.
Personal Biography Sheila has been a resident of Overland Park since 1996. She and her husband have raised two children here, both of whom graduated from Blue Valley North High School. She's has been an active member of the community for more than 25 years and is passionate about preserving Overland Park as an outstanding suburb to raise a family.
Campaign Phone (913) 226-3375
Campaign Email
Campaign Web Site
Community/Public Service Sheila has served as a board member of the Lexington Park Homes Association for more than 15 years and a chairman of various neighborhood committees over the years. ​Sheila volunteered extensively in the Blue Valley School District from the time her kids started kindergarten until well after they graduated from high school. Her passion for providing Blue Valley families with an exceptional public school experience fueled her energy to serve multi-year terms as Yearbook Chairman/Editor, Community Service Committee Chairman, Project Graduation Chairman and on numerous committees. She even continued chairing Project Graduation for seniors after her kid's had graduated until the role could be transitioned to a new chairman. Sheila's non-profit experience includes working with and chairing the largest fundraising event each year for Keep the Spark Alive, a local organization determined to prevent teen suicide by developing and funding innovative programs and initiatives and supporting those left behind in the aftermath of suicide. Additionally, Sheila has volunteered as a House Captain for Christmas in October and coordinated multiple community service projects throughout OP with business colleagues. She is also a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award from The Rotary Foundation.
What Overland Park needs most is a willingness to listen to residents, be responsive to concerns, restore trust in our city’s leadership and foster stronger collaboration amongst Councilmembers, City Staff and Committees. Focus on: 1) RE-INVEST TAXES LOCALLY: Preserve OP as an exceptional place to live by re-investing in public amenities/services. We need high quality neighborhood streets (eliminate chip seal), sidewalks, schools, parks, bike trails and first responders to meet the high expectations of our citizens, business owners, and visitors. 2) TRANSPARENCY: Residents are looking for transparency and accountability as to how their tax dollars are being spent. Knowing that the City Council is making informed and prudent decisions strengthens their confidence and trust. 3) COMMUNICATION: Open a two-way line of communication between councilmembers and his/her constituents and actively seek input. No resident should be surprised of any major issue(s) City Council is voting on.
I look forward to bringing my 25+ years of professional experience and extensive involvement within our community to this position. I've led multi-departmental cross-functional teams and fostered strong collaboration efforts to launch new products/programs on aggressive timelines, I've written RFIs/RFPs for products and services, I've negotiated contracts with airport authorities and other municipalities, I've hired subcontractors, I've held a senior leadership position in a start-up business and held senior positions with a large telecommunications company for nearly 20 years. I understand the value of hard work and the importance of public service. I’ve consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic in everything I do. Whether I’m serving in a leadership role in my company, on our HOA Board of Directors, as a PTO committee chairman, or as a committee member on a community project, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Simply put, head-on. I’d like to see the city seek input from its residents and integrate many different types of public space uses, as well as elements that bring people together, into our plans and designs. We should create public spaces where we can increase social diversity. Addressing social issues such as awareness, affordability, cultural representation, safety, and understanding all play into whether or not people will choose to use public spaces.

We should also promote and celebrate diversity in our neighborhoods. The quality of our neighborhoods is essential to the well-being of children and families. Everyone should feel welcomed and included. As a result, I'd like to see the city renew their "block party grant" program which encouraged neighborhoods to get to know its residents and provided funding to do so once a year.
Affordable housing options ensures a city is welcoming to a diverse population. We should discontinue providing tax incentives to commercial developers to build more luxury apartment complexes. Alternatively, I would support zoning changes to facilitate building a greater variety of single-family homes, patio homes and/or townhomes within our community. We have a higher demand for more neighborhoods with single-family homes than we have for more luxury apartments.

I also think it’s important we explore any creative solution(s) which would increase the availability of affordable housing options for young adults who just graduated from college, as well as residents with a fixed or lower income. I'd like to seek input from residents and explore with developers whether it’s possible to transform large, existing, vacant complexes/properties into a new housing type. I'd rather see a property repurposed, than to sit vacant year over year (i.e., Wright Career College at I-435 and Metcalf)
In a perfect world, there is a strong partnership between the city and state government by collaborating, complementing and supporting each other. It’s important that the foundation of that partnership be based on open and transparent communication, trust, respect, an eagerness to listen to one another and weigh differing opinions. State government should respect and trust our city's governing body enough to allow them to make decisions at a local level and do what's in our best interest. Decisions regarding policies and use of our taxes should be made by our city officials, not state officials.

City and state officials should be held accountable for supporting the people who elected them and be their voice. Alignment of common goals and objectives for the betterment of Overland Park is crucial to ensure our city continues to thrive.
I want to preserve OP and ensure it's an exceptional city that residents are proud of. I believe the over-abundance of new commercial development is beginning to erode the quality of life for residents and the over-abundance of tax incentives provided to commercial developers has negatively impacted our budget.

I believe in balanced development; however, reinvesting in public amenities should be our FIRST priority. OP is clearly attractive to new and expanding businesses. I believe most commercial development will happen organically & without the gift of a tax incentive. I'm not against tax incentives if they are part of a larger strategic plan to revitalize an area of the city that needs revitalization, but I am against giving away tax incentives to commercial developers on multi-million dollar developments when it's at the expense of our residents and basic needs. There should be sufficient budget to afford higher quality streets/sidewalks or an additional traffic light if needed.