Mayor recommends new city manager, council to vote today

The mayor recommended Brian Platt, business administrator of Jersey City, for the city manager position.

On Wednesday, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas made a formal recommendation to the City Council for the city’s 16th city manager.

Lucas recommended Brian Platt, business administrator for the City of Jersey City, New Jersey.

According to Lucas, following the final interviews, he met with each council member separately to discuss their preference for city manager and saw that a supermajority of council members named Platt as either their clear first choice, or tied for first, for city manager.

The second most popular choice had three votes from council members as either their clear first choice or tied for first choice, according to Lucas.

“I am inclined to agree with a supermajority of the Council—not only because of the agreement among this supermajority of the Council—but because of this individual’s strong record on budget management, incentives, and affordable housing,” Lucas wrote in a letter to the City Council. “Based upon sterling recommendations provided by his own colleagues and citizens, the review of our colleagues and community interview viewers and participants, and his strong work on budget challenges over recent years and reorganization of Jersey City departments, I will recommend, based upon my authority under Section 218(b) of the Kansas City Charter, Brian Platt to serve as Kansas City’s sixteenth permanent city manager.”

Platt holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and has extensive management experience. He and his wife, Margo, have a two-year-old daughter and have significant family ties to Kansas City, Lucas shared in the letter.

“Brian has made a tremendous impact on Jersey City,” City Council President and Jersey City pastor Joyce Watterman said. “He’s been an extraordinary partner with the City Council as we have worked together and oversaw a myriad of efforts and initiatives come to fruition over the past several years.”

Platt’s father-in-law, Marty Aaron, is a graduate of Center High School. Aaron’s mother is a graduate of Paseo High School. Several members of his family remain in Kansas City and have served the community as public school teachers and local business owners for decades, Lucas shared.

“Mr. Platt has great experience leading one of America’s most diverse cities,” Lucas wrote. “As city manager of Jersey City, New Jersey, Mr. Platt has built a more fiscally prudent and stable government operation. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Mr. Platt this year led Jersey City in reducing its City budget mid-year by $70 million, making creative, targeted reductions without imposing mass furloughs, layoffs, or disrupting the delivery of vital City services.”

The City Council will vote at today’s meeting on a Mayor Lucas ordinance to codify this recommendation. If approved, Platt would tentatively begin his role of city manager on January 4, 2021.

“All a person has to do to validate this decision is look at [Platt’s] track record here in Jersey City, helping us lead one of the best city renaissance stories in the country,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

The 13-month long process to find a new city manager began last fall.

“Based on Council direction, the City’s Procurement Office accepted bids from numerous search firms and recommended a national search firm, Baker Tilly, to assist us in this process. Baker Tilly put out a call for applications and sought talented government leaders from across the country.

Kansas City received more than 70 initial applications that met initial criteria. Each of those names was provided to all councilmembers for their review. Council narrowed the list to 19 candidates for the semi-final list. Baker Tilly then conducted thorough screenings on the remaining candidates.

“After the firm’s screenings, the full Council again joined in several more meetings to identify our finalists,” Lucas wrote. “To ensure that the pool of applicants was adequate, each council member was allotted additional time to supplement the list of candidates. After several weeks of deliberation and meetings with councilmembers, we again came together to affirm our final four candidates, with each councilmember and the mayor having equal votes.”

Those finalists were Milton Dohoney, Jr., Janice Allen Jackson, Kevin Jackson, and Brian Platt. They were invited to Kansas City for several hours of meetings with council members, community organizations, and the public. Lucas touted the transparency of the process, despite COVID-19.

Each finalist began with at least a 90-minute long public meeting with the full City Council. Each then participated in an hour-long lunch meeting gaining feedback from stakeholder organizations throughout the community, of which several dozen organizations were represented, and dozens more were invited. Finalists participated in a public town hall, during which community members were invited to ask direct questions of each finalist.

“Following these twelve meetings over a two-week period, the City solicited feedback from the community and received hundreds of responses from Kansas Citians,” Lucas wrote. “The responses we received from the community are reflective of the recommendation I will make today.”

Lucas thanked Acting City Manager Earnest Rouse for his dedicated service to Kansas City.

“Particularly through this unprecedented time: he has been a steady hand as the city has navigated a global pandemic, an unexpected and steep budget hole, and difficult but necessary discussions on policing in America,” Lucas wrote.

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