Nine Mayoral candidates lined the stage at East High School Wednesday night, December 5th, to address student-crafted questions regarding their plans if elected Mayor of Kansas City in 2019.
The nine candidates in attendance were Councilman Scott Wagner, Councilman Scott Taylor, Councilman Jermaine Reed, Councilman Quinton Lucas, Councilwoman Jolie Justus, Councilwoman Alissia Canady, civic leader and business owner Steve Miller, businesswoman and community advocate Rita Berry, and Crossroads businessman Phil Glynn.
The questions addressed topics such as economic development, homelessness, and police brutality. Although these students won’t be old enough to vote in this election, the questions posed to the candidates highlighted the issues that are important to young people.
“This is now the sixth debate, I think, I’ve been involved in, and these are some of the best and the hardest questions we’ve had,” said candidate Steve Miller.
The first question posed to the candidates was, if elected Mayor, how they plan to spend time and money East of Troost, which many see as a dividing line in the community.
Businessman Phil Glynn said focusing on building affordable housing and bringing stable jobs to the community would be a solution to this issue.
“We build affordable housing. We create jobs by investing in the community. What we see is that if you want economic development to be successful, it has to start with the community. This process is about identifying the problem in the neighborhood, and maybe it’s the lack of affordable housing, maybe the problem is the lack of quality jobs. Well, if we do those two things, then we will be investing in activities that benefit all of Kansas City,” said Glynn.
Councilwoman Alissia Canady, representing Kansas City’s 5th District, said becoming an advocate for low-income families and being their voice would be her solution as Mayor.
“I’ve seen a disinvestment in the community where working class families have left and a number of families who have low education, limited means, limited opportunities, are left to fend for themselves. As a councilwoman, I work diligently to allocate resources, being their voice in the process, and being their advocate,” said Canady.
Councilman Scott Wagner, who represents the 1st District At-Large, serves as Mayor Pro Tem, and is chairman of the City Council Finance and Governance Committee, spoke directly to the students who posed this question, saying they should have opportunities as entrepreneurs when they graduate.
“The reality is that there are businesses here that need an opportunity to grow. There needs to be opportunity for you to create a business, to be able to have that business funded, and to be able to have that business grow, and that is what is going to change this community,” said Wagner.
The students also asked what could be done to tackle teen homelessness, an issue that seemed to be close to home for many of the students. When asked if they knew any of their peers who struggle with homelessness, over a dozen students raised their hands.
Incumbent Mayor Sly James, in office since 2011, is term-limited and cannot run for another term.
The 2019 Kansas City mayoral election will take place on June 18, 2019. All declared candidates will run in a nonpartisan primary on April 2, 2019. The top two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election.