By Tyler Schneider
Grandview voters will go to the polls to vote on candidates for Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 3. Only Ward 3 is a contested race. Debbie Bibbs (Ward 1) and Joe Runions (Ward 2) are running unopposed.
Ron Brownlee became the first new occupant of this seat since 1980 after ousting James Crain on the July 2, 2020 ballot. A 1978 graduate of Grandview High School and current business owner Brownlee was elected in part because of his three decades of experience as a water operator for the Jackson County Public Water Supply District No. 1.
Back then, he vowed to focus his efforts on bringing new businesses to Grandview to fill vacant properties—a promise he believes he has since helped fulfill.
“I was instrumental in securing a third party analysis, at no cost to the city, to determine if a second grocery store in Grandview was needed. That analysis identified 74% of Grandview residents shopped for groceries outside of our city at least once a week, if not more. If re-elected,
I would continue to advocate for a second grocery store and any other development that would improve our community,” Brownlee said.
Another ongoing issue Brownlee sees as a focal point for city leadership is waste management.
“While Grandview’s Public Works staff spend a number of hours in their work week picking up trash throughout our City, it is not enough. There are times throughout the year that Grandview also enlists the help of volunteers to pick up trash but, still, it is not enough,” Brownlee said. “If re-elected, I would advocate for a program similar to Missouri’s Adopt-A-Highway Program. Adopter groups could include non-profit organizations, businesses, families, and individuals who volunteer to pick up trash and are recognized through signage bearing their name.”
Before and after taking his seat on the board, Brownlee has been an active supporter of area food pantries—an effort he maintains to this day.
“I have always advocated providing assistance to those in need. During my first term, I partnered with the Grandview Assistance Program’s Food Pantry and McKeever’s Price Chopper to provide holiday meals to local families. I currently partner with this grocery store to support three other local food pantries that include one of our local churches’ food pantries. I also partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to distribute financial assistance through the CARES Act to local businesses in need during the pandemic,” Brownlee said.
Thomas J. Rousey
A retired U.S. Marine Corp vet of 23 years, and a resident of Grandview for over three decades, Thomas J. Rousey Sr. has been volunteering throughout the city since he retired (for the second time) in 2012. He’s most recently served on the Parks & Recreation Commission and the GAP Board and has also spent five years on the city’s Planning Commission.
Rousey says he decided to challenge Brownlee for the spot about a year ago, after “a very thought out process” between him and his wife, Colette. He felt his opponent was not doing enough, and wanted to get more involved.
If he succeeds in the polls on April 5, Rousey would look to draw on his parks experience to continue to beautify the city as well as oversee major ongoing infrastructure projects as parts of his effort to repel some of the stigma that others in the area seem to have had for Grandview.
“The last thirty or so years, Grandview has been getting a negative view from people who do not even live here,” Rousey said. “When we first moved here in 1992, the people of the city would watch out for one another. You could be here at 9 pm and you could hear a pin drop. Now the time has changed, but the community is going back to what it was.”
Rousey notes the city’s poor voter turnout for municipal elections, which he says is key for Grandview’s continued resurgence. If he were elected to represent Ward 3, Rousey would focus much of his effort on engaging the community directly in order to make sure as many voices are heard at the polls as possible.
“I believe that people make up Grandview, because without the people, you don’t have a city. If I was an alderman, I would take one weekend a month and go around my ward and talk with the people. I can’t do that sitting behind a desk, or from home,” Rousey said.
All in all, Rousey hopes to bring a fresh set of ideas to a collection of city leaders who have already accomplished much for Grandview in recent years. His effort to become involved, in and of itself, is a sure sign that citizens are becoming more active in a municipality on the rise.