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Fairway Council Ward 3

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    Susan A. Leonard

  • David Watkins

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 Experienced educational professional with nearly 25 years of diverse achievements in urban, suburban, public and private K-12 school settings. Personal: Married to KC native Matt Leonard for 21 years, who I met while attending the University of Kansas. We now make our home in Fairway, KS with our two children, CJ (16) and Maggie (15).
Campaign Phone (816) 695-7060
Campaign Web Site
Education BS in Education, KU 1996 MA in Educational Administration, UMKC 2000 PHD in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, KU 2007
Community/Public Service Kansas School Mental Health Advisory Council, 2017 - 2019 Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium (KC-AERC) Steering Committee, 2013 - 2016 KU Alumni Network - Kansas City Chapter Board Member 2014 - 2020 Kauffman Foundation 2007 ○ Coordinated local efforts to identify under-represented minority qualifiers for the Duke Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP).
Fairway has upcoming major development projects and the Council's oversight of the plans for these is important to ensure alignment with our city's values and priorities.

It is especially important in the City of Trees to be sure to consider maintenance of our beautiful city. We need sound long range plans that also allow for improvements, sustainability, and quick and effective responses to damages caused by severe storms.

We must continually consider ways to ensure our city is a place where all people feel welcomed, valued, respected and safe.
I have considerable experience in educational leadership and community building. I am skilled at developing relationships, listening and understanding and problem solving.
It is important to look to your city's leadership and who they are reaching regularly (active patrons) and to then seek out those voices that are not naturally being included or represented. Everyone must feel that they belong and that their input matters and we must find ways to engage all of our citizens in the ways that work best for them (not us).

Fairway has somewhat limited ability to affect the costs of housing, but wherever new residential property is added it is important to consider how we can be sure to offer a variety of income levels access to live in our city.
I believe city and state government should work to support each other. The city must represent the needs of its community, while also understanding its place in the overall state. When our state (and nation) are facing a common challenge like a health crisis we must support one another in our effort to maintain safety for all. There are times we must be unified, and there are times where our needs and desired outcomes are different.
I have not seen evidence that leads me to believe or endorse using tax incentives to bring business to Fairway, KS.
Personal Biography My wife and I have lived in Fairway's Ward 3 for 33 years and we have raised our three children here.
Campaign Phone (816) 410-4666
Education University of Kansas (B.S. in Business Administration in 1981); University of Kansas (J.D. in 1984)
Community/Public Service Fairway City Council (8 years; current Council President - 4 years; current Administration Committee chair; Comprehensive Plan Committee; Council liaison to the Planning Commission zoning subcommittee); Reinhardt Estates Homes Association (past President); ALS Association Mid-America Chapter (director for 36 years and past President; national board of representatives member); Prairie Elementary Excellence in Education Fund (past President); Pembroke Hill Alumni Association (past President); St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (Usher Captain); Children's Mercy Hospital (Planned Giving Council)
Fairway is in a very good position as we have accomplished a lot in the last 8 years. We have excellent City services, strong property values and we have not increased our tax rate for 6 years. Looking forward Fairway needs to proactively plan for major infrastructure needs that may arise in the next few years, including the possible renovation/replacement of our storm water system, as well as right of way tree removal and replacement as our beautiful trees are showing their age at an increasing pace. We also need to try to increase the number of streets we re-surface each year to offset the increased wear and tear being caused by more and more heavy trucks using them.
One of the greatest assets that I bring to the Fairway City Council is my eight years of experience on it, including serving as President for the last 4 years. My prior involvement with the Homes Association has also provided me with a great base of knowledge regarding our community. My skills and training as an attorney have been very helpful and critical to the City given the many complex legal issues and contracts that we are required to evaluate on a regular basis. In the private sector much of my work involves the evaluation and analysis of financial information, which has proven very beneficial with regard to Fairway's budgeting process and our sound fiscal management policies.
Fairway has long been and I strongly believe will continue to be an open, welcoming and inclusive community, as evidenced by our recently adopted non-discrimination ordinance of which I was the principal author. It is important that elected officials listen to the voices of all their constituents, even those who have differing opinions or come from different backgrounds. Our residents, elected officials and staff represent a diverse range of viewpoints and opinions which benefits the Council's decision making process.
Fairway is a small, fully developed and predominantly single family residential community. Providing affordable housing in such a context presents a great challenge. Given our circumstances and the single family residential character of Fairway, there are very few opportunities to provide affordable housing within Fairway. But we are currently addressing a proposed active adult apartment project in our office park area that may present an opportunity to include an affordable housing component within that project. The project also has the potential to expand the diversity of housing options available to Fairway residents at a cost that might be lower than home ownership.
Local elected officials should have the ultimate authority in decision making for their community, as they know their communities the best and should be trusted to make decisions that are best for their residents.
Fairway has a very small "business" footprint and thus we will have very few opportunities to bring new businesses to our city through the use of tax incentives. Having said that, we recently implemented a public policy relating to the provision of tax incentives for proposed developments in Fairway. Under this policy, which I support, we look at each proposal on a case by case basis to determine if the requested tax incentives will provide a positive overall result for the City without impairing its tax base. If the criteria set forth in the policy are met, then we should consider using tax incentives to achieve such a result. A great example of this is the redevelopment of the former Stroud's property. Through a well structured tax incentive agreement, we were able to eliminate a blighted building, potentially triple our tax revenues, provide a potential fund for infrastructure improvements, and we incentivized the developer to build the project in a sustainable manner.