November 10, 2010
Four candidates for Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri participated in a two-hour joint appearance last night, sponsored by The Citizens Association, Inc. Based on what I observed during those two hours, the citizens of KCMO have excellent candidates from which to choose the city’s 54th Mayor.
The lively discussion was moderated by Micheal Mahoney with KMBC TV. The four participating were Deb Hermann, Jim Rowland, Sly James, and Mike Burke. Candidates were questioned about the earnings tax, pension reform, the city’s budget, the city manager, police department funding, crime, public transit, economic incentives, working with the business community, leadership, and many other topics.
The auditorium at the UMKC School of Dentistry was full of citizens and media. The crowd was anxious to pose questions to the participants. The city’s municipal primary is Feb. 22; the general election is March 22.
All candidates have a depth of experience in community and civic activism.
Jim Rowland, a former city councilman from the 4th District, now heads up the Jackson County Sports Authority. He’s also been a teacher and baseball coach. “Kansