Election Preview: KC mayoral race

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As of October 2, 2018, Kansas City mayoral candidates are (top row, from left): Quinton Lucas, Scott Wagner, Rita Berry, Phil Glynn. (Bottom row, from left) Jermaine Reed, Alissia Canady, Scott Taylor, Steve Miller.

Election season is upon us, and The Hilltop Monitor is going to have a series of articles previewing local elections for this year and next year. An important election coming in mid-2019 is the Kansas City mayoral election. It is important to note that this election is non-partisan and will mark the end of current mayor Sly James’ final term.

Currently, the number of candidates is down to eight after Jason Kander dropped out, citing his battle with PTSD and depression as the reason for his exit. Here is a quick synopsis on each candidates’ background, ideas and goals, as well as the potential impact this election will have on Kansas City.

Rita Berry, or Rita Bee, is a Kansas City businesswoman. Formerly the general manager at gospel radio station KGGN 890 AM, she now volunteers at her church. Berry, a non-politician, says she will put people first. Her main focus will be lowering the crime rate, which she hopes to accomplish by strengthening the relationship between communities and the police.

Jermaine Reed is serving his second term on the city council, where he represents the third district. As chairman of the transportation and infrastructure committee, he oversaw the grand opening of the streetcar and looks to continue to improve transportation in the city. Reed has fought to remove economic barriers for citizens and establish a living wage – something he would continue to fight for as mayor. He also wants to create more jobs – one way he plans to do this is by having Kansas City natives work on the construction of a new terminal at Kansas City International airport.

Phil Glynn owns a small business in the Crossroads Art District and was previously a member of the Tax Increment Financing commission in Kansas City. Glynn’s plan for Kansas City centers around investing in the city’s greatest resources: people, neighborhoods and the river. In regards to people, his focus will be on improving the quality of and access to education, funding a program to teach job skills to citizens and implementing common sense gun control laws. For our neighborhoods, he wants to produce more affordable housing and expand the reach of public transportation. Glynn believes that the Missouri River is currently being under-utilized and that it holds economic and educational potential.

Steve Miller is a lawyer who spent 35 years in construction law and co-founded a law firm that operates in downtown Kansas City. Miller pledges to keep the public’s trust and finish the projects that were started under Sly James, like KCI and the streetcar. Miller’s focus will mainly be on lowering the crime rate which he calls a “national embarrassment,” as well as improving education. Miller also wants to fairly allocate resources to improve all regions and neighborhoods of Kansas City.

Before being elected to the city council in 2015 to represent the fifth district, Alissia Canady served as assistant prosecuting attorney for Jackson County. Public safety is her number one issue. As mayor, Canady would focus on addressing gun violence, mental health and health equity concerns. For the economy, she vows to put small businesses before developers and create an entrepreneur-friendly city. Canady also wants to attract high-quality jobs and, like other candidates, wants construction of the airport to benefit Kansas City workers and companies.

Scott Taylor has served as a city councilman for the sixth district since 2011 and was appointed as the chairman of the planning and zoning committee by Mayor Sly James in 2015. Taylor also served as vice president to the Center School District Board. First and foremost, Taylor vows to be transparent to the citizens of Kansas City. Taylor’s main focuses will be on improving and maintaining neighborhoods, reducing crime, improving education and supporting small businesses.

Scott Wagner represents the first district and currently serves as mayor pro tem. That means he would assume mayoral duties in the event of a mayor’s absence due to death, physical incapacity, impeachment or resignation. As mayor, Wagner would continue to fight for the issues he has fought for while on the city council. He will look to improve the safety and appearance of the city and will continue his work on economic initiatives that will bring new jobs into Kansas City. Wagner received his bachelor of science in history, business and economics from William Jewell College.

Quinton Lucas is an attorney and, currently, the youngest city councilman, where he represents the third district. Lucas’ main goal, if elected mayor, would be to “make sure everyone in KC has the opportunity to succeed, no matter their zip code.” One of the policies he has fought for during his time on the city council, and will continue to fight for, is increasing the availability and quality of affordable housing. For public safety, Lucas wants more policing and better response times.

One thing that all of these candidates generally agree upon is that this is one of the most significant elections in the city’s history. They all understand the importance of continuing the momentum started by Sly James. This will determine whether Kansas City will continue to grow and improve, or whether growth will falter, setting us back. It is important to have a strong leader devoted to the people of Kansas City in order for this city to continue its growth.

Sly James – elected mayor in 2011 – created a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. Some of James’ achievements include overseeing work on the streetcar, turning Kansas City into a hub for innovation with initiatives like KC Stat, and improving the city’s national profile. His ‘4 E Agenda,’ the E’s standing for education, efficiency, employment and enforcement, has been the driving force behind most of his policies and accomplishments.

James is in his final term, which will end in 2019, but his legacy is one that will be talked about, seen and remembered for many years to come.

The election will take place Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Remember, whether it is a presidential election, a mayoral election or even a city council election, it is always important for people to go out and vote.

Photo courtesy of KCUR.

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