hand dropping ballot in box with text meet the candidates

School Board and City Council Races Have Competition: Meet the Candidates

Filing for municipal elections came to a close on Tuesday, December 27 at 5:00 PM and there is some competition for seats on both the city council and board of education. The Excelsior Springs Board of Education will have two open seats and three candidates running. Excelsior Springs City Council has one seat to fill and three candidates vying for the position. In order to help you make the most informed choice, the Excelsior Citizen reached out to each candidate and asked them to provide a bit of information about themselves and why they are seeking election. (Candidates listed alphabetically by last name according to their race).

The three candidates for Excelsior Springs School Board are Josh Brown, Kalyn Goode, and Tray Harkins. Goode and Harkins are seeking re-election while Brown is seeking first-time election to the board.

Josh Brown
Candidate for Excelsior Springs Board of Education

I’ve been a resident of excelsior springs my entire life, I chose excelsior as a place to raise my children. We love this town, I have a daughter who attends the high school and a son who attends the middle school. I have been an active member of Wood heights fire department since 2016, I was the board president out there until November 2021. I am still a firefighter/First Responder. I am active in the elks lodge and masonic lodge #207. I want to help grow our community and offer ideas and plans to keep the education of our children the best it can be! Excelsior is a great community and our schools are what helps build the children into participating adults in this community. I have also advised for the career center in the Hvac program.

– Josh Brown

Kalyn Goode
Candidate for Excelsior Springs Board of Education

My name is Kalyn Goode, and I am a candidate for re-election, for my second term on the Excelsior Springs Board of Education. Serving on the board of Education has been such an exciting and humbling journey for me over the last few years. A little about me; I am a very involved mother of two children, and a graduate of Excelsior Springs. Serving the community and children of Excelsior has been one of my life’s greatest blessings. Not only do I serve on the Board of Education I also serve on a handful of other committees throughout town. I host, sponsor and facilitate the Little Miss & Mister Waterfest pageant during our towns biggest annual festival as well as self esteem classes for children outside of my businesses. I enjoy volunteering my time to various organizations around town being as involved as I can be beings joy to my heart.

As a local business owner with a multifaceted work history, I am well versed in so many aspects most wouldn’t think about when running a school district. I have a background in financial planning, budgets, grant writing for small businesses and community outreach. I can provide insight as a working parent and I have the first hand knowledge of what struggles families of our community might be facing. I know how hard it can be juggling all things life outside of a typical 9-5 job setting or even in one.

Some of my greatest accomplishments have been during my service on the Board of Education. I have been so proud of the work that our board has been able to achieve the last few years, during my term. We passed a “no tax” bond allowing us to build a brand new Elementary school, leaving no unused buildings behind. We have been able to expand our Early Childhood Center program and approve the addition to internal medical facilities partnering with Swope health. We have become more financially stable, allowing ourselves to increase teacher salaries & stipends. We have increased transparency within the district and set ourselves up for success, planning out our vision for growing our district. We have navigated our way through a pandemic none of us were prepared to handle which in itself is a huge accomplishment in my eyes.

I feel like I have developed a vital role as a board member. I have served on many important committees and projects. A few of the projects I have had the pleasure of working on are; the hiring of our new Superintendent, choosing new food service that has allowed us to do great things for our kids nutritionally, passing Prop T so we could build our new and beautiful Cornerstone Elementary. Serving on the CSIP committee with other community stake holders, developing the schools comprehensive plan, our most important document. One that sets our children and our district up for future success. I’ve represented the district in various negotiations and conferences. I am a trusted point of contact for the community, who know, I will always offer advice and advocate on their behalf and the behalf of their children.

My goal for my coming term is to see all of our children in healthy, updated facilities starting with Lewis Elementary. To see our children prosper and grow, striving academically with in place curriculum. To continue to grow our programs pre-K through grade 12. To continue to increase transparency within our district, to the best of my ability as well as continuing to support our staff and increase teacher salaries. Lastly, to continue to be as involved as I can and be a trusted point of contact and advocate for our stakeholders, patrons, staff members and children no matter how difficult.

I look forward to continuing to be able to serve our community and schools for the next three years, and would appreciate your vote in April. Thank you.

