Mayor's June Newsletter

Dear Mission Woods Residents -


It’s my privilege to serve you as mayor through the end of the year, taking over for Darrell Franklin. First off, let me thank Darrell for his service to our city and extend him and Laurie best wishes as they transition to their next chapter in Baltimore.


Just a little about me: When I say I’m privileged to be able to serve, I mean that: I’m fortunate to be at a time in life where I’ve stepped away from the 9 - 5 and can see what happens when I say “yes” to opportunities that present themselves. That means a lot of creative pursuits - devoting more time to ceramics and photography (visit me at the Downtown Overland Park Art Fair, June 23-24!), curating the 80 Santa Fe Art Gallery, and doing photography, video and website design for my wife Nancy’s communications and marketing company.


And of course, in a series of events that could only happen in Mission Woods, I have also become involved in the city, first as a city council member, then council president, now mayor. It has been fascinating and instructive to see the nuts and bolts of local government in action. My plan is to do these email newsletters monthly, to keep the business of the city as transparent as possible.


One of the first opportunities I see to make a difference is in the category of business continuity. In a city largely run by volunteers, it is important to make transitions as easy as possible. Darrell has been very generous with his time after he stepped away, but there are digital tools that will help make it easier for me and others to hand off responsibility to those who come after us. The first simple example of that is establishing a Google account for the city, so that this email address will go to the next mayor and will contain a history of what happened during my time. I also plan to take advantage of the account’s online storage for documents and templates, so that others helping run the city in the future will have access to them.


Getting involved

Speaking of continuity, Mission Woods has always relied on residents stepping up to make sure we remain a vibrant, but stable city. One sign of the health of the city is a full slate of candidates putting their names forward to give us choices at the ballot box. The deadline to file for mayor and city council in the November election, to begin serving in 2024 is noon on Thursday, June 1. Amazingly, in this digital age, you must file in person at the Johnson County Election office in Olathe. To learn more about the duties entailed with being Mission Woods Mayor or a City Council member, please get in touch with me, Robert Tietze, Don Greenwell, Carrol Thomas, Erica Hartley or Ramsey Mohsen. (Contact info on the city website, in the new directory).


There are also regular openings on the City Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Architectural Review Board. Let me know if you have interest in being appointed to any of these groups. And I’m sure Barbara Haviland would welcome help with the Mission Woods Home Owners Association and the events it puts on.


Mission Woods trivia question: the U.S. lists the population for our city every 10 years, starting in 1950. What was the peak year for population? What was the lowest population? Answers at the end.


Attorney search process

As you might have heard, our long-time legal representative, Mauer Law Firm, has made the decision to resign as of June 30. A committee composed of Erica Hartley, Robert Tietze, Bill Sanders and I will soon be looking at responses from local firms and interviewing those that look like a good fit for Mission Woods. If all goes well, we should expect a seamless transition in a role that is critical to the ongoing health of the city. Thanks to resident Jessie James for her input in this process.



Someone told me that of all the issues that face local cities, streetlights are at the top of the list of topics that generate divergent opinions. Thanks to residents who came out to our last city council meeting to express their views on the current streetlight project, which will put two lights near the entrance to Mission Woods Terrace and one light near the entrance to Mission Woods Road. Last year, a lighting consultant recommended 17 new light fixtures to generate even lighting across the city, but given differing opinions, even on the council, we tabled any action. Last December, responding to resident requests for more lighting in the two areas near Shawnee Mission Parkway, the council voted to proceed with installing lights, which should happen over the next few months.


License plate readers

Increasingly, local cities and Johnson County are implementing license plate reader technology, passive systems used after a crime to aid in tracking down the perpetrators. These systems will improve in capability as the county moves toward a centralized system. Like others, I was initially concerned about the “big brother” aspects of systems like this, but presentations by a local vendor and law enforcement officials gave some reassurance that the systems are only used post-crime. That said, these systems won’t be visually pleasing at the entrances to our city streets, necessitating installing a pole and solar panel for each one. And of course, they cost. The vendor we have been in discussion with quoted around $12,000 a year. We are currently exploring what would be entailed to receive a federal grant to cover the costs. Given grant and budget cycles, this would likely put installation into 2025. Stay tuned.


Budget priorities

In the June city council meeting, which will be Tuesday, June 6 at 7 p.m., we will begin discussions with John Martin of Higdon & Hale (the city’s Treasurer and CPA firm) about our 2024 budget. As with all city council meetings, you are welcome to attend and offer your perspective.


Go green

Mission Woods, along with other Northeast Johnson County cities, is a sponsor of the Go Green environmental fair, which had its inaugural event last year and will be held again this September. The fair was awarded the “MARC Most Outstanding Green Event” in 2022. If you’d like to save the date, the 2023 Go Green fair will be Saturday, September 23 from 9 a.m. – noon at the Powell Community Center 6200 Martway in Mission. The fair will offer free, helpful information on sustainable, environment-friendly practices to benefit people in their home, businesses, and in all aspects of their lives. Activities, both fun and educational, will be available for children.


What do you think?

I’d like to hear what you think about streetlights, license plate readers and other topics. Please take this 2-minute survey, as it will be very helpful for me and the council members to get your feedback.


Quiz answers

According to U.S. Census data provided by the University of Kansas, Mission Woods was most populous in 1960, with 243 residents, and least populous in 2000, with 165 residents. Surprisingly, according to this (somewhat outdated) data, there are at least 250 cities smaller than Mission Woods in Kansas.


Best regards,


Keith Mays 

City of Mission Woods Mayor