Chat with Ward III candidate Jeff Vaught
February 26, 2010
Jeff Vaught, candidate for the Ward III Shawnee City Council seat, will chat live at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 26, 2010. Vaught, a commercial real estate broker and owner of The Vaught Group, is facing incumbent Kevin Straub and candidates Dennis Kissinger and Jeff Tollman in the March 2 primary election to see which two move on to the April 6 general election.
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Hello, and welcome to this afternoon's chat with Ward III candidate Jeff Vaught.
The Dispatch offered the opportunity to participate in a pre-primary chat to all four Ward III candidates, and Mr. Vaught took us up on our offer, along with Dennis Kissinger, whose chat was at 2 p.m. We would like to thank in advance all who are participating for submitting questions as we approach the primary election in Ward III. Now we’ll get to those questions!
Some people are wanting to repeal the recently re-enacted franchise tax. Is this a good or bad idea and why?
The franchise fee affects everyone who pays a utility bill, landowner or not. If it takes the franchise fee to prevent an increase in the mill levy then it shouldn’t be repealed. Ward 3 cannot afford an increase in the mill levy.
How will your knowledge and experience in commercial real estate help you address the city's economic development?
A report was recently done that shows Shawnee as among the most expensive cities to develop in. I understand the impact this has on development. Development ‘fees’ flow to the bottom line and have a profound effect on the viability of a project. We see a lot happening in Lenexa and KCK. Their fees are considerably less than ours. We need to be competitive and aggressive.
Do you have other ideas for short-term or long-term solutions for economic development? What developments do you think should be brought to Ward III?
In my opinion, Shawnee is too focused on retail. There is a demand for flex-space and light industrial along 435 and k-7. We need to pursue what there is a demand for now, not wait until a market shows up for something else. While office space seems great, all the banks that have built it are sitting on empty space. The absorption rate for office space in south JOCO is well over 10 years and the rates are extremely cheap. We can’t compete with that. We can compete with light industrial business parks
In what ways do you plan to work with the De Soto School District to ensure positive communication?
The vetoing of the 435 TIF should have never happened. It’s my understanding that the city had spoken with the school district and thought they were on board but I don’t know that for sure. Nonetheless, it’s important for the city staff and government to open channels of communication with the school district and work out their differences on a project before it gets to the voting stage. It’s expensive for a developer to move a TIF project along and to have to start. As a commercial real estate broker I think I’m in a good position to help explain the pros and cons of a project and how it will impact the school district.
To help our readers distinguish you from your opponents, can you tell us what methods you have used to campaign? And what are the most common concerns about the city you have heard from constituents as you’ve been out campaigning?
I think I’ve run a pretty standard campaign. Most of what I’ve done so far is go door-to-door and talk to the residents. It seems that most people are tired of the divisiveness of the council, or at least a few of its members. I think people want to see fresh ideas with a positive approach. As far as issues, property taxes and lack of development are at the top.
There’s time for one last question: What do you think defines a good leader, and can you share your leadership qualities with us?
One of the things I enjoy about commercial real estate is the challenge of working through large complex transactions and keeping all the players on board and all the pieces in place. When deals start to go south it takes strong leadership to work through differences and put things back together. My experience is in the private sector. I own my own business and I spent years working in the family business. I have to demonstrate strong leadership skills or I don’t succeed. Leaders don’t approach conflicts as though it’s a battle but rather a challenge. One must find the common ground, build a consensus, and move forward. Community involvement is also key to leadership. It’s easy to sit back and talk about all the things that need to be changed, but leaders get involved and work to change them. My involvement with the Shawnee Tomorrow Leadership Program, The Shawnee Chamber, The Shawnee Economic Development Council, Congressional Forum, and Rotary has not only connected me to the community but put me in a position to lead and move the community forward.
Well, that concludes our chat. Thank you to Jeff Vaught for taking the time to answer questions, and thanks again to those who submitted them. Once again, we'll take a moment to remind our readers that the primary for Ward III is March 2 and the general election is April 6 and encourage them to get to the polls and vote.
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