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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
Following are some questionnaires that have been returned to the Wyandotte Daily News by candidates running for Unified Government Commission, 7th District, in the spring elections.
Unified Government Commission, 7th District
Tom Cooley, incumbent
1. Name and office sought:
Thomas R. (Tom) Cooley
UG Commissioner, District 7
Retired from city manager, city of Bonner Springs, 1998
Graduate of Wyandotte High School, 1960
Graduate of Kansas City Kansas Community College, 1963
Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Ottawa University, 1996
5. Organizations, clubs, groups to which you belong
Chair, Mid-America Regional Council, 2008-2010
Co-chair, Administration and Human Services Standing Committee
Co-Chair, Public Works Standing Committee
Chair, Mid-America Regional Council Community Services Corp., 2006-2008
Member, Mid-America Regional Council Budget and Personnel Committee
Member, Mid-America Regional Council Transit-Supportive Development Steering Committee, 2000
Member, Economic Development and Finance Standing Committee, 19999-2002
President, Kiwanis Club of Edwardsville, 1990-1992
Treasurer, Wyandotte County United Way Board of Directors, 2001-2003
Member, Edwardsville Kiwanis Club Board of Directors
Member, Leadership 2000 Board of Directors, 1995-2004
Treasurer Wyandotte County Citizens Planning Committee
Member, Wyandotte Economic Development Council Board of Directors
Treasurer, Wyandotte County Economic Development Council
Member, Men’s Support Group, Sisters, Servants of Mary
Chairman, Kaw District Heart of America Council Boy Scouts of America, 2007-2009
Member, Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board
Member of Wyandotte County Jail Committee
Scorekeeper for Bishop Ward High School Football, Basketball and Baseball teams
6. Reasons for running
7. 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. 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.
8. What is your top campaign issue?
I continue to support the cooperation and partnerships the 3 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.
9. There may be budget constraints facing local governments and schools. If you had to make cuts, what would be at the top of the list to cut?
We have made many budget cuts over the past few years and yet continued to provide the citizens with the basic needs and services. At times, this was very difficult and required a lot of forethought and prioritizing. I supported those cuts and those budget decisions and I will evaluate and consider any and all proposed ones during future budgets as deemed necessary.
10. If you are an incumbent, list your top accomplishments in office.
I have been the incumbent in District 7 since November 1999, and during that time, I have served on many boards and committees representing both Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan. Representing the UG on the Mid-America Regional Council is especially important because MARC is the metropolitan area Council of Governments. Being the immediate past chair of MARC was a great accomplishment. The inter-local agreement between the three cities to share the casino revenues was monumental … it had never been done before! It provided revenue to both Bonner Springs and Edwardsville in an amount equal to about 1 mill worth of taxes every month.
Also, I serve on the Wyandotte County Jail Population Committee and was part of reducing the costs of the operation of the Wyandotte County Jail.
11. What is the difference, on the issues, between you and the other candidates running for this office?
I’m sorry but I’m not aware of any of my opponent’s positions on the issues. [Questionnaire sent in before candidate forums started.]
12. Have you run for elected office previously?
1999 Appointed to Unified Government Board of Commissioners District 7.
2001 Elected to Unified Government Board of Commissioners, District 7
2005 Re-elected to Unified Government Board of Commissioners, District 7
2009 Re-elected to Unified Government Board of Commissioners, District 7
Jim Walters, questionnaire not received
A news release was received from the Jim Walters campaign:
Locally based architect Jim Walters, whose work throughout the world has garnered international acclaim, today filed to represent District 7 as commissioner on the Unified Government (UG) Commission. District 7 includes much of western Wyandotte County, including the cities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville. Kansas Speedway and Village West also are within District 7 boundaries, as is Lake of the Forest, where Walters has resided for more than three decades. The district currently is represented by Tom Cooley.
A lifelong Wyandotte Countian, Walters rose to prominence as an architect for Populous (formerly known as HOK Sport), the world’s leading architectural/design firm of sports arenas and stadia. Now semi-retired as Senior Principal for Populous, Walters lists LIVESTRONG Sporting Park at Village West as one of his many design projects. He spent much of his career facilitating construction of sporting venues around the world. Walters-led projects have included the Pepsi Center in Denver; New Jersey Devils Arena (Newark); o2 World Arena (Berlin, Germany); the Soccer Training Facility for Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro; and many more. Prior to joining the newly formed HOK Sport in 1985, Walters worked for HNTB, Kansas City, and for the firm of Ekdahl, Davis, Depew and Persson in Topeka.
In announcing his candidacy, Walters said he will bring his high-level international experience in community growth to bear for his fellow District 7 residents.
“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 continued. “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.
“The potential of District 7 remains largely untapped,” Walters said. “Fulfilling the promise of District 7 – and making sure that those residents benefit accordingly – should be important to those of us who live here. It certainly is to me.”
Walters also said that he was interested in exploring ways for District 7’s incorporated cities to better work with the UG, and vice versa. “Few persons in Bonner or Edwardsville, it appears to me, have a clear understanding of the
relationship between their city and the UG…and particularly how it affects their taxes,” Walters said. “Surely more can be done not only to drive greater understanding of the dynamic between the UG and these cities, but also to maximize what can be achieved working together.”
Public education, too, was cited by Walters as a priority. “Direct lines between the UG and our local school districts are few,” he said. “But it’s impossible even to consider a community’s greatness without highlighting the role of its schools. I’d like to see what can be done to give the UG a greater role in supporting the efforts of WyCo’s public school districts.”
Walters was graduated from Bonner Springs High School in 1970. He was awarded a Bachelor’s of Environmental Design degree from the University of Kansas in 1975, and a Bachelor’s of Architecture, also from KU, in 1977.
Walters and wife JoAnn have six grown children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren between them. The couple attends First Christian Church in Bonner Springs.