Newly elected Mayor Mike Todd and aldermen Dale Arnold, Rick Knox, and Ryan Skinner took the oath of office during the April 25th Board of Aldermen meeting, but not before the current board recognized its outgoing members for their service.
Mayor Pro Tem Shea Bass issued proclamations recognizing the service of Ward I Alderman Jayci Stratton, Ward III Alderman Bob Headley, who served the City for 16 years, and outgoing mayor Chuck Johnston.
Prior to the oath of office by Todd, Arnold, Knox, and Skinner, new GVPD officer Lisa Romano took the oath of office. Romano will serve as a school resource officer for South Middle School, Stony Point Elementary, and Sni-A-Bar Elementary.
The new Board quickly went to work on a series of resolutions, approving the 2022-23 employee health, dental, and vision insurance plan elections and rates, and a resolution to establish procedures for public access to city facilities. The Board also approved the first reading of an ordinance that amends current Chapter 215 of the City's code of ordinances pertaining to nonconsensual pornography and public indecency, in an effort to protect the public from the dissemination of private sexual images.
In other business, Police Chief James Beale noted the prescription drug take back and shredding event this Saturday, April 30th. The prescription drug take back event will be held from 10:00am - 2:00pm; the shredding event for Grain Valley residents will be held until 1:00pm.
The next meeting of the Board of Aldermen will be held May 9, 2022 at 7:00pm in Council Chambers at Grain Valley City Hall.
Following the April 25th meeting, Valley News spoke with outgoing mayor Chuck Johnston regarding his time in office and plans for the future.
Looking back on his two years as mayor, Johnston pointed to the progress on promises made during his initial campaign.
"When I ran for office in 2020, my campaign promises were to focus on road and curb maintenance, try to lower taxes, and to sell off some of the properties that had been bought in the past with no apparent purpose. When I took office in June of 2020, the previous administration had budgeted $350,000 (for road improvements) for each of the next three years '20, '21, and '22. For a total $1,050,000. Through my encouragement, the help of City staff, and cooperation of the Board of Aldermen, we were able to increase that to $3.2 million. Our roads are in terrible condition, and this went a long way in catching back up. On the tax side we did have the largest single reduction of $.15 in the history of Grain Valley. We have also been able to sell a lot from the property at Sni-A-Bar and Buckner Tarsney to Mid-Continent Public Library, we have an offer on the Nichols Building, and there is some activity on the lots between Sodanos and the laundromat. So I was able to make very strong head way in to what I had promised. We were also able to get the proposal for the new Police Station passed in the April election. Something that is well overdue," Johnston said.
After another contentious election cycle, Johnston was asked what has driven him to stay active in local elected service, and any advice he may have for those considering a run for office.
"What has kept me going is wanting to make a difference in the future of our city. It is not true that public service isn't rewarding; maybe not in the ways most think but I do take pride in knowing that I've made a difference in the lives of the citizens I represent. Yes, at times it can be very frustrating, and no matter what you do you hear a lot more complaints than thank you's, but you have to remember the complainers are generally the most vocal. You have to remember if you go into politics, be a person of your word and your supporters will appreciate your efforts, but you will never make everyone happy. Just be true to yourself and your convictions - that is the best you can do."
Johnston will continue his service to the community through Grain Valley's Santa Bus.
"I have been doing it for the past 26 years and I intend on doing it as long as I'm able. It keeps me busy throughout the year, either during the Christmas season or getting the toys and bus ready for the next year. I have never done anything as rewarding as seeing the kids that really believe they have met Santa."
When asked if another run for office is in his future, Johnston was succinct.
"I don't think you can get rid of me this easily. I've been at it a long time and I still see things I think need to be changed."
Aldermen Dale Arnold, Rick Knox, and Ryan Skinner took the oath of office during the April 25th Board of Aldermen meeting. Photo credit: Valley News staff