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OLATHE, Kan. — In the race to represent the 4th Ward on the Olathe City Council, small business owner Dustin Morris challenges incumbent Marge Vogt, who has served on the council since 1997.

With the general election less than a month away, 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. Here’s what Morris and Vogt had to say: 

Q: What qualifications do you have that make you stand out from the other candidates? 

Morris: As a small business owner, I am uniquely aware of what qualities business owners look for when locating their business. I am also a first-time candidate for local office and I believe I will bring a fresh perspective to the Olathe City Council. And I am the only candidate who has the pledge to serve no more than 3 terms.

Vogt: It has been my privilege to represent the citizens of Ward 4. A hallmark of my leadership is based on citizen participation with a vision to ensure a healthy community, now and for the future, focusing on quality of life, safety, fiscal stability and economic opportunity for all. We have seen tremendous growth in Olathe over the past 20 years which continues to be nationally noted many times over as being one of the best communities in which to live, work and play. 

Direction Finders, our citizens survey, finds that 73% of our population are satisfied with the value they receive for their tax dollars, ranking in the top 10% in the nation. Olathe is recognized as #1 in the nation for overall satisfaction with city services. Actions speak louder than words and my accomplishments speak for themselves. However, I will not rest on those laurels but continue to ever improve on our successes and provide sustainability for the future. 

Finally, I believe that my engagement in the community, passion and ability to not only look at the needs of Olathe today, but for the future is what differentiates me from my opponent. 

Q: What are your views on the use of benefit districts and other tax-based incentives to fund infrastructure improvements?

Morris: I am generally opposed to using taxpayer funds or special benefit districts. If a business is viable it should have to compete in the open market without having to rely on local taxpayers to support their endeavor.

Also, homeowners in Olathe have recently expressed their frustration with the use of special tax districts that function as “secret” property taxes on homeowners. If elected, I will ask city staff to review all existing special tax districts and the requirements and benchmarks in place for approving new districts. 

Vogt: One of the most recent issues presented before the Council was the the request for several benefit districts on the west side of Olathe. 

Marge Vogt, Olathe City Council Candidate, Ward 4

In regard to benefit districts, I was the first Council Member during the proceedings to voice my opposition, the need to review current benefit district policies, and indicated that I would support a policy that would no longer allow residential benefit districts. 

In regard to tax based incentives, tax incentives can be a valuable tool to draw desirable businesses to Olathe that provide good paying jobs and increase our tax base thereby taking the tax burden off the homeowner.

Additionally, these businesses assist in paying for transportation infrastructure to accommodate growth in our community. However, before any incentives are made, there must be a thorough analysis to ensure that there is a positive return on the investment being made by the city. This tool, used primarily for commercial business, may also be valuable in addressing affordable/accessible housing needs.

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. 

Morris: I would not support additional mandates beyond existing county health orders. I believe restaurants and businesses can regulate themselves and citizens can choose what they believe is best for their health. Wearing a mask into a restaurant and taking it off once you sit down is kabuki theater. I would not support a vaccine mandate if imposed by any government authority.

Vogt: The City of Olathe does not have a Public Health Department as a part of its services and relies on the health professionals in the County and State to provide accurate public health information and direction.