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.
An Excelsior Springs City Councilman seeking re-election hopes to continue building Excelsior Springs through what he describes as its
heart, the downtown.
Brent McElwee said he believes Excelsior Springs contains untapped potential that many do not recognize. He wants to help the
entire town grow, he said, by having a vibrant downtown that can be important for the city as a whole.
“I’m a firm believer that a town is judged by its downtown and if its all boarded up, then that creates such a negative vibe for people
coming through your town,” he said.
When he sees a boarded-up downtown while traveling, McElwee said he thinks it shows a regression of the town. Even
though there may be development in other areas of the town, a dilapidated downtown shows the town stopped progressing.
For Excelsior, he said the Westside benefits from Excelsior’s
vibrant downtown. He wants to see that continue.
As a self-professed cheerleader for the city, McElwee said he promotes Excelsior to people from other areas.
“Excelsior has such a natural beauty to it,” he said. “Compared
to the other towns around us, we sit down in a valley, we’ve got beautiful parks, we’ve got beautiful trees, we’ve got a beautiful setting
and most people don’t realize it.”
Serving on the city council for approximately seven years, he said he thinks the current council works well together for the betterment of
the city. Each one possesses their own strong qualities that work well together. Because he works in building and development, McElwee
said he worked with councils in Excelsior and surrounding towns. When the council does not work well together, problems ensue, he said.
“I’ve seen so many councils in years gone by where there’s discord,” McElwee said. “People have personal agenda, they have agendas
that conflict with others and it seems like nothing ever gets done.”
He said he thinks each one n the current council does not have a personal agenda. They each only want to help the city progress forward.
He adds to the council, he said, by providing the experience gained from working as a builder and developer his whole life. He worked
on numerous subdivisions in Excelsior, Kearney and Smithville. He also worked in projects in Kansas City.
“I believe I have a good common sense approach to things and try to work with people to make things happen,” he said.
Over his term, McElwee said he helped make the process easier for those wanting to begin business projects to town. In the past two
years, the downtown vacancy rate decreased from approximately 21 to eight percent.
McElwee said Excelsior Springs put the key players in place to create a team to help the city grow. He said he cites Molly McGovern, the
current city manager and Melinda Mehaffy with the Economic Development Department as examples of those helping the city grow.
He said he wants to see city officials continue to work with community groups to promote Excelsior to the next level. He wants to continue to work with those groups
including The Excelsior Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Excelsior Partnership to create an effort on all parts
to contribute to the whole, he said.
“My hope is that we can continue promoting Excelsior Spring in bringing people in here to take it to the next level,” he said.