Mark Holland can take Wyandotte County to the next level
The Kansas City Star
Wyandotte County’s revival over the last 16 years didn’t happen by accident. It took clear-eyed leadership. And the county’s persistent problems won’t go away magically, either.
Wyandotte County deserves continued strong leadership to build on past successes and meet future challenges. The Star recommends Mark Holland over challenger Ann Murguia in the race for mayor and CEO of the Unified Government on April 2.
For starters, Holland is up front in talking about the county’s troubles and how he’ll deal with them.
Property taxes are too high, so he wants to use some future public revenue created by the popular West Village retail and entertainment district to reduce them. Bonds used to develop amenities in western Wyandotte County could be paid off within four years.
The urban core has crumbling infrastructure, many vacant houses and a sputtering jobs market. Holland wants to aggressively go after more housing, grocery stores and businesses in the core. He’s determined to repair roads and sidewalks in older parts of Kansas City, Kan.
It’s also encouraging that Holland isn’t an old-line politician moaning about how the public can’t trust Wyandotte County’s officials.
Instead, Holland properly emphasizes the tremendous strides that Wyandotte County has made under two excellent mayors, Carol Marinovich and Joe Reardon. Both served eight years in the top office, emerging as effective leaders on regional issues. Both have heartily endorsed Holland, who has the potential to work well with area officials on crucial matters.
On campaign stops, Holland asks voters to keep pursuing a long term plan that has provided the county with Kansas Speedway, Sporting Park, the promise of 4,000 jobs at Cerner’s new offices and sprawling retail areas.
Marinovich and Reardon helped make all that possible, along with the financial advice of longtime County Administrator Dennis Hays.
Now, the two former mayors, other community leaders, some big labor groups and regular citizens are backing Holland. He’s an upbeat, forward-looking elected official. He has six years of accomplishments as an at-large commissioner, someone who got familiar with all of the county’s potential — and its challenges — in that office.
Holland easily won the late February primary with almost 50 percent of the vote. Fellow commissioner Murguia edged retiring commissioner Nathan Barnes for second place.
Still, that was a low-turnout election because of a heavy snowfall. So Holland, pastor of Trinity Community Church, needs to have a good strategy to ensure his supporters get to the polls.
On the commission, Murguia has shown a propensity to create factions instead of consensus. It is difficult to envision her leading an administration or working with others to solve difficult problems.
Murguia — a champion of neighborhood redevelopment — often says during campaign appearances she wants to survey residents to see what they would like to do. While that approach has some appeal, Holland properly notes that — over six years — both commissioners have heard the same priorities: Reduce property taxes and bring more development to the urban core.
Holland, with his at-large perspective of the county, is best prepared from Day One to confront those challenges. He would be a strong replacement for Joe Reardon and — with a competent Unified Government commission — could help ensure a better future for Wyandotte County.
The Star’s recommendations for the board of commissioners will appear Monday.