Standing atop the pitching mound on Alex Gordon Family Field – an indoor practice space at the heart of the innovative Kansas City Urban Youth Academy baseball facility – Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson talked about the importance of teamwork on Thursday, August 2.
“At the end of the day, we’re all one state, so we’re stronger when we work together, and our two cities have more in common than they have in contrast,” James said. “I am fortunate and Lyda is fortunate to have a governor who cares about what’s going on in our cities, and spends the time here to learn, not just through an email or newspaper article, but being here firsthand to see with his own eyes, touch with his own hands.”
Parson agreed, relaying his belief that there are more good days to come if the spirit of collaboration on display August 2 extends into the future.
“There will be differences in some of our opinions as we move forward, with me and both of these mayors, but I guarantee you there will be many more times that we will agree with one another, trying to make this state better,” Parson said.
The group were in the middle of a daylong tour of Kansas City, which was guided by James and featured stops at KCPD East Patrol, Arthur Bryant’s, the KC Streetcar, City Hall, and the Buck O’Neil Bridge in addition to the 18th and Vine District.
At an 11 a.m. press conference, Parson answered questions from reporters about a variety of pertinent Kansas City issues, including local control of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, the differences between Parson and Mayor James about a City’s right to enact municipal gun control laws, and his thoughts about Proposition A, the right to work legislation that was considered by Missouri voters during the August 7 election.
Asked about local control of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, Parson expressed a willingness to consider any legislation that comes across his desk. That said, he was careful not to wade to far into the debate without local law enforcement leaders at the table.
“I think right now it would be premature for me to make a voice either way, without the cities and the police departments all being at the table and being involved in that decision,” Parson said.
On gun control, Parson acknowledged that he and James think differently. But he also suggested that the day-to-day realities of life in big cities is strikingly different than that of rural Missouri, leaving the door open for urban solutions to gun violence in both Kansas City and St. Louis.
“We’ve always felt like there’s been somewhat of a gap, most of us who have been around awhile, but there shouldn’t be a gap between rural and urban when it comes to crime,” Parson said. “These crime rates and these homicides, they effect everybody in Missouri.”
At one point, James went out of his way to praise the open line of communication with the Governor’s office. James also suggested that he’s witnessed Parson exhibit well-reasoned tendencies during his time in the Missouri Legislature. Parson served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2005 until 2011 and in the Senate from 2011 until 2017.
“I saw him change his position when he got new information, and I respect that,” James said. “I’m not going to try to put him on the spot, and I’ll tell you exactly why; because I want to be able to have a conversation with him down the road about what’s going on without the back filter of being hemmed in and pinned in. This is a touchy issue, and we’re going to try to handle it delicately.”
Parson also relayed his support for Proposition A, the Right to Work legislation on the August 7 ballot. Despite the endorsement, Parson suggested that Right to Work will likely remain a hot-button issue for years to come in the State of Missouri.
“I think it’s good for the State of Missouri; I understand the opposition to that. Those issues have been talked about a lot,” Parson said. “For right now, I think we’re going to find that out next week at the ballot box.”