Mayoral hopeful Jason Kander enticed hundreds of supporters to brave inclement weather and road closures to attend his official campaign kickoff on Saturday, July 14 at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Twenty minutes after the event’s listed start time, Kander had filled the museum near capacity. If there was any doubt as to whether Kander’s swell of online support would translate into the real world, his July 14 kickoff left little doubt. Signs and t-shirts were available at the door, and the enthusiastic crowd cheered frequently during the mayoral candidate’s prepared remarks.
The event was also a reminder of Kander’s growing list of endorsements, as he was introduced by 6th District Councilman Kevin McManus, 2nd District Councilwoman Teresa Loar, Missouri State House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, and former Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Kay Barnes.
In his speech, Kander spent considerable time focusing on job creation in Kansas City, much to the appreciation of his energetic supporters.
“I am excited about sitting in any room with any possible employer, no matter where they are, and preaching the gospel of my hometown,” Kander said. “I will do that every day of the week.”
Kander acknowledged, however, that job growth is about more than enticing new businesses to Kansas City. He suggested that the city already has “Fortune 500 ideas” that need to be cultivated from within, adding that entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be synonymous with technology.
“It’s also got to be recognizing that if you’ve got a small business that employs five people, you’ve got to be pretty dang entrepreneurial every single day to make it work. You’re an entrepreneur too,” Kander said. “And if you want to start a business and employ a couple of people in this part of town or any other, we’ve got to have your back too.”
After delivering his first stump speech as a candidate for Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Kander stuck around to answer additional questions from the media. When asked about the City Council’s ongoing debate about gift thresholds and campaign donations, Kander told the Northeast News that he won’t accept any gifts from lobbyists if he is elected as Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.
“I think my record is pretty clear on this; it’s been an issue that I’ve worked on for a very long time. Personally, when I was a State Representative or when I was Secretary of State, I’ve never accepted personal gifts from lobbyists,” Kander said. “That’s the practice I’ll continue when I’m Mayor, no matter what the law says.”
As for campaign finance rules, Kander suggested that he’s in favor of donation limits that favor individuals first and foremost.
“I have been a proponent of campaign contribution limits and campaign finance laws that make sense and empower more people,” Kander said. “I’ve led that effort in the State, and I’ll continue to do that kind of work.”
When asked about incentives for development projects downtown, such as those that have recently been approved for The Cordish Companies related to the Three Light luxury housing development, Kander declined to re-litigate the past decisions of the KCMO City Council. But he did offer a glimpse of how he might handle development incentives moving forward, suggesting that he’ll look to ensure that all developments offer a strong return to the City. He added that the City needs to be purposeful about spreading development throughout the city, especially on the east side.
”And also, as we continue to develop downtown, we’ve got to make sure that each time we do, we also look to the east side of the city and make sure that this is something that’s not just concentrated in a single part of the City,” Kander said.
While Kander made the statement, he was standing on the mock baseball field that makes up the vast majority of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, in what is essentially the heart of the 18th and Vine District. Why, the Northeast News asked, was it important for Kander to bring the energy of his campaign to the historic entertainment district to launch his mayoral campaign?
“18th and Vine is an important engine for economic development on the east side of this city, and because I meet people all the time who tell me, ‘Yeah, I’ve heard the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is great; one of these days I’m going to go there,’” Kander said. “So I just figured, let’s get a ton of people in here and let them see it, and then I’m going to get in front of a crowd and publicly ask them to not make this the last time that they’re here.”
Kander is up against five KCMO Council members in the 2019 Mayoral race, including 6th District Councilman Scott Taylor, 5th District Councilwoman Alissia Canady, 3rd District Councilman Jermaine Reed and Quinton Lucas, and 1st District Councilman Scott Wagner. Candidates from outside of political office include business owner Phil Glynn, businesswoman Rita Berry, lawyer Steve Miller, and most recently, transit activist Clay Chastain.