– Kalyn Goode

Tray Harkins
Candidate for Excelsior Springs Board of Education

It is hard to believe that three years has already passed and it’s time to look at goals achieved, but more importantly to look forward at goals yet to achieve.
Just a little about me. My name is Charles (Tray) Harkins, I am an Excelsior Springs Alum class of 1987 and lifetime Excelsior Resident. I have served as the President of the Gregg Williams Foundation for 12 years helping raise and donate back approximately $1,750,000 back to our school district and community for the betterment of our community. I have served on the Chamber of Commerce and worked with the Chamber to acquire the new Chamber owned Office on South Thompson. I served on the Community Center Steering committee that resulted in our community gaining something that we should all be proud of.
I have served and continue to serve on numerous boards and committees within the city, the school district and in our community.
Let’s look back at what we have achieved during my time on the Board of Education. Just recently with the confidence and support of the voters we where able to pass a no tax increase bond issue. This allowed us to build a brand-new state of the art Elementary School Cornerstone Elementary. It also allowed the district to enlarge our Early Childhood Education so that we are able assist more of our younger early learners pre-K. As promised there will be no empty remaining school buildings.
With the bond issue the district was also able to do some much needed work to the High School Commons, updated the lockers in both the middle school and high school while also doing a complete make over on Elkhorn Elementary School. Elkhorn also received a brand-new music room that is also a FEMA Storm Shelter.
We have been fiscally reasonable. We have been able to maintain more than enough in reserves so that we have been able to give staff pay increases to their base as well as continue to give step increase to staff. The district is no different than any business when it comes to budgeting for healthcare. We have been able to increase the amount that the district pays for employee’s healthcare as premiums increase thus resulting in more money for our staff.
We have also achieved on much academia. Our attendance is up at the secondary schools, our office referral for discipline is way lower than ever before and we continue to see higher scores on all grade levels.
Now let’s look at what goals I still would like to see the district. Our promise for the committee and the taxpayers what once we where able to replace the old Westview with a new building that we would focus our attention on replacing Lewis Elementary. Our promise and our focus are set on fulling that promise as soon as possible. Part of that is being able to refinance old bonds at lower rates as well as pay some off early to free up bonding capacity. We are working towards doing that now. Not only will it save the district interest it will allow us to move forward faster. With that we will continue to look making sure our current buildings are maintained and provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all students and staff.
We will continue to look at ways to keep our staff pay comparative to larger districts so that we are able to maintain a quality and seasoned staff of teachers. We have a great team of teachers currently writing complete lesson plans for every subject and every grade level.
The board of education, teachers, building admin, central office admin’s number one goal is to provide the students of this district with the very best education, in the safest, healthiest environment that is possible. That is what we are working towards. There is no reason whatsoever that Excelsior Springs School District #40 can not be as good or even better than any district around.
We have achieved a lot, yet we have a lot left to achieve and we owe it to our youth and to our community. This is my home and I want to see it grow and be a place that people want to move to because they know their kids will be provide a first-class education and we can do that. We where there at one time we can achieve that again.
To achieve these goals I will need your help and would greatly appreciate your vote and your support on April 5th for Excelsior Springs School District #40 Board of Education.
Thank you for your time
“Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger”
Charles (Tray) Harkins

Candidates for Excelsior Springs City Council are Sharon Donat, Brent McElwee, and Mark Spohn. McElwee is the current incumbent and is being challenged by Donat and Spohn.

Sharon Donat
Candidate for Excelsior Springs City Council

I have lived in this community since 2005. I raised my children here and truly believe this is a
great place to live and work. It’s my time to give back and serve this community. Too many
people would rather complain than step up to make the changes they want. I believe I would
add a fresh perspective to the council.
My background in sales and restaurant management has given me skills I believe make me a
strong candidate for city council. I have the ability to listen to all points of view, to work with a
wide variety of people, reach outside my comfort zone, make decisions, and remain open

What do the citizens of Excelsior Springs want that would really make a difference?
From what I have heard around town these are things I would like to address:

taking care of our first responders so they stay in our town
• all inclusive playgrounds so children of all abilities have a safe place to play
• supporting local businesses
• attracting new developments that increase our community value
• exercising fiscal responsibility.

Brent McElwee
Candidate for Excelsior Springs City Council

I am James “Brent” McElwee and I was born and raised in Excelsior Springs and graduated from Excelsior Springs High School in 1977. 

In 1978, I became a licensed real estate agent. In 1982, I started McElwee Construction, which in 1986 became Aartech Homes Inc. Aartech Homes Inc specialized in residential house construction and at one point we employed over 40 people. Through the years, we built well over 1,000 homes. I started Stonecrest Development in 1990 in order to expand into residential development. We developed subdivisions in Excelsior Springs, Kearney and Smithville. In 2008, I expanded into commercial property in downtown Excelsior Springs, purchasing and repurposing various buildings. This was my way of giving back to the community. 

In 2012, I expanded into commercial property in downtown Kansas City, MO with my first property at 1808 Broadway. In 2015, I started a new company called Rochester Holdings, LLC with a business partner to redevelop a building in downtown KCMO that was part of Rochester Brewing Company in 1905. In 2017, I started another new company called ECO Real Estate Investments, LLC with a business partner to buy and repurpose industrial property. 

