KANSAS CITY, MO – The Overland Park mayors’ race will come to a climax during the primaries on Tuesday, August 3.
For the first time since 2005, Mayor Carl Gerlach is no longer standing for re-election.
After the primaries in August, only the top two will advance to the parliamentary elections on November 2nd.
In anticipation of Tuesday, KSHB 41 News spoke to the four candidates: Curt Skoog, Dr. Faris Farassati, Clay Norkey and Mike Czinege.
Curt Skoog, current councilor for Ward 2 at Overland Park
Question: Why do you want to become mayor?
I’ve been on the city council for 16 years and have developed an incredible passion for the city of Overland Park in those 16 years, and I want to become mayor to keep Overland Park moving.
Q: What do you think needs improvement in Overland Park City?
Even though we have one of the highest rated places to live, work, and raise a family, there is still a lot to do. We have to work on housing. We have to work on accessible living space. We have to work to build trust in our police force. We must continue to be the economic engine of the state of Kansas, creating high quality, paid jobs. That will continue to be my focus as mayor.
Q: Why should voters trust you to run the city?
Trust is something you deserve, not just something you demand. During my time on the council, I have built trust in the ward to accomplish the goals of the ward. As mayor, you can look back on my track record for our city and we will build on that together.
Q: Why are you the best person for the job?
I have a 16 year track record of advancing our community. My success story began with the Vision Metcalf process. When I first knocked on doors 16 years ago to run for council, I heard the same message I hear today: “We love Overland Park. We love living in Overland Park.” But 16 years ago, the next comment I heard from a lot of people was, “I’m worried about my property value because of the aging strip centers in the Metcalf Corridor.” When I was elected, I got support from the council and we completed the Metcalf vision process, which was about redesigning aging commercial properties along Metcalf.
Q: is there anything you would like to add?
As Mayor, I will continue to advance Overland Park in terms of jobs, neighborhoods, education, and safety.
Dr. Faris Farassati, current city council member who moved to Overland Park about 13 years ago
Question: Why are you running for mayor’s office?
For the past four years I have had the pleasure of serving as a councilor to the people of Overland Park. In those four years I have come to understand that the priorities of the Overland Park government right now do not match the priorities of the Overland Park people.
The other thing is, after talking to hundreds and thousands of people, I realized that they feel that their voice is not being heard in City Hall the way it should be. They have concerns about quality, they have concerns about development, the rate of development in Overland Park, they have concerns about many other services, parks, facilities, public education, and they feel that their voice is not being heard.
Q: When you become mayor, what would you like to do first and why?
When I am Mayor, my ultimate goal is to get people’s tax dollars back where they belong – public services and amenities – so that the quality of life of the people of Overland Park can not only be maintained but increased.
Q: What would you like to change at Overland Park?
People worry about affordable housing, people worry that taxes are being given away on luxury homes. Either we are facing these problems now or we are facing major challenges. Ultimately, this is a beautiful city, we all agree on that. But that doesn’t mean we have to close our eyes.
Q: is there anything you would like to add?
I think I am bringing in a unique portfolio that I have brought together with people. I am listening to you. I know your priorities. And I will pursue it. I also have a plan – a plan based on research and the voice of the people. And the last thing is, for the past four years, I’ve shown that I’m immune to pressure from lobbyists and interest groups. I hold on to my duty of loyalty, even if I am criticized for it. And I think you can trust me there.
Clay Norkey, moved to Overland Park 22 years ago
Q: How do you think you can win voter confidence?
Leadership has to do with service. I serve the people. I think I have an incredible track record of doing this, both in the Church and through the Blue Valley Rec Commission, the President of the Bar Association, the President of the HOA, and coaching children. I mean, I had – I didn’t count them all, but I’m sure it’s well over 100 kids I’ve coached in my 12 years, probably well over 100 kids or more. And these families have entrusted their children to me. So this is kind of a track record that I have and go forward, go in and say, “Hey, we’re going to be transparent. We’re going to be held accountable. If you guys want to come out and have a press conference and listen to me once a week, twice a week , every other week – then we do it. “
We’re going to have better public engagement, better communication, and we’re going to be out there and I think that’s how you build trust. When they see their leaders in action and can trust them – and when they make a mistake, admit it – and fix it – then you build trust.
Q: Can you effectively guide the council in making decisions to make better improvements and a better quality of life for the city’s residents?
By bringing new businesses, new investments, entrepreneurs to town and building on our business base, this will help us thrive in our economy. This creates good jobs, increases the tax base and relieves the burden on individual homeowners. The better the business goes, the better it will be for the homeowner’s tax base.
Q: What major agenda items would you like to change for the better for the city?
I think we need to make some changes in the way we approach our policing. Especially in the context of mental health. You know, we got the John Albers filming that happened three and a half years ago, and we can’t let this happen again. We need to rethink how we approach our responses to mental health crises. We have to see that, you understand? Is sending a police officer fully armed with a taser and bulletproof vest the right approach for a teen with a mental health problem? Probably not.
Q: Is there anything else you want to say to get someone to vote for you?
We are electing a new mayor for the first time in 16 years. This is an incredible opportunity to move us in a more positive direction so that we can reject complacency and the status quo. Because these are not acceptable. It’s also an opportunity to make sure we’re going in the right direction and not being rerouted because we have the ability to be so much better than we are. And we are on the right track – if we move forward we will be able to do great things, this will be an even better city, but we have to make sure that we make that progress.
Mike Czinege, moved to Overland Park 30 years ago
Q: Why do you want to become Mayor of Overland Park?
I want to become Mayor of Overland Park because I don’t like the way the city is developing. I think the direction – it’s a great place to live and work. I raised three children here and have been here for 30 years. But it changes and it changes quickly. There is too much development as apartment complexes and apartment towns are developing all over the city, sometimes with the exception of single family homes, which the city was founded on in 1961. And the apartment houses – apartment towns – border on the borders right next to single-family houses and neighborhoods. It is causing traffic jams on the city streets and at traffic lights and overcrowding our schools. And I retired in January and just said, “It’s time to do something about it.”
Q: What did you talk to people in the church about and what are their thoughts?
I meet up with people and let them know that my name is first and foremost Mike Czinege. I’m running for mayor’s office. I’m conservative, which means that I want to give the city back the voice of its residents. I want to stop housing construction invading residential areas. I want to stop the rise in crime and support law enforcement and use tax subsidies effectively and not pay tax subsidies to property developers who want to build another apartment complex.
Q: How was it 30 years ago compared to today?
One of the best things we can do to ensure affordability for the people who want to work and live here is to keep building houses. And if there are any incentives we’d like to give people or property developers, get them to build a variety of types of homes. Entry-level houses, apartments at modest prices, luxury apartments, real estate types – and have a good inventory for the young people, the singles and the young married people with small children who want to live here.
Q: Are there any other key points you would like to focus on?
We need to make sure we support law enforcement and make sure we have enough resources to find the best officials possible. We have to make sure they are out on the streets protecting us, making sure they are properly trained – because they are life and death in shared decisions. It’s not like a video game where you can just make a mistake and move on to the next game. And you don’t have minutes to decide what to do when someone walks up to another person with a knife.
Q: For those you don’t already know, how would you sell them to yourself? What would you say
I’ve never been in politics. I never aspired to be in politics. But there are some issues that need to be addressed. I have 44 years of professional experience as a manager in various industries. I was CIO at AMC Theaters here in Overland Park and Leawood for 17 years. Before that, I was CIO at Applebee’s for four years. Before that, I was a partner for eight years. So I know how business is done. I worked – only in my departments did we have budgets of nearly $ 100 million each. And as a member of the Executive Committee of AMC Theaters, we managed billions in budgets. And we did it effectively. I know how to manage a budget. I know how to make things work and I know how to work with people to get things done. That is the key to being a successful leader.