Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Overland Park Council Ward 2

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    Melissa Cheatham

  • Candidate picture

    Roger Tarbutton

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 I am a mom, community advocate, and policymaker with experience solving problems at the federal, local and neighborhood levels. I love living in Overland Park, a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. As the primary author of the region’s Climate Action Playbook, a member of the city’s Environmental Advisory Council, and former Professional Staff for the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, I will work hard to incorporate sustainability in city decisionmaking.
Campaign Phone (913) 303-8809
Campaign Email
Campaign Web Site
Education B.A. in Political Science and Government from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Community/Public Service -Empire Estates Homes Association, Secretary -Trailwood Elementary PTA, Legislative Chair -Climate Action KC, Policy Committee Member -Overland Park Environmental Advisory Council, Secretary -Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City, Board Member -KC Scholars, Reviewer
1) Keep the City Working. Overland Park is ranked a top place to live and raise a family because things work well here. My top priority is to continue this excellence for our residents, who deserve reliable, high-quality municipal services.

2) Build for the future. Our city has set goals to be welcoming, forward-thinking, and innovative. These should be our criteria for encouraging growth.

3) Invest in environmentally and fiscally sustainable options. Climate solutions such as better buildings, active transportation infrastructure, tree planting and stormwater design also make us healthier, improve our fiscal position, and improve our quality of life.
I’m deeply committed to this place where I’ve chosen to raise my family. That commitment, paired with my experience making policy and solving problems at the local, city and federal level make me the leader Overland Park needs. My work at a national environmental advocacy group and as Professional Staff for a congressional committee have equipped me to research and understand issues in detail, to find creative solutions, and to advocate for my position while making reasonable compromises that move us forward. I’ve already been tenacious making change in my city: getting sidewalk ramps and a crosswalk marked so parents with strollers can safely get to the neighborhood park, bringing two jurisdictions together to hire a crossing guard that allows kids to walk to school, enacting a neighborhood trash program with my homes association, successfully pushing for the most energy efficient building code in the county, and literally writing the Climate Action Playbook for our region.
I heartily embrace the ForwardOP vision to be a welcoming community. I celebrate diversity as making life more interesting and making organizations more successful. I think the best way to address diversity issues is to have diverse perspectives and life experiences represented in decision making. I have actively encouraged and invited individuals with diverse experiences to run for office and to join city boards and commissions. I would prioritize the solutions that impacted groups put forward.

I have a record of working to make our community more welcoming. I was a strong advocate for the city’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance to protect the rights of our LGBTQ neighbors. I also launched a district-wide Diverse Books Drive that resulted in books featuring diverse characters and authors being collected and donated to every school library in my community.
My husband and I chose Overland Park as the place we wanted to raise our family in part because it offered affordable housing for us. When we settled here, I had just quit my job in order to be a stay-at-home mom and he had taken a substantial pay cut in order to start his own business. Despite our reduced income, we could still find an affordable home. Today, a family in a similar position would likely struggle to find a home because prices have climbed so dramatically. Affordable housing isn’t just a low-income issue. We must tackle this to remain a welcoming community.

I was pleased to participate in the Housing For All Task Force that evaluated dozens of solutions, many of which I believe could be successful here. These include: changes in zoning; prioritizing incentives to encourage attainable homes; a community housing development organization; and energy efficient building codes. I also support investments that lower the cost of living by making car-free travel practical.
Local governments are closest to the people and should be able to innovate and make decisions for their communities without state interference. I do believe it is appropriate for state and federal governments to provide a floor to ensure the safety of all Americans. For example, I was glad that Overland Park could pass its own non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBTQ residents. However, if the state were to enact a nondiscrimination policy, I believe cities should not be able to opt out and leave people unprotected.
I support judicious use of public-private partnerships to encourage the highest quality projects that advance community goals, catalyze additional unsubsidized growth, and provide clear community benefits.

