Sitting down with the mayor

Lee's Summit JournalMay 14, 2014 

Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads is vastly different than any of the other dozen or so mayors I have had the opportunity to know on a personal and professional level over my years as a journalist.

That probably goes without saying.

Rhoads is different than Karen Messerli, his predecessor. And they’re both different than mayors I worked with in Independence, or Iowa, or Cass County, or anywhere else for that matter.

Each mayor takes office with a specific skill set, vision and experience. Some have been at the dais for many years. Others are fairly new to politics.

In the first year or so of Rhoads’ tenure in office, there was a lot of back and forth in the community about how he would lead and differentiate himself from Messerli.

These are two very different leaders with styles that may be as opposite as two mayors I’ve ever known.

Karen liked to break a tie; Randy most certainly does not.

Karen would gavel you into next week; Randy will not.

Please do not mistake these differences as signs of strength or weakness. They are, frankly, just that – differences.

Sitting down with Mayor Rhoads a while back, I got to see the leader of this city away from the council chambers, without the pressures of eight councilmen surrounding him and, thankfully, with no gavel in sight.

Not that I was going to ask anything out of line…

I was appreciative of Rhoads’ willingness to answer a plethora of questions relating to topics that may have made some uncomfortable – including leadership style and accountability.

Now, did Rhoads’ answers resonate with city leaders, voters and constituents? That would be up to each individual to decide.

This past election was interesting in that no one challenged Rhoads for a second term, the other incumbent, Dave Mosby, also came back unopposed and three fresh faces joined the city council.

Maybe it’s too difficult to beat an incumbent in this town. I don’t even believe the sentence I just wrote, but perhaps that’s a prevailing thought.

What I learned from my one-on-one time with Randy, though, was pretty telling. And it didn’t hit me until well after the interview. And it’s this: if you want to know what’s on the mind of the mayor, just ask him.

And if you think he’s dancing too much around the answer, call him on that too.

I would have liked a more direct response on Summit Place, for example.

But then again, that’s not Randy’s style. He wants his council to make that decision. And really, the group should have done that before this past election.

Randy Rhoads has the luxury to be thoughtful, pensive and contemplative.

In his second term, we should also expect that he holds the council members to a standard of swift, well thought out decisions, respectful behavior and working toward the best interests of the city.

No matter what your style, that’s something we should ask of all mayors.

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John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail jbeaudoin@lsjournal.com.

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