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OP city councilman accused of intimidating opponent

Incumbent sent challenger multiple texts
Posted at 8:15 PM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-06 21:15:48-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — When Gina Burke decided to run for city council in Overland Park's fourth district, she says three-term incumbent Terry Goodman quickly contacted her and tried to get her to drop out of the race.

Burke has posted a series of text messages Goodman sent her on her campaign website. 

Among those texts include one which reads, "Gina, I'm not afraid of losing. It's just such a hassel (Goodman's spelling) and unnecessary expense when you draw a last-minute opponent who is running "to be involved"."

Goodman, reached by phone, acknowledges he sent the texts.

"I was just trying to understand her motivation for running, I'd never heard of her and never saw her at a council meeting before she decided to run," he said.

After several requests, Burke agreed to meet with Goodman and says she was surprised to see Councilman Dan Stock also attending the meeting.

Burke claims Stock told her Goodman has a lot of clout with Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach and he could get her a seat on the city's planning commission. She claims Goodman nodded his head when Stock made that statement.

Goodman denies offering Burke a spot on the planning commission.

"I couldn't make that offer because the mayor makes those appointments and I wouldn't if I could," he said.

Goodman says he did offer to speak to the mayor to get Burke a spot on a citizens group like the Rotary Club or committee which he says he'd do for anyone and has done in the past.

One of his text messages to Burke reads in part, "Should you opt to take the road that Dan and I have recommended, I have already reached out to Mayor Gerlach on your behalf."

But Burke said on her Facebook page that Goodman has not only tried to get her to drop out of the race, he's also written to voters who have Burke yard signs.

"It's irresponsible for someone on the city council to behave this way," Burke said. "It's unprofessional and I think he's afraid of the competition."

"She's been lying about our conversation, I never offered her a job on the planning commission to get out of the race," Goodman said.

Burke is a first-time candidate for office and 3 year resident of Overland Park who says the city needs a fresh perspective.

Goodman has served 12 years on the city council and touts his experience while seeking a fourth term.