LIBERTY — Liberty Mayor Lyndell Brenton, who is seeking his fifth term, will face two challengers at the ballot box April 6. They are Damien Jones, an applications administrator, and Darcel Smith, a driver with Traditional Logistics and Cartage.
Each candidate was given a questionnaire about city issues and asked to limit responses to 50 words per answer. Answers longer than 50 words have been cut off and replaced with an ellipsis. Answers are published in alphabetical order of candidate last name.
Candidates were also asked to record elaborated answers to questions in person. Smith had a scheduling conflict and could not record answers. The following are some of the responses from the remaining candidates.
How do you define the role of mayor and the relationship between the city’s mayor and Liberty City Council?
Brenton: “Caretaker of Liberty’s past, present and future. Administering policies, legislation and services; visioning goals, strategies, economic vitality and growth initiatives; preserving Liberty’s heritage and character. The mayor leads the city council and staff fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect that delivers successful results for Liberty.”
Jones: “The main role of the mayor should be to listen to the community and his constituents and make decisions based on what is best for the residents of Liberty, MO.”
Smith:“I define the role of mayor and Liberty City Council as a team. We have to work together to continuously improve the city of Liberty, the residents and the community as a whole. The greatest thing a mayor can do is to be able to unite the entire community ... .”
What is your No. 1 goal for your term, if elected?
Brenton: “There are significant greenfield acreages throughout Liberty. One or more will likely require generational decisions determining the best development use for long-term vitality and character. The council, city staff and I are prepared and experienced in analyzing and negotiating agreements that serve the greatest common good for Liberty.”
Jones: “To bring a sense of community and family back to our city.”
Smith: “My No. 1 goal is to ensure the health and happiness within the city of Liberty and its people; whether it be ensuring we have adequate vaccinations for our city or improving parks and recreation for adults and children.”
What areas of economic development does Liberty need to improve as the city continues to grow, and how, as mayor, will you work to improve them?
Brenton: “In 2019 I told this newspaper, ‘Liberty needs to expand our inventory of industrial/business park properties.’ Since then, Liberty has expanded 700,000 sq. ft. under roof with 4 million more under construction providing jobs and economic vitality. Greenfield acreage development needs improving. If elected, I will continue delivering results.”
Jones: “Our Square to be reenergized, and the local business owners need to know they have someone who cares and listens to their needs.”
Smith: “I will work with the city council to see what improvements need to be made that some of them have seen over the years that need to be updated or changed. I believe a major updating is more training and mental health help for police officers. They also need a salary increase ... .”
Are salaries for Liberty emergency personnel adequate? If not, how do you propose they be addressed?
Brenton: “Compensation for Liberty’s emergency professionals is marketplace competitive. The council and I implemented increases for public safety wages/salaries effective January 2021, making entry-level salaries more competitive and addressing retention of tenured personnel. We will continue to create revenue opportunities through tax base growth and extinguishment of tax abatements.”
Jones: “I do not have that information available. I would need to know what the current salaries are, and what the competitive wages are in relation. The more the competitive wage our local personnel are able to make, the more qualified individuals we can recruit.”
Smith: “I plan to look further into the budget to see how police, first responders, firefighters and other agencies vital to the safety of our community can be better compensated for all their time, courage, and putting their lives on the line each and every day to protect and serve.”
Should property tax rates for city residents be increased? Why or why not?
Brenton: “Not at this time. City services are provided to Liberty’s citizens and thousands of nonresidents that visit our city daily. These services are funded through a blend of sales and property taxes. Increasing property taxes at this time would place a disproportionate tax burden on the backs of Liberty property owners."
Jones: “We should find a way to increase tax revenue, not increase taxes.”
Smith: “I believe property taxes in Liberty are extremely inflated. I do not believe they should be increased. I will work to see what ways things can be improved efficiently without raising the city of Liberty’s taxes.”