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SHAWNEE, Kan. —In Johnson County, advance voting by mail for the general election begins next week.

To help voters get a better idea where candidates stand on issues impacting residents in the metro, FOX4 sent out a questionnaire to candidates in more than 50 races in Johnson County. 

In Shawnee, Jacklynn Walters and Kevin Makalous will go head to head to represent the 4th Ward on the Shawnee City Council. 

Here’s a look at what Makalous and Walters had to say:

Q: What is your top policy issue for the City of Shawnee?

Makalous: Economic Development, plain and simple. I will work to make sure Shawnee is front and center when it comes to economic development opportunities in the metro area. I want to find ways to attract business and industry to our great city!  There’s nothing worse than seeing empty storefronts and closed restaurants scattered throughout your home town.

Walters: As a mom, homeowner, and taxpayer in Shawnee, my top policy for Shawnee is ensuring that Shawnee remains a great place to raise a family, start a business, and retire. There are a number of ways to accomplish this task, from tax policy to fully funding public safety, to ensuring our neighborhoods remain vibrant. We also must rein in corporate welfare, which means practicing strict scrutiny regarding the use of tax incentives that reward wealthy developers who often break their promises with no accountability.

Q: What do you feel will be the biggest challenge to the city in the next 10 years and how should it be addressed? 

Makalous: Finding ways to make sure we stay a tight-knit community that honors and respects all members of that community. We need to be respectful of all points of view and ensure Shawnee is an open, welcoming, inclusive community where anyone can feel at home regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint. As our current political climate works to divide, I pledge to do everything I can to keep us united as ONE SHAWNEE where we value and appreciate everyone’s contributions to our city.

Jacklynn Walters Shawnee City Council Candidate, Ward 4

Walters: The biggest issue facing Shawnee in the next 10 years is the rising cost of living. With inflation, the rising price of gas and groceries, cost of living is a growing burden. To best serve our community we need to ensure we are willing to make issues like our police and fire, parks and pipes, and infrastructure our top priority. I commit to being fiscally responsible and welcome the opportunity to have a comprehensive evaluation of our city budget. 

Q: What changes, if any, would you like to see in the city budget? 

Makalous: A greater emphasis on walkability and bike-ability in Shawnee. I think we have a pretty darn good thing going here. With some minor tweaking it could be great. More sidewalks, more walking trails (with better access to those trails) and bike lanes anywhere it’s feasible to add, would sure be great improvements to our city! Other than that, I don’t see many other areas that require substantially higher levels of funding. I would not support any cut in taxes until a much greater percentage of our streets have curbs and sidewalks.  I also don’t support any large scale expansion of current city services at this time.  

Walters: I would love to see more transparency and accountability when it comes to using taxpayer funds.  With my experience in banking and [being] a mom of 4, I understand how important it is to live within a budget; make wise financial decisions and investments, and prioritize needs over wants. The city council should do the same with your tax dollars. 

Q: Would you support the city issuing a mask mandate or any other health orders beyond what has been recommended by the county health department? Please explain why or why not. 

Makalous: At this point-in-time, in the current state of the pandemic, I do not support additional government interventions like mask mandates. Obviously, if the facts changed and things became significantly worse, I would be open to looking at additional measures to protect hospital capacity. That being said, with the vaccines widely available and free, safe, and effective, I think we need to focus all our attention on getting more people vaccinated.

Kevin Makalous Shawnee City Council Candidate, Ward 4

Walters: No. Our rights do not stop at county lines or city limits. I favor repealing all mask mandates and certainly would not approve of one in Shawnee.