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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. —Ahead of the general election on Nov. 2, FOX4 is working 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 Prairie Village, Cole Michael Robinson is competing with Thorne Daimler to represent the 1st Ward on the Prairie Village City Council. 

Here’s a look at what Daimler and Robinson had to say:  

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

Daimler: Taxes. With property values increasing at very high rates, I’d like to seek a mill rate reduction for all residents. City spending has gotten out of control and we need to reign it in. Residents can’t afford the current approach to the budget. I am a licensed financial advisor who manages money and provides financial plans for clients. Prairie Village City Council needs my professional expertise. 

Robinson: Local property taxes have risen dramatically in recent years. Currently, just about 16% of our property tax bill goes to Prairie Village, with the average Prairie Village resident paying about $70/month in municipal taxes. The council must be a good steward of those funds, prioritizing safety, infrastructure, and amenities that enhance a resident’s everyday life, while investing in the future growth and progress of our city. Residents demand and deserve top value for their tax dollars, and I’ll work to keep the city’s priorities focused there.

Q: Prairie Village was the first city in Johnson County to issue a city-wide mask mandate. Do you feel this was the right decision? If elected, what metric would you use to determine COVID precautions in the future?

Daimler: I assume you are referring to the most recent mask mandate passed in August. I do not believe it was the right decision since there was not adequate time given to understand the concerns and desires of residents and businesses. I fear for the impact this will have on local commerce. 

Many have said they will do their grocery shopping in nearby cities since they do not have a mandate. The City does not have a health department so the decision should be left up to the County. Also, the zip code in which Prairie Village resides (66208), has 64.8% of eligible residents vaccinated vs. the county rate of 60.8%. We should be proud of our vaccine progress and continue to incentivize residents to talk to their medical professionals about getting vaccinated. 

COVID is likely to be around for a long time, it is not something that can be eradicated, just like the seasonal flu. Our federal, state and county health departments are doing their part in educating residents about mitigation efforts and how to coexist with this virus. Giving residents the information and allowing them to decide how to manage their health is the best approach.

Cole Robinson Prairie Village City Council Candidate, Ward 1

Robinson: The health and safety of our community is my top priority. We all want our kids to be in school, our businesses to be open, and this pandemic to be over. To that end, the CDC, county health officials, and local medical officers have all made it clear what we need to do: those who can get vaccinated should and we all need to mask up during times of high transmissions. 

Residents, local business owners, and employees asked the city for a mask ordinance in response to the Delta variant so that we all would have clear, consistent guidance. By requiring masks, the council responded to those concerns and acted on the advice of medical and public health experts in an effort to keep our community safe and open. In making decisions in the future, I would continue to lean on and follow the advice of the CDC, county health officials, and our local medical officers.

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

Daimler: The money spent on studies, legal fees, and administrative expenses is growing at an alarming rate. Each of the pet projects the current city council passes adds a huge administrative burden to our city’s staff, which ultimately increases our labor costs. I would refocus the city’s attention to safety and infrastructure and cut spending on the non-essential projects. Many households have had to cut back during the pandemic, the city should be doing the same.

Robinson: I would work to maintain the quality services that our residents expect, while making smart investments for the future. Currently, about 75% of city spending goes towards our police department and public works – our roads, parks, and critical infrastructure. I will work to keep our spending focused on those priorities. At this time, I do not support any further increases to our municipal tax rate, known as the “mill levy.”

Q: The city council is in the process of researching a potential plan to decriminalize marijuana possession within the city. Would you support the decriminalization of marijuana in Prairie Village? Please explain why or why not.

Thorne Daimler Prairie Village City Council Candidate, Ward 1

Daimler: I base my answer on the advice and input from the professionals- the Prairie Village Police Chief and Johnson County District Attorney. They both recommend against decriminalizing marijuana in Prairie Village. They believe a policy like this would create more crime and safety issues for our residents.

Instead, this issue should be addressed at the state and federal level. There are bigger problems in Prairie Village the council should be focused on, like lowering taxes and improving infrastructure and safety. If Prairie Village does want to decriminalize it, I’d prefer to let the decision be made by citizens as a ballot measure if possible. 

Robinson: I appreciate the intent behind the effort to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in our city. I do not feel that this issue, however, is one to be advanced unilaterally at the municipal level. We need changes at the state or ideally the federal level to meaningfully move decriminalization and other impactful criminal justice measures forward.  For the time being, I will defer to our chief of police, Byron Roberson, for continued guidance on this issue.