By Mike Genet
In addition to the mayor's seat, three City Council races are on the April 7 ballot in Blue Springs, with all three incumbents running.
Jerry Kaylor is unopposed In District 1, generally the northern third of the city, while District 2 incumbent Kent Edmondson is challenged by Byron Craddolph, a member of the city's Planning Commission. In District 3, generally the southern third, longtime incumbent Ron Fowler is on the ballot with Benjamin Bitler, though Bitler reportedly no longer is an active candidate.
The incumbents answered a few questions during Thursday's candidates forum at the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, though Craddolph was unable to attend.
Like all four mayoral candidates, the council incumbents support another attempt at the use tax (collecting local taxes on internet sales) saying it comes down to fairness for local businesses – and ultimately the city.
“We need to make a really good argument that we need this tax, that it's in your best benefit,” Edmondson said.
For filling empty commercial spots, both Edmondson and Kaylor said the city has become easier to work with for prospective businesses, while Fowler said having a new economic development director on hand soon should help.
“We can't force them to come, but we can make it more encouraging,” Edmondson said, noting that the city recently updated its sign code.
For the south side, where housing development questions have forged some recent debate in the city, Fowler said he hopes to see average or above-average housing that continues to help the school district, as well as developing the future Roscoe Righter Park. Edmondson said a good mix of housing allows people to put down roots and stay in a neighborhood, and more rooftops leads to more people and thus more businesses.
“Get the residential back on track, and the businesses will come,” Kaylor added.
To help maintain property values, Fowler said, the city needs to maintain strong police and keep up better with road maintenance.
The most common thing Kaylor hears when talking to citizens, he said, is “When are we going to get repaved?”