Parks, community growth at center of primary race for Lenexa City Council’s 4th Ward

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LENEXA, Kan. — In Lenexa, Hophine Bwosinde, Scott Callaway and Craig Denny are competing for voter support to represent the city’s 4th Ward on the city council.

Ahead of the Aug. 3 primary, FOX4 is working to help voters understand where candidates stand on issues impacting residents in the metro.  FOX4 sent out a questionnaire to all primary candidates in Johnson County. 

FOX4 did not receive a response from Callaway. Here’s what Bwosinde and Denny had to say: 

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

Bwosinde: Continue to elevate Lenexa’s visibility & activity locally, nationally & globally for business investment & trade. Lenexa is a great place for families & for businesses. We want to make sure we attract the best & the brightest the world has to offer. One area we need to focus on is bringing new businesses, new employers, to Lenexa and reach out in our state, across our nation, and the world attracting great businesses to boost our economy.

Denny: Continue to make Lenexa attractive to new or expanding commercial developments to grow our tax base. Continuing responsible growth consistent with our comprehensive plan and Vision 2040 enables Lenexa to provide the high level of services and amenities that Lenexa residents expect.

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

 Craig Denny Lenexa City Council Candidate, Ward 4

Bwosinde: Growth and the environment. We must be planning and building a city for the future paying attention to congestion, having less pollution, supporting our schools and library system. Perhaps bringing in environmentally friendly public transportation, saving people money and saving pollutants from entering the air. 

Focus on planting trees & having green spaces – Keep our parks safe. Have green areas, trails and bike lanes. Utilizing the latest technologies for waste management. Focus on families – Easy access to swimming pools and other family centers

Denny: An ongoing challenge is attracting and retaining highly qualified employees at all levels across all departments so that Lenexa continues to provide the high level of services that our residents have come to expect. To do so requires Lenexa to continue to grow our tax base, particularly the commercial sector, in a reasonable and strategic manner so we can reduce the burden on residents.   

Q:In June the Lenexa City Council voted to keep the Ad Astra Pool despite a recommendation to close the aging aquatic center. Do you support this decision? What plans do you have for improving city pools and parks? 

Bwosinde: I support the decision to keep Ad Astra Pool. The pool is important to the community around it. Yes, we have a new aquatic center, but it is not easily accessible to families and kids. Renovating the pool – and perhaps the park there would revitalize the neighborhood. I was told by a local resident how important that pool is to them, their family, and now their children. These things are important.

Hophine Bwosinde Lenexa City Council Candidate, Ward 4

City pools and parks are vital to be a top city. We need green spaces. We need to work to utilize our pools & parks. We can promote more activities through the city’s Parks & Rec department. We should attract more events that bring people to our parks. These events will provide some of the needed revenue for parks and area businesses. 

The Ethnic Enrichment Festival that is sponsored by Kansas City’s Ethnic Enrichment Commission attracts 60,000 people over a 2 ½ day period. Many of the commissions in the Ethnic Enrichment Commission are from Johnson County. Our resources are attracting money to KC, MO. We can utilize our resources, these commissions, to both promote the community they represent and bring people to our city for events. We need to have bike trails that connect all of our parks and other important destinations around our city – especially those that are family related

Denny: I support the decision of the city council to improve facilities at Sar-Ko-Par Trails and Ad Astra Pool sites. I have been on Lenexa’s Parks and Recreation Board for more than 25 years, during which time, Lenexa improved Sar-Ko-Par (1998) and Flat Rock Creek (2012) pools. I am well aware of issues related to the Ad Astra pool. The City Council and Park Board members recently toured aquatic facilities in neighboring communities. As I have done for years on the Park Board, I will listen to staff recommendations and resident’s expectations for our pools and parks.

Q: Lenexa has a mill levy of roughly 29.24, which is higher than other neighboring cities in Johnson County. Do you feel the mill levy should be adjusted? How would lowering the mill levy impact city services? 

Bwosinde: 93% of Lenexa residents have overwhelmingly stated they are happy with the quality of life in Lenexa. 89% have said they are satisfied with the overall quality of services. The mill levy supports this quality of life.

I would consider lowering the mill levy in response to the impacts of the pandemic. It could then go back to its current levels. Fiscal responsibility is the key here. Families & businesses need to be able to see and access the services supported by the mill levy. They need to trust the money is well spent and benefits all of Lenexa’s residents.

Denny: I support the 2022 budget presented to the city council on June 22, which recommends a 1% reduction in the city mil rate to 28.942 mils. If elected, I will support continued reduction of our mil rate provided 1) growth of Lenexa’s tax base continues, 2) the city continues to maintain appropriate reserves and 3) the city ensures that Lenexa residents continue to receive high quality services they deserve.  

According to the 2019 ETC Survey, when asked to rate their “overall value that you receive for your City tax dollars and fees”, 70% of Lenexa respondents indicated they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied”.  This compared to a KC Metro response rate of 51% and the U.S. Average response rate of 37%. 

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