Joe Spallo is running to return to a City Council seat in District 3, saying he wants to be a voice for that district’s constituents.
He said another reason he’s running is because it’s always important for voters to have a choice.
His opponent, so far, is Diane Seif.
Voters elected Spallo in 1995 and re-elected him four times, he served until his term expired in 2012. He had to sit out one election cycle because of term limits.
He said that as a council member he helped guide the city through a boom.
“There was a lot of growth in the city, most of it positive, some of it wasn’t, but we got through it,” Spallo said. “Unfortunately, a lot of it was funded with taxpayer-funded handouts that I don’t agree with, from a philosophical standpoint.”
He said he thinks the council needs to discuss setting an overall policy on incentives, rather than continuing to approach them piecemeal as each developer comes to the trough.
“That’s the kind of debate the council needs to have,” Spallo said.
Spallo has been a resident of Lee’s Summit 25 years. He’s been self-employed 21 years, his business, Interstate Tax Associates, has always been in the city, although in different offices, most recently located on Third Street since 2007.
He said his small business background is a plus for residents.
“I can relate to the small guy and the struggles ordinary people have,” Spallo said.
He is a volunteer for UNICO, a Italian-American organization which raises money for college scholarships, and also does a lot of free tax preparation for senior citizens. He also was active in raising money for the Veteran’s Memorial in Howard Station Park.
He characterized himself as honest and conservative in spending and in asking residents for more city revenue.
Spallo said a challenge the city must face is flat sales tax revenues, which hasn’t kept up with growth from the past, although the way to do so isn’t through incentives.
“You don’t spend your way to prosperity, that philosophy was proved wrong years ago,” Spallo said.
The city needs to find ways to reestablish sales-tax producing businesses along corridors of Missouri 291 and U.S. 50, Spallo said.
He said the city should emphasize qualities it has to offer, such as a low crime rate, great response times by fire and police departments, planning for roadways and zoning to attract business.
“Core things government should provide for,” Spallo said.
He advocates the council completing a plan for what businesses it wants to see in those areas, balancing community needs with individual property rights.
He said people sometimes misunderstood his positions, that he can support rezoning or a project, but still be opposed to incentives for that particular endeavor.
He said he continues to oppose spending money to expand Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport to attract bigger jets, even if Missouri and the federal government are willing to provide much of the funding. He said studies commissioned by the city don’t show any significant growth from improvements to handle more jets, so it should maintain the airport as it is.
Spallo remarked that he hasn’t changed his approach to running the city.
He said he tries to keep in mind that when a constituent calls, that is the most important thing about the city to that person at that moment, advice he’d gotten from former mayor Al Johnson.
Spallo said he’s attended 90 percent of the meetings and proud of responding to residents’ questions or complaints.
“I have a track record for people to look at,” Spallo said.