However, the council should not be a rubber stamp for every request from a developer. I have spoken in the past to raise concerns about incentive requests. For example, I have raised concerns about using incentives to give a face lift to an aging strip mall or build a traditional office tower instead of encouraging the mixed-use, walkable development that the city’s vision calls for. I would also support leading by example and requiring projects built with taxpayer funds to meet a higher environmental or energy efficiency standard than is required of privately-funded projects. I believe we should reserve incentives to encourage high quality development that advances the city’s visions.
Personal Biography Roger grew up in Johnson County and has lived in OP for over 20 years with his wife Ruth. He retired from Johnson County Government after 30 years service as legal counsel for various county departments including Johnson County Med-Act, Mental Health, and Wastewater. He has a daughter Sharon, son-in-law Chris and grandson Grayson.
Campaign Phone (913) 708-0702
Campaign Email
Campaign Web Site
Education Roger grew up in Johnson County and graduated from Shawnee Mission North, Baker University (B.A), Washburn Law School (J.D.) and has a Masters in Taxation from UMKC Law School.
Community/Public Service Roger currently serves on his HOA Board of Directors
Residents should be encouraged to participate and speak out at committee meetings as well as City Council Meetings. Many critical outcome determining decisions are made at the committee level.

The construction of high-rise apartments next to single family residential neighborhoods is generally incompatible and should be discouraged through strict application of the zoning codes.

Lower income and residents on fixed-incomes are being taxed out of their homes by double-digit real estate tax increases due to wasteful spending and erosion of the tax base. The Council's vote last fall to spend $350,000. covid-relief funds for the purchase and installation of a video streaming system at the youth soccer complex is a prime example of wasteful spending. Overuse of tax incentives erode the tax base and shift the tax burden from developers to individual homeowners.
I have 30 years of experience handling local government issues having worked as an attorney for various departments of Johnson County Government. These included Johnson County-Med Act, Johnson County Mental Health and Johnson County Wastewater. As their assigned counsel, I interacted with the public, other Johnson County staff and elected officials and negotiated and drafted numerous inter-governmental agreements with other cities and state governmental entities including KDOT. I also handled open record requests and some general litigation on behalf of my departments. I am the only candidate in this race who grew up in Johnson County and has this kind of in-depth local government experience.
In accordance with my oath of office, I will encourage and welcome diversity at all levels consistent with the individual rights and equal protections guaranteed to all by the constitutions of the State of Kansas and the United States.
The high cost of living in general and the scarcity of affordable housing in particular are issues for low-income residents and seniors living on fixed incomes. Contributing factors include a shortage of affordable housing, inflation, and wasteful government spending. Double-digit real estate tax increases threaten to force seniors on fixed incomes from home ownership. Overland Park’s zoning regulations already allow for the construction of higher density housing. Tax incentives should focus on the development of distressed property and lower-income housing options rather than luxury apartments.
Cities have a large degree of autonomy over local matters as a result of the Home Rule Statute. This is a good because city officials are generally more attuned to the will of their constituents than state officials on local issues. I think the ideal relationship between city and state governments should be one of cooperation to address common issues without bullying. With the assistance of local legislators, I think OP could have negotiated a better deal with KDOT for highway 69 without needing a toll lane.
OP is a great community and needs private development to promote employment and the private amenities we all enjoy. However, in recent years OP has overused tax incentives on greenfield projects such as for the development of high-rise luxury apartments and the massive Brookridge Golf Course Project for which approximately $600 million in tax incentives (including $200 million for the first phase alone) have been approved. Tax incentives can erode the tax base and require many years to pay off, if ever. To my knowledge, no serious follow-up studies are conducted to determine if tax incentivized projects ever pay off. Erosion of the tax base shifts the tax burden from developers to individual homeowners. Tax incentives should generally be reserved for projects such as the rehabilitation of distressed properties and development of low-income housing opportunities that would otherwise not be built.