Parkville voters will face a mixed election bag April 5 with the mayor and two aldermen facing a challenger and two aldermen and a judge running unopposed.
Incumbent mayor Nan Johnston will face Nick Casale; in Ward 1, Dave Baker, Terry Brown and Tina Welch are on the ballot; and in Ward 3, Kevin McDonald and Robert Lock are running. Ward 2 alderman Dave Rittman, Ward 4 alderman Marc Sportsman and municipal judge Kevin Humiston are unopposed for their seats.
Brown, Welch and McDonald did not respond to The Citizen’s election questionnaire.
Johnston, 55, is from Parkville, Mo. and served as Ward 4 alderman for six years before she was elected to the mayor’s seat in 2014. She is owner of McManus Direct and has an adult daughter.
During her time as alderman, Johnston led the two-year Parkville Plan for Progress, an economic development plan, which also led to the creation of the Parkville Economic Development Council.
“My term as an elected official serving the residents of Parkville has been the most satisfying experience in my professional life,” Johnston said. “I have a true passion for
public service and enjoy planning for the future of Parkville. I am proud to be mayor of Parkville and truly like the people who live here. In addition, there are a number of projects in the planning stages, and I would like to see them through to completion.”
Johnston is concerned about the failed Neighborhood Improvement Districts (NIDs) and the payments the city is making to cover the debts, although she feels the city is on the right track for handling the problem.
The city is in the process of obtaining ownership of the properties through the judicial foreclosure process. According to Johnston, developers have expressed much more interest than previously, now that the City controls the property.
City officials and the Parkville Economic Development Council have been meeting with interested businesses and developers and hope to have some announcements in the near future.
Johnston also considers the Highway 9 corridor as a top priority, with the process of applying for grant funding now under way.
Casale, 68, is originally from New Jersey. He has two grown sons and has worked for 35 years in private country club management.
A sense of civic duty led Casale to run for mayor, and he feels his work with planning, budgets and fiscal responsibility qualify him for the mayor’s post. He said he doesn’t believe the city currently faces any serious problems or issues, but that he wants to “bring a new vision to our local government.”
Casale hopes to provide “real leadership with open participation from all citizens,” while increasing the city’s financial strength through short- and long-term planning.
Neither contested alderman race features and incumbent.
Baker, 38, is from Parkville and a newlywed — married to wife Rachel for almost a year. He is a full time student finishing a special education degree and hopes to start work in the fall in special education.
Previously, Baker worked for Pro Athlete Inc. in product management. He said he ran because he cares about the city and the people who call it home.
“I am a life-long citizen of this community, and I want Parkville to remain not only the quaint little community it is known as, but I want it to grow and show other communities how this one comes together for the good of the town and the people,” Baker said.
With continued growth, Baker said it grows harder for Parkville to remain the “quaint little town we know and love.” He said that is the city’s biggest challenge — managing growth without losing the city’s small-town charm.
If elected, Baker hopes to encourage citizens to become more involved in the city’s governance.
“As a leader of this community, I would help in directing not only our path of growth and outreach, but to also point us back to the community we are, by reminding all of our leaders how we got to be who we are,” Baker said. “I will also work to remind myself and the other leaders that we are servants of the community, and the people of this community deserve our very best efforts.”
Lock, 60, is originally from Jefferson City, Mo. Married, he has two adult children and works as a certified public accountant.
After a turn at the state auditor’s office, he has helped run his own accounting firm for almost 30 years. The firm audits governmental and non-profit organizations, all the way to the federal level. He served on the board last year as a temporary appointee and has also served on the Parkville Planning and Zoning Commission.
In 2015, Lock told The Citizen that his background as a CPA that has audited federal, state and local governments provided a strong financial management background to help manage city finances.
While Lock believes the city is currently in good condition, he understands the need to move forward.
As Kansas City continues to expand outward, Parkville needs to manage its growth to keep its character, he said. This holds true especially for the downtown district and Highway 45 corridor. He would like to see downtown returned to its “original luster” and hopes to help the city improve its broadband access as well.