After narrowly defeating incumbent commissioner Beverlee Roper in the August Republican primary, political newcomer Dagmar Wood will face an independent challenge in the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election.
Andy Smith earned his place on the ballot in August through a petition initiative, gathering enough signatures to be billed as a recognized independent candidate. Although a legal challenge to the petition process has been alleged, no criminal charges have been filed, and Smith remains on the ballot.
Dagmar Wood, 49, has lived in Parkville, Mo. for 23 years with her husband, Eric, and four children. Originally from Chesterfield, Mo., she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri — Kansas City. Now a full-time mother, she previously worked as an analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Wood served as chair of an ambulance committee in Parkville and as a member of the jail committee appointed last year by the Platte County Commission to determine if a jail expansion was necessary.
During the primary, Wood was critical of Roper’s record in office, stating issues were “kicked down the road” for future commissions to deal with. During Roper’s term, the county funded a federal radio upgrade mandate by raising its property tax levy in 2014 from 1 cent to 6 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
Wood points to that, as well as a reliance on voter-approved sales taxes, as flaws in the county’s current financial planning.
“I believe that the county has not adequately prepared for the future needs of our parks and community centers with only $3.4 million in the parks future maintenance fund saved over the course of the last 16 years,” Wood said. “That’s less than two years’ worth of maintenance costs saved. I believe this is negligent and is not a risk I will continue. If elected, I will work with presiding commissioner Ron Schieber to maintain our parks and community centers at an excellent level, save for their ongoing future maintenance, and address the diversion of $1.5 million annually of the parks use tax to general revenue.”
When the current tax sunsets in 2020, Wood said she would like to see a one-half cent renewal go to voters during a November election to receive the most voter input possible.
“I would like to see a portion allocated to parks and stormwater and a portion for pubic safety needs as well,” Wood said. “I believe that public safety’s budget should be greater than parks’ budget because public safety is a core county function. Does that make me anti-parks? No. No more than believing that the prosecutor’s budget should be greater than the clerk’s budget makes me anti-clerk. It just means that there are financial priorities.
“Everything can’t be No. 1.”
Wood also considers one parks and recreation facility to be a drain on the county’s budget — Shiloh Springs Golf Course.
“I don’t believe it makes sense for the county to be in the golf course business when there are a dozen prospering golf courses in the Northland that most golfers prefer over Shiloh,” Wood said. “Shiloh golf course is not filling a recreational need that doesn’t already exist but diverting much-needed funds from our parks, trails and community centers.
“I would like to see this golf course off the county’s books and prospering under different ownership.”
Andy Smith, 53, is from Parkville and works as a managing member of B4 and Beyond.
A graduate of Park Hill High School, he is married with four children ranging in age from 28 to 16. He said he has served as a community leader for more than 20 years and was approached by fellow leaders and former commissioners and encouraged to run for the office.
“I have experience with the current issues like long-term planning and the parks tax that will be up for renewal in 2020,” Smith said. “I listen to people and want to involve them in the plan for the future. I love Platte County and the people that live here. I want what’s best for the whole community, from north to south.”
His plan to involve people in government begins with crafting a 20-year plan for the county, with projections for roads, parks, county services and law enforcement needs. Budget projections would be a part of that planning, to help determine the best course for the future.
Such planning would help keep buildings, parks, roads, bridges and infrastructure maintained while also providing value assessment and engineering. The half-cent parks tax is not exempt from this plan.
“I would support the renewal of the tax only after developing a plan and need for future monies,” Smith said. “The county does not need to collect a pile of money and then decide how to spend it. They need to have a plan in place that the citizens have sign off on first and then and only then renew the tax if necessary.”
Smith said law enforcement also needs a long-term plan for dealing with jail space concerns and employee retention and training. Splitting the parks tax into a parks and law enforcement tax has been suggested by several candidates for the last few years, and Smith said that should only be done if there is a firm plan in place.
“Law enforcement makes up 61 percent of the current county budget and there are 22 other departments to consider,” Smith said.
Smith said the Platte County Sheriff’s Office should develop a five-year plan with merit raises and cost of living raises along with training programs that will allow the county to compete with other area law enforcement agencies.
Smith’s focus on planning also extends to the Shiloh Springs Golf Course.
“You do not get rid of park land unless you are bringing Disney World to the table,” Smith said. “We have a wonderful park system in Platte County, and the golf course is part of it. There may be changes to the golf course or it may become something else with future planning, but I don’t see any reason to dispose of valuable park property at this time.”