In 2018, I had the opportunity to buy the Buckley Building at 101 South Street in Excelsior Springs across from the police station. That building was originally a boarding house for tourists and it became my first Historical Preservation project. Over the years, it was converted into apartments. Now it is an AirBNB, welcoming tourists once again. 

My 40 plus year career has given me the experience to make sound decisions based on the facts of the situation. Balancing risk with rewards, filtering out the noise, and looking at the short and long-term potential outcome of that decision before making a final decision. 

I joined the Excelsior Springs City Council in 2011 when I was appointed to the board to complete the term of a councilman who had stepped down. Since then, I have been elected to 3 more terms. I believe in giving back to one’s community and service on the council has been another way for me to do that. I have also served on the Planning and Zoning board, Road and Bridge board, and Public Safety Sale Tax board. I credit my parents Earl and Margret McElwee for all their own examples of giving back, that inspired all their kids to give back to the community. 

Excelsior Springs continues to make progress on many fronts in addition to the great job the employees do every day to keep this city running. The downtown area has come a long way in being revitalized with new businesses starting. Excelsior Springs has also seen a new community center built and now looking to expand, a brand new dog park as well as a new clubhouse at the golf course, giving the city the opportunity to grow and compete for business. The city is also seeing progress made with the conversion of the old Rainbow Swim Club into a new public splash park, brand new elementary schools are being built, public parks have been expanded, Miller Custom Cabinets has expanded into a new state of the art facility and our Excelsior Springs Hospital continues to expand the services they offer and has made substantial renovations. These are just some of the examples of progress being made.

The city has addressed the worst of the critical issues of the old sewer and water infrastructure that was failing and has worked to set up funding for ongoing maintenance so as to reduce future big expenditures. 

I truly believe in the future of Excelsior Springs and would like to continue contributing to that future. There are still some decisions to be made in the city that I want to be a part of.

Mark Spohn
Candidate for Excelsior Springs City Council

Dear Citizens of Excelsior Springs,

My name is Mark Spohn. I am announcing my candidacy for Excelsior Springs City Council. I have lived in Excelsior Springs for 48 years and graduated high school as a proud Tiger in 1976. I love this city and am proud to be a citizen of this great community.

I’m running for City Council because I would love to be your voice at the table where decisions are made that effect our lives on a daily basis. While I have never served in the capacity of public office, I have served many years in the context of pastoral ministry at Pisgah Baptist Church. Serving a faith community has many parallels to serving a community. In each of them is a diversity of ideas and opinions which must be weighed when making decisions. Careful thought and prayer should be given to any single matter which affects the many.

I am passionate about Excelsior Springs. I think I have proven that by my past actions. Several years ago my wife and I sold our comfortable west side home and purchased a building slated for demolition in the downtown area. After 2 1/2 years of much hard work and personal sacrifice, we opened and moved into the Payne Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast, located in the Historic Hall of Waters District. We delighted in naming our B&B in honor of the home’s past owner, the beloved Bill Payne, who served as Excelsior’s chief of police from 1927-1956. Our bed and breakfast has become a place of comfort and renewal for hundreds of guests over the past six years.

I also recently completed eight years of service as a board member of the Downtown Excelsior Partnership. I still serve in that organization as chair of the Design Committee. DEP has been largely responsible for the revitalization of the downtown area and has fostered a healthy economic turn around due to tourism that has been nurtured. Thousands of tourist from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as our own state, come to Excelsior Springs every year and pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into our community due to the marketing of DEP and the draw of local businesses which have been nurtured by this organizations efforts. This benefits every one of us who live here by feeding the cash registers of local businesses and providing tax based revenue for the operation of our city.

I also have served for many years as a member of the Public Safety Sales Tax Commission, which is responsible for stewarding the tax dollars approved by the citizens of this community to provide adequate equipment and the necessary apparatus for our police and fire departments.

I am also currently serving as a member of the Excelsior Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. Our local Chamber also works hard to foster tourism and to solicit and support local businesses city wide.

While I celebrate the history of this great little town, I believe our best days are ahead of us. I believe that tourism will continue to be an important part of the economic engine that benefits all of our citizens. I recognize that tourism alone will not sustain the growth needed to be a vibrant and healthy community. I believe we also need to focus on developing and attracting industry that provides good paying jobs, which in turn will spur growth in every sector, including housing and additional retail businesses.

If elected, I will be your voice to promote and nurture these ideals which will provide blessing and benefit for all. I will not promise you that my election will solve every problem that presently exists or may, at some time in the future, arise. What I will promise is that I will be at the table for every planning session and council meeting, unless providentially hindered or ill. I will also commit to giving an up or down vote on every issue that comes to the table. I believe that a vote of abstention should only be used in the presence of a personal conflict of interest.

I would love to have your vote for City Council.

Serving our community together,
Mark Spohn

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