Grain Valley has two contested races next Tuesday – mayor and Ward 1 Alderman.
Current mayor Michael Todd is being opposed by retired Grain Valley School District teacher Jim Hofstetter and incumbent Ward 1 alderman Dale Arnold is being opposed by Jayci Stratton. Yolanda West is running unopposed for Ward 2 alderman and Bob Headley doesn’t have a challenger for Ward 3.
Polls in Missouri are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Todd said he’s proud of the progress the city has made in his eight years as mayor, including bringing in a Cosentino’s Price Chopper, a McDonald’s, the B&B movie theater and an Advance Auto Parts store. He said he wants to continue bringing in more businesses, which is why he’s running for another term.
“It’s something I enjoy doing, and I have really enjoyed the progress we’ve made in town,” Todd said. “I want to keep the progress going.”
Hofstetter said he’s not running against Mayor Todd, but for mayor of Grain Valley. He said he is simply running to give back to the community in which he’s lived for the past 16 years.
“I don’t have a political agenda. I have a city of Grain Valley agenda,” said Hofstetter, who taught government classes for 25 years. He said his family “loves it here. This community has been so great for us, I just want to give back. I have some ideas that could help us reach some goals that I am hearing from people on a daily basis as I campaign.”
A primary issue that Hofstetter wants to tackle is the funding for education in the city. He said that tax increment financing, which has allowed for Price Chopper and other businesses not to pay some property taxes, has taken money away from local schools. That’s one of the first things he wants to address if elected.
“I am not a big fan of TIFs,” Hofstetter said. “We have some in the city. We have had some backed by the individual, which is no risk to the city. Others, the city is granted. The problem with the ones the city backs is it’s a risk. We cannot pay for the Grain Valley school system based on individual property tax. You got to have some bigger businesses (paying property tax). School bond issues are funded by property taxes. That would lessen the burden on the individual taxpayer. We’re going to need to build another high school soon. Where is that money going to come from?”
“We also get a lot of complaints about the infrastructure – streets, potholes, sewers – and those types of things. I am looking for ways to be more efficient with city funds to take care of those things. There’s always a way to figure things out.”
Todd said he wants to add flashing warning lights at crosswalks and he wants a swim facility for the new Grain Valley High School boys and girls swim teams that will both have their inaugural season next school year.
“They are going to be using the YMCA in Blue Springs because we don’t have proper facilities because we’ve outgrown the facilities we have. We don’t have facilities indoors to begin with. We bought a portion of Sni-A-Bar Farms, and I would like to see an aquatic center out there, so it could support the swim teams. In 2020, a lot of our past bond issues will start falling off. We would be able to look into financing that then.”
“I’ve also been looking into adding additional sidewalks and adding crosswalks that have the flashing warning lights,” Todd said. “Some cars don’t slow down for those always. If we can add those, pedestrians can cross and cars will stop for them.”
And Todd is hopeful he can make those changes after the election, and he feels his experience as mayor will aid him come April 3.
“I have been mayor for eight years, alderman six years before that and was in planning and zoning before that,” Todd said. “I’ve been involved in the city for a lot of years. I think it’s difficult to step in the mayor’s role when you haven’t had experience in city government.”
Hofstetter said he doesn’t know much about Todd and hasn’t spoken to him. He said he’s concentrating more on making some changes for the city rather than who he’s running against.
“I think Mayor Todd wants what’s best for Grain Valley just like I do,” Hofstetter said. “What’s best for Grain Valley is what we agree on. How we get there we disagree on.”
Ward 1 alderman
Arnold, who has been an alderman for 10 years, said he wants to continue to build on the progress the city has made with bringing in new businesses.
“Some of the things we have been going over the past 10 years are starting to show some of the fruits of our efforts,” Arnold said. “We have some other businesses wanting to come in here. I want to see how much further we can bring Grain Valley forward.”
Stratton said she simply just wants to serve the community she has lived in for 14 years.
“I have raised both of my kids here,” she said. “This has been the only hometown they’ve known and we love it here. For me, serving as alderman would be an opportunity to do just that, serve.”
She added that she doesn’t have any specific issues she wants to tackle if elected, but wants to see “what is on the table.”
“I would love to find businesses to come to The Valley that our community will support but will allow the town to keep that small town feel that so many of our residents love,” Stratton said.
One of the first things Arnold wants to do is try and raise the pay of those who work for the city and give them better benefits. He also would like to get another restaurant aside from El Maguey to come in.
“I want to do that as a way of saying thank you to all those people who have worked so hard for us every day,” Arnold said. “We have a lot of good people working for our police department and our parks department.
“We’ve heard from a lot of people that they want another sit-down restaurant, so they can sit down and eat in the community,” he said. “We only have one right now.”
But to meet those goals, he first has to win the election, and Arnold said his experience could give him the edge.
“We both have a lot of the same opinions, but one of the advantages I have is my experience,” he said. “I have been there in the office for the last 10 years. The experience helps you know how the meetings are run and the processes you need to go through for things to take place.”
Stratton said she wants to take on the challenge of running against Arnold.
“He will be tough to beat for sure,” she said. “But I am usually not one to shy away from a good challenge.
“I won’t say that I’m the better candidate, I’m just a different candidate. Currently, other than the mayor, who is a tie-breaker vote, there isn’t a person representing my generation. I’ve been a successful small-business owner for the last 10 years, and I feel that I would bring good insight as to how and what other generations like to spend money on.”
• Yolanda West is running unopposed for Grain Valley’s Ward 2 alderman position and Bob Headley is unopposed for Ward 3 alderman.
• Troy Jeffries, Mary Ruth Dobbins and David Jeffries are running unopposed for three trustee positions in Sibley
• In Lake Lotawana, Lawrence Byrne is running unopposed for Ward 1 alderman, as are Lanny Maness in Ward 2 and Jan Rase in Ward 3.
• For Lake Tapawingo, incumbent Janet Baldwin is being opposed by Steven Magel for Ward 1 alderman; Andrew Rogers and Andrew Rogers and Brady Cloverdyke are both unopposed for Ward 2 aldermen and Robert Seago is unopposed in Ward 3.