Emily Boullear seeks spot in ward one
wo candidates will face off for a Parkville Board of Aldermen seat in the Tuesday, April 6 election.
Incumbent Philip Wassmer will face newcomer Emily Boullear for the ward one seat on the eight-member board.
Although Emily Boullear, 34, has lived full-time in Parkville for about a year, she also has spent some time in her father’s Parkville home while he was living. After his recent death, she inherited his home and has become fond of Parkville.
During door-to-door campaigning she says she has met more than 1,000 area residents, many who have further endeared her to the area and taught her about their concerns, which include apprehension about how the board spends taxpayer dollars, especially in numerous tax incentives for use in constructing the massive Creekside development. She said many residents interpret the incentives as elected officials favoring developers over citizens.
The city is also embroiled in a lawsuit brought in an open records lawsuit.
“I think you have to produce documents,” she said, adding that not producing requested materials is unethical. “There’s no way around it-it’s state law.”
Many citizens also have told Boullear they dislike the new downtown office building, feeling as if it doesn’t match the aesthetics of Parkville’s old charm. In addition, many longtime residents have been frustrated for years about infrastructure, including a lack of curbs on many streets, she said.
Many citizens expressed dissatisfaction with a current proposal to install ball field lights and a sound system next to a recently established wetlands and habitat restoration area in Platte Landing Park.
Boullear, who was raised in Johnson County and has a bachelors’ degree in linguistics from the University of Kansas, said she believes the city would be acting “irresponsibly” to allow the ballpark and accompanying amenities so close to the habitat area that it would destroy area wildlife homes and food source. She described the proposal as being “in conflict conceptually with the wetlands.”
If elected, Boullear, who has a masters’ degree in Homeland Securities Studies, said she “will do my homework on every single vote,” which includes capturing public sentiment by meeting personally with residents.
She questions the need for more baseball fields, when six fields already exist as part of the Creekside development.
“That’s a lot of ballfields already,” she said. “I’m not sure why we need more.”
Boullear said her experience in several jobs has taught her the importance of thorough investigation before deciding on issues. The jobs range from insurance investigator, where she investigated instances of fraud, to paralegal in the public defender’s office, where she advocated for the rights of young people caught up in human trafficking and Americorps Vista, which is like the peace corps only within the country.
Boullear said she considers herself a humanitarian and has the volunteer resume’ that proves her passion. She co-founded a program that donates books to those in juvenile and immigration detention. She learned, while working for the public defender’s office, that many such detainees lack reading material and did research through which she learned that those being detained have a greater chance of furthering their education once released if they have access to reading materials.
Boullear said, if elected, she wants to focus on strengthening integrity at city hall.
She said, “I just really want to bring a breath of fresh air to the board of aldermen and do what’s right.”
Philip Wassmer, 60, has made Parkville home for the past 15 years and noted that the city “has changed tremendously” since he and his wife, Barbara, established a home there, where they raised three children. Wassmer, who called the small city “a little post card to the world,” first joined the board to finish an unfulfilled term after a sitting alderman resigned.
He said the controversy surrounding Platte Landing Park and whether to allow ball field lighting and a sound system there the “single biggest issue” he’ll face as an alderman. He opposes adding the amenities to the ball fields because of the detrimental impact on the attached wetlands. He and fellow alderman Tina Welch, who together represent residents in ward one, are working to convince other aldermen to abandon the idea of allowing competitive play at the fields with the added amenities. He said residents are against the idea due to quality-of-life issues and that the destruction to wildlife makes the plan untenable.
He discounted the civil lawsuit filed against city officials which names each of the eight-member board of aldermen, Mayor Nan Johnston, and City Administrator Joe Parente, as unjustified. The days when cities over-use tax incentives are over, he said and added, “it’s easy to sue the city for any reason.but it sure does sell papers.”
“We are perfectly suited to have something unique here,” he said. “Let the town grow up around it and don’t overbuild,” he said.
Wassmer has owned and operated a stone cast manufacturing company for the past 34 years. His firm, which has four employees, creates architectural products such as fireplace mantels and columns. Wassmer also sits on the board for Banneker School, Platte County’s first public school for black children, constructed during the 1880s. The board is charged with raising funds to renovate the facility.
Wassmer, who grew up in Ottawa, Kan. and lived in Prairie Village prior to moving to Parkville, also is a member of the committee whose members determine eligibility for renovation funds through a city grant known as 353. He said the project is misunderstood by many residents.
“I know people look at this as a run-amuck tax incentive and it’s not,” he said. He said the results of the project are evident to anyone who ventures to downtown Parkville. He said, “People are re-investing in these properties.Parkville is looking really, really good right now.”