Diane Forte is running for a Lee’s Summit City Council seat in District 1.
She’s the first announced candidate for the seat being vacated by Councilman Kathy Hofmann, whose term is expiring. Hofmann cannot run for reelection in April because of term limits.
Forte has political experience from serving six years on the Raymore-Peculiar School District Board of Education, before moving to the Raintree Lake subdivision in Lee’s Summit in 1995.
She said she hadn’t planned to reenter politics but reached her decision at the urging of many other people.
“I’m a community-minded person,” Forte said. “We have a lot of things going for us, but we can do a lot of things better.”
Her background in this community includes being chair-emeritus of the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, and she’s on the board of Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, Inc. and the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council.
She is married to Mitch Forte, has two grown children and five grandchildren.
She said she’d bring a common-sense approach to council decisions.
“I feel like I’m pretty open-minded and listen, but I’m not afraid to speak out,” Forte said.
Forte said she would be a strong supporter of downtown and the parks departments, two factors in Lee’s Summit’s quality of life that will help with future economic development.
“Downtown makes us different from all the other cities people compare us to,” Forte said. “Downtown is vital.”
She said she is not against bringing more bars or restaurants downtown, and wants to see continued success and growth for boutique shops.
She is half-owner of Dean’s Trophies on SW Main in downtown Lee’s Summit.
She said she’d like to see the city find a way to encourage filling the prominent vacancy on the southeast corner Third and Douglas streets.
On economic incentives, she said she would weigh each proposal for tax abatements or tax-increment financing on its own merits.
She said the city does need to explore ways to create more jobs and industry, to keep the city’s tax base healthy.
Forte said as the first woman president of the Ray-Pec’s Board of Education and she realized she needed to solicit advice and knowledge of many community leaders with experience, especially as it was a difficult time for the district. She said she’d do the same if elected to the council.
As a council member, she noted she'd be respectful of staff and their expertise, while doing her research and forming an opinion; and she believes in trying to keep constituents informed as she makes decisions.
She said she wouldn’t make decisions based on which interest group is most vocal, but will consider all sides then for the betterment of the entire Lee’s Summit community.
“If you get elected, you have to have the trust you’ll make the best decision you can,” Forte said.