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MISSION, Kan. —In Johnson County, advanced voting for the general election will be available through Tuesday, October 26. 

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 Mission, Ben Chociej and Ray Ruecker will go head to head to represent the 4th Ward on the Mission City Council. 

Here’s a look at what the candidates had to say: 

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

Chociej: Smart growth and development. Mission is at an important point in its timeline. We face a number of new development opportunities, while also meeting some challenges that require continued investment.

Ray Ruecker, Mission City Council Candidate, Ward 4

For example, many residential streets and pieces of storm water infrastructure are badly in need of maintenance, and our parks need a number of updates such as restrooms, new playground equipment, and shelters.

It is my goal to help steer Mission toward smart development projects that will bring density and mixed-use construction where appropriate, so that Mission can grow its tax base to help cover the costs of these necessary investments. Additionally, smart development will increase patronization at our local businesses and provide much needed housing in northeast Johnson County.

Ruecker: Not necessarily a policy issue, but getting a fair and quick resolution for the Mission Gateway.

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

Chociej: I would like to see Mission invest more in transit and transit-oriented development as well as other transportation alternatives such as bikesharing, trail connectivity, and improved pedestrian infrastructure.

Ruecker: I’d like for the city to live in financial integrity, living within its means if at all possible.

Q; What is your view on the use of tax incentives for new development? What criteria would you use when determining if incentives like Tax Increment Financing (TIFs), tax abatements or the creation of a Community Improvement District (CID) should be granted to developers wanting to build within the city? 

Ben Chociej, Mission City Council Candidate, Ward 4

Chociej: Tax incentives are only appropriate when they create a net benefit for the city. They should never be used merely to spur development without a clear return on investment.

Recent projects that have received incentives have reciprocated with affordable units, environmental certification, public dedications and easements, and infrastructure improvements. The agreements behind these incentives have also been carefully structured by city staff to effect a clear net tax benefit upon completion of the project. This is the right way to use incentives, and when used this way they can be a powerful tool. But we must never use them as giveaways that only serve to make a project financially attractive for private developers.

Ruecker: It needs to be a win-win, show a favorable ROI [return on investment], but also have a completion date. Not something that lasts for 16 years, plus.