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Archive for October, 2018

OK, let’s review…

The mayor’s race turned upside down in late June when Jason Kander announced he was running for mayor.

The mayor’s race turned upside down Tuesday when Jason Kander announced he was getting out of the mayor’s race.

So, here we are, six months before the April 2019 primary election, and eight of the nine candidates who were in the race before Kander got in are still in.

The ninth candidate back then was Councilwoman Jolie Justus, who is now reassessing her options.

But not everything else — besides Justus being on the sidelines — is the same as it was shortly after Kander announced he was in.

With the Brett Kavanaugh debacle, the national political climate has changed a lot, and I don’t have any reason to believe it’s any different here. What many people seem to be tilting toward now (and we’ll find out more about the validity of this theory the first Tuesday in November) are female candidates (gay or straight), minority candidates and non-white, non-regally-bred-and-educated male candidates.

With that in mind, let’s revisit the existing field of eight candidates and also presume Jolie Justus gets back in the race.

Justus

Gay, smart and experienced (an unusual juxtaposition of adjectives, I realize), Justus has the right profile at the right time. I believe she will get back in the race. Even though she initially supported Burns & McDonnell’s airport power play, she bailed when she saw it was doomed, and she was out front, beside Mayor Sly James, in the hugely successful airport election. She’s got a winning personality and is very approachable. The first time I met her — years ago when she was running for her first office, state senate — I pulled out my checkbook after a brief conversation and wrote her a $50 check. Working against her is the fact that she has alienated a significant number of 4th District residents who say she has become unresponsive to them and to 4th District issues. Nevertheless, I think she could end up reclaiming her earlier role as the favorite in the race.

 

Councilman Scott Taylor

He’s a good man and has responded several times to projects and issues of concern to my neighborhood association, Romanelli West (along Ward Parkway south of Meyer Circle Fountain). Like Justus, he is friendly and likable, and, more important, he gets things done. He’s also raised a lot of money…But that’s because he’s in tight with developers and the law firms behind the developers. Being joined at the hip with developers is great for the campaign war chest but doesn’t sit well with neighborhood activists, and it will be interesting to see how the development-neighborhood factors balance out for him. One thing working against him in the current political environment is that he’s a white, middle-aged lawyer. In addition, he would never be described as someone who fires voters up, although he’s certainly got a strong constituency.

 

Councilman Quinton Lucas

Lucas is probably the most eloquent and charismatic candidate. Plus, he’s a good-looking black man and seems to be the kind of candidate who could make big strides in a short time. His personal story is appealing: He lives in the 18th and Vine area with his single mother and two older sisters; he teaches at the KU law school; and he volunteers in schools and non-profits. Fund raising is going to be a challenge for him, but he could gain a lot of traction if he were to get the support of a couple of mainline political organizations, like Freedom Inc. and the Citizens Association. He is a candidate to watch closely.

Councilman Scott Wagner

He’s a hard worker, doesn’t have a big head and knows City Hall from the inside out. The strongest card in his deck, however, may be that he’s the only candidate with roots in the Northland, although he now lives in northeast Kansas City. If Northland voters turn out for him, they could propel him into the June general election. He’s got these things working against him, though: He’s another middle-aged white guy; he’s not dynamic; he’s not very well known; he’s spent at least $11,000 of taxpayer money on travel the last two years; and, when The Star did a big story on affordable housing recently, he was the only mayoral candidate who did not respond to the reporter’s request for comment.

Phil Glynn

Along with his wife, Elizabeth, Glynn owns a business (Travois) that finances and supports housing and development projects in American Indian communities. He’s smart, good-looking and a good speaker. If he had previously served in just about any elective office, including school board, he might be considered a strong candidate. Part of his motivation for running, I believe, is that Sly James bounced him from the Tax Increment Financing Commission after he went against the mayor’s wishes on a proposed Crossroads redevelopment project. He simply seems to be reaching too far too soon. He should be running for City Council and serving at least one term there before raising his sights to the top city post.

Steve Miller

A Plaza-based lawyer, Miller is in the same boat as Glynn. In fact, they’re both from the same Catholic parish — Visitation — and tapping some of the same people for contributions. Miller is a former chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, but that’s not much of a name-identity springboard, to say the least. He’s another middle-aged white guy who had a dream about becoming mayor and let the dream supersede reality.

Councilman Jermaine Reed

Why Reed is in the race I do not know. He’s a low-profile council member who stood out recently only because he resisted sacking the failed executive director of the American Jazz Museum. (Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed.)

Councilwoman Alissia Canady

Why this first-term council member is in the race I do not know. The Star said in one story that she is running on an initiative to promote equitable economic development in all parts of Kansas city and on a push to increase funding for mental health programs. Those are noble ambitions, and — assuming she stays in the mayor’s race — I wish her the best as she continues to promote them as a private citizen.

Rita Berry

Like Glynn and Miller, Berry has never run for elective office. The Star says she helps out with her family’s funeral home business and has labeled her a community activist. She admits she is not interested in politics, so, like I said about Reed and Canady, her presence in the race is a mystery.

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