In a light April election season, Platte City appears to have one of the more interesting races on the ballot, with veteran mayor Frank Offutt facing a challenge from the city’s park board in political newcomer Bobby Vann.
Offutt, 61, was first elected mayor in 1998 after time on the board of aldermen and other city commissions. He was unseated by Dave Brooks in 2002, but took back the mayor’s post in 2008 and has served since.
Married, and in management with the Platte City Special Road District and Public Water District No. 4, Offutt said he has been involved in public service since 1986 and wishes to continue that service.
“Everyone takes pride in their hometown and wants it to be successful,” Offutt said. “Platte City has been moving towards the goal of developing the east side of the Interstate 29 corridor for several decades. That effort is now being realized. My interest in continuing Platte City’s development is a core focus of my candidacy.”
Offutt points to cooperation and development of partnerships as key to the city’s successes and said many opportunities lie ahead.
“The citizens have indicated in surveys that they enjoy the quality of life offered in Platte City,” Offutt said. “They enjoy a safe hometown atmosphere with low crime, to raise their families and appreciate the goods and services that are available by our business community. Expectations for goods and services will grow with new families arriving in the coming months as the announced construction at KCI Airport will be similar to when the original airport was built in the 1960s.”
He said with municipal buildings approaching the end of their life expectancies, the city will seek to consolidate its resources to move forward. He pointed to the city’s matching grant program that has helped businesses and homeowners to repair and renovate older structures. The City of Weston is working on creation of a similar program modeled on the Platte City program.
Offutt said he envisions the future of the city as bright, with well maintained infrastructure that including safe drinking water, affordable wastewater services, effective storm water systems, well maintained streets and more.
Vann, 52, is married with three children. A retired soldier, he is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and the Iraqi conflict. He has worked for the Department of Homeland Security and the US Postal Service.
Currently, he serves on the city’s park board and has stated his dissatisfaction with the current administration at several meetings of that board.
“I’m a proven military leader,” Vann said. “I know how to take care of people. I know what right looks like. I understand any decision made is good for the majority. I know that I can’t please everybody but I won’t please the select few. We all know that is currently happening.”
Vann said transparency is lacking at city hall and that Offutt doesn’t make Platte City’s welfare his first priority when making decisions.
“I can provide the leadership that ensures the board of aldermen understands the decisions are meant for the people and taxpayers of Platte City,” Vann said. “The people are frustrated when dealing with city hall. They do not listen.”
Vann is critical of the development efforts east of I-29 and says Offutt, as district manager of Public Water District No. 4, has a conflict of interest in developments there.
“He (Offutt) gave Platte 4 water district to run water to the new housing district currently being developed east of I-29,” Vann said. “The city water tower is north of the area. The hookups are there as well. How or why did this happen? Water is the second source of revenue for the city. The current mayor has a conflict of interest when making daily decisions.”
Vann said if elected he plans to review all decisions made in the last several years and would work to involve the public in government. He wants to prioritize a revitalization effort for Main Street, as well as construction of a swimming pool and new police headquarters.
Brooks has made his own return to Platte City politics, facing off against Brad Wallace in ward one.
Brooks — who says he is older than 65 but in good health — is married and has spent his career in financial advising and marketing. As well as his six years as mayor and time on the board of aldermen, Brooks has served on the parks board and planning commission.
“Platte City needs experienced people on the board of aldermen that are business people not politicians or yes men,” Brooks said.
Brooks is skeptical of the city’s recent forays into real estate development east of I-29.
“I don’t believe the city should be in the real estate business,” Brooks said. “Spending millions of dollars on 40 acres of land and a pump station to help their friends develop the land.”
He feels the city doesn’t currently have good management and he would like to inform the citizens of “what’s really going on and where their dollars are being spent.”
“The city should work for the people, not the people working for Platte City,” Brooks said. “Keep the people advised of what is going on. We need to drain the swamp.”
Wallace did not respond to the Citizen’s questionnaire.
Appointed incumbent Steve Hoeger — who replaced former Citizen owner Lee Stubbs after his resignation last summer — is facing a challenge from former alderman Ron Porter for a one-year term.
Hoeger, 48, is married with two grown children. He has worked as a paramedic and currently works in the University of Kansas Health System. He has served on the Northland Regional Ambulance District board and the city planning and zoning commission. His work and community service experiences have prepared him for service with the city, he said, including his involvement in emergency planning and homeland security.
“Mayor Offutt and he current board have the city moving in a positive direction, with city surveys showing a high satisfaction rate,” Hoeger said, noting he wishes to help continue the city to grow in a responsible fashion.
“While I recognize we can’t always make everyone happy, I believe I am capable of making tough decisions based on what will benefit the majority of the community while still trying to do the most I can for everyone,” he said.
Porter, 82, is married with five grown children and has worked in the construction and security industries. He has served on the board of aldermen before and would like to serve again, feeling his experience as an independent businessman would help him.
“I think the people in my district deserve better,” Porter said, noting he also wants to work to keep utilities affordable.
Porter said he wants to help the city with the development east of I-29.
“I would help get good people to build on the east side of I-29,” Porter said.
In Ward 2 and Ward 3, incumbent aldermen Tony Paolillo and Debbie Kirkpatrick are unopposed for re-election to their seats.