Feb. 22, 2019 – Editor’s note: This article continues a series to profile each candidate running for Excelsior Springs City Council and the Excelsior Springs Board of Education. Excelsior Springs residents Thomas Shue and Carl A. Harper filed to oppose incumbent Brent McElwee in his quest to retain his currently held seat of the City Council. Challenger Kalyn Goode will oppose incumbents Darren McKown and Tray Harkins for the school board. The election will be held April 2.

After working for over 40 years in public safety, one candidate for the Excelsior Springs City Council hopes to use the skills he learned to help lead Excelsior into the future.

Harper wants to provide a fresh set of eyes on city council

Carl Harper

Carl Harper said he worked in various positions in law enforcement for years. An Air Force veteran, he worked for the Ray County Sheriff Department for 13 years, served as the Wood Height’s Chief of Police two times and worked as Weston’s Chief of Police. He said working in law enforcement helped him to improve skills others may not realize. Those skills, Harper said, including social work, listening and making split-second decisions, will help him serve the residents of Excelsior Springs if they elect him to the city council.

“I think those have given me a lot of training over 40 years that I can listen to people’s complaints and concerns and come up with a solution,” he said.

He said positions he held in the past prepared him to serve the community. While in Weston, he said he worked with a budget so tight, they counted used postage stamps. He said he knows how to squeeze a penny.

“I’ve had to work with many budgets in places that were really tight,” he said. “Everywhere that I’ve have had any control over the budget, we’ve always come out ahead at the end of the year.”

Watching current events including the situation surrounding the Excelsior Springs Memorial Airport and listening to stories from friends closely related to the city spurred his decision to run, he said.

He said he believes the council needs a fresh set of eyes and ears to help make more positive change for the community. It seems, Harper said, those living on a fixed income in the community don’t have a voice on the council. He said he would like to provide that voice.

Serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission for five years in the past helped him to realize the income level of the community, he said, through surveys conducted during his time on the commission.

City officials plan large projects many in the community can’t enjoy, he said. For example, the community center. Harper said because residents already pay for the center with their taxes, it shouldn’t cost $8 per day for each one of them to enjoy its services. He said he would like these projects to be all-inclusive and allow each resident to enjoy them.

While in planning and zoning, he said he helped work to simplify zoning ordinances to help Excelsior grow. He said he did everything he could during that time to help simplify processes so people would start moving to the community. He said he especially wanted to attract new business. During that time, Harper said the board worked together to clean up Excelsior to draw new residents.

“We towed 2,000 cars and tore down 33 buildings. Just trying to make the city better, get more people to build here,” he said.

Only being one voice on the council doesn’t deter him, he said. If city officials heard various presentations on the same matter, he said they may make another decision. As far as the airport situation, he said he sees other solutions. He said he believes a happy medium can be reached.

Harper said he simply wants the chance to make a positive difference for the Excelsior community as he did when he served with planning and zoning.

“I felt like I’d actually done something,” he said. “It was a good feeling. I’d like to get that back.”

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