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Unified Government Commissioner, District 7Jim Walters, left, and Tom Cooley, incumbent, are running for Unified Government Commissioner, District 7. (Photo by Debra DeCoster)
Unified Government Commissioner, District 7
Incumbent Commissioner Thomas R. Cooley is running for re-election in the 7th District.
Cooley, 70, is retired as city manager of Bonner Springs. He is a graduate of Wyandotte High School, Kansas City Kansas Community College, and Ottawa University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
He was first appointed to the UG Commission in 1999, then was elected in 2001, 2005 and 2009.
“I have been a resident of Wyandotte County all my life and I deeply care about this county and the citizens who live in its three cities,” he stated. “I’m a Dotte and my roots run deep. I retired in 1998 after having worked for all three cities a total of 29 years in public service. Being the former city manager of both Bonner Springs and Edwardsville, I bring a unique and positive background of experience and knowledge of local government from operations to finances.”
He stated that his top campaign issue would be to continue to support the cooperation and partnerships the three cities in Wyandotte County have established.
“I continue to support the economic development growth in my district and support the expansion to other parts of the county,” he said.
Among his past accomplishments are an interlocal agreement among Kansas City, Kan., Bonner Springs and Edwardsville to share casino revenues.
In a recent candidate forum, Cooley said that reducing property taxes would be the top priority when the STAR bonds are paid off in 2017. He added it is difficult to predict the financial situation four years from now, which relies on other factors such as the amount of revenues received from the state.
Cooley was chair of the Mid-America Regional Council from 2008 to 2010 and has held many other positions in the community, including co-chair of the UG Administration and Human Services Standing Committee and co-chair of the UG Public Works Standing Committee. He is a member and treasurer of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council board, and a member of the Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board and the Wyandotte County Jail Population Committee.
Architect Jim Walters, Bonner Springs, is a candidate for UG Commission, District 7.
Walters, 60, whose work for the architectural firm Populous includes the Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., has lived in the Lake of the Forest neighborhood for more than 30 years.
“I would like to see this area where I live to be part of the successful future of Wyandotte County, and to spread the successful initiative throughout the rest of the county, also,” Walters said. “What I’m mostly interested in is getting excellent value for our taxes. And I’m interested in helping to promote the delivery of services between Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and the Unified Government, and all public services.”
The entire county could benefit from additional growth and development, he said.
Now semi-retired as senior principal for Populous (formerly HOK Sports), Walters spent much of his career helping with the construction of sporting venues around the world. He has led projects including the Pepsi Center in Denver; New Jersey Devils Arena in Newark; as well as facilities in Berlin, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro.
“I’ve seen, first-hand, the positive effects that economic development can have on a community,” Walters said, “and I’m convinced that a program of aggressive, sustainable economic growth must play the central role in making Wyandotte County’s ‘comeback’ permanent.
“Only by expanding our tax base and by raising property values in WyCo can we address our fundamental challenges,” Walters said. “Tax relief, job creation, delivering superb public services…these goals can be met only by continually attracting new businesses to our area. As an architectural project leader and longtime business-owner, I understand the value of setting priorities and managing to achieve goals.
Walters graduated from Bonner Springs High School in 1970 and holds a Bachelor’s of Environmental Design degree from the University of Kansas, and a Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University of Kansas. He grew up in the Argentine area of Kansas City, Kan., before moving to Bonner Springs.
(Information compiled by Mary Rupert)