Diane Forte, District 1 city council candidate

March 28, 2014 

1. In the midst of budget shortfalls for the city, are there specific programs, positions or other cuts you would be in favor of making?

It is difficult to respond not having all of the information that the council has in front of them and without knowing all of the variables necessary to make these decisions. However I do have past experience in a school district, and running a small business for 35 plus years and when the revenues and the budget were not where we would have liked them to be. When this happens, it is necessary to make hard decisions and in order to make those decisions, you have to look at every line item and find ways of trimming and tweaking. When it involves the staff, it is always best to empower them to assist in the decision making. In 2008 as a business owner when the economy really tanked for us, our employees opted to take off one day each week without pay rather than eliminate a position. This worked well for us and it only lasted for three weeks before things started turning around. As a council member I am not in favor of making decisions that do not ensure our community the best possible police and fire protection. The best way to solve this problem, in the public sector as well as the private sector is to increase revenue.

2. Discussions about having an economic development component in city hall have recently surfaced. Do you favor adding additional funding to EDC and/or funding an additional position?

The City and the EDC have to work together for the future of Lee’s Summit. I think a liaison that works for the city but works side by side with EDC can be a great asset to both. I do not feel the head of the EDC should be a city employee, I feel with the structure of the investors that the EDC President should be a private sector employee who can balance both private investors, who are generally CEO’s of their own corporations, and who sit on many boards in our city with the public sector city hall staff. Their vision may be thinking outside the box but both should want the best for the city. More than likely they will have different ideas how to get there, but they can still work towards the same goal, as long as egos do not stand in their way of doing what is best for the City of Lee’s Summit. I believe they can complement each other, yet I understand this might be difficult but I truly think that this is totally possible. If more funding is necessary to generate development in our city and we can see the ROI…yes I would be in favor of that.

3. What topics would you like to see addressed at future city council retreats?

I would like the future retreats to address the elephant in the room, lack of leadership and the obvious one up culture the present council seems to have with one another. It is not my belief that the council “needs to all get along”, it is my belief that eight council members and the mayor can respect one another and not attempt to grand stand at every meeting because they feel like they can! I have knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order, and I do not think it is being followed. There should be a time limit for discussion after a motion is made and it is seconded. Once it is obvious that all council members have made their position known, is it necessary to keep harping or is it obvious that the motion will carry or be defeated. Respect for one another a clear and mutual vision of what we want our city to look like and we think is best for the entire city should always be the priority.

4. Arnold Hall, the arts and the approved outdoor performance space are all topics of discussion right now. What do you think should be done with Arnold Hall and are you in favor of the outdoor space remaining next to that structure?

I really wanted the outdoor performance space to be on Market but when that land became unavailable, at a price we were willing to pay, I was disappointed, as were others who worked so hard for that bond issue. We asked voters and they approved an outdoor performance space and regardless of where it is, we need to make sure that it is delivered in a quality product that is everything we promised it would be. Since then, Arnold Hall has been mentioned in about three different scenarios and at this time I am not leaning in one direction or the other. One thing I feel very strongly about, and that is I do not want to rush into a decision that we will regret in the future because we did not have the vision of what that space could do for the growth of the “whole Downtown” and having the citizens who voted for this space to be proud of the decision we made.

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