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Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach says he won't run for re-election

Two council members running to succeed him
Mayor Carl Gerlach.png
Overland Park Councilman Curt Skoog
Overland Park Councilman Dr. Faris Farassati
Posted at 11:23 AM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 19:25:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Longtime Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach said Tuesday that he will not run for re-election again in 2021.

In a news release announcing his decision, Gerlach said he felt he has accomplished many of his priorities in office, citing the addition of 25,000 new jobs over the past 16 years, support for the city's 1/8-cent sales tax for street improvements, and a high "quality of life" during the 2008 financial crisis and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We can differ on policy, even disagree on funding and programs, but I know we all want a growing, prosperous and high caliber community," Gerlach said in the release. "So, I have strived for understanding, civility, respect, knowledge and a common purpose — to succeed and make Overland Park the city of choice for people and businesses to live and invest in."

Last year in its annual survey, the website Niche listed Overland Park as the sixth best city to live in the country.

"Mayor Gerlach has had a long, distinguished career in service of Overland Park," Overland Park City Councilman Paul Lyons said. "He's done a great job as our mayor. Our city has grown tremendously as a result of his leadership."

On Tuesday, Councilman Curt Skoog, after consulting with Gerlach, told the 41 Action News I-Team that he will file to run for mayor in the next few days.

"Carl's leadership has been key to what Overland Park has become," said Skoog, who represents the city's second ward. "Once he made the decision that he wasn't going to run, it was important to me to have insight from him."

Skoog's peers recently chose him to serve as council president.

In December 2019, Dr. Faris Farassati, who represents the city’s fifth ward on the Overland Park City Council, announced his intention to run for mayor in 2021.

Skoog and Farassati have clashed on issues, such as tax incentives for private businesses to either expand or locate in Overland Park.

Skoog has generally supported those incentives while Farassati has opposed them.

Additionally, the two men have different takes on the city's response to the 2018 fatal shooting of John Albers.

Recently, 41 Action News filed suit against the city of Overland Park to get the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team (OISIT) report on the incident.

The Kansas City Star also is suing the city to get the separation agreement between the Overland Park Police Department and Officer Clayton Jenison, who fatally shot Albers.

As the I-Team first reported in June, the city paid Jenison $70,000 to resign.

Additionally, the FBI has an ongoing civil rights investigation into the deadly shooting.

"Enhanced transparency and accountability would be the solution and the treatment for issues like this," Farassati said.

Skoog noted the city released a binder of documents in the Albers' case this past August.

"I think the idea that Overland Park has not been transparent is incomplete," Skoog said.

He also said the city doesn't plan to release the documents their attorneys claim are privileged, including the OISIT report, unless ordered to do so by the court.

Gerlach, 66, was elected as mayor in 2005 and ran unopposed in the following two elections before facing his first challenger, Charlotte O'Hara, in 2017. Gerlach handily won re-election with 63% of the vote.

Before his election as mayor, Gerlach served for 10 years on the Overland Park City Council.

Currently, Gerlach also serves on the boards of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, Mid-America Technology Inc. and the Johnson County Community College Foundation.

It's unclear if candidates other than Farassati and Skoog will file to run for mayor. The filing deadline is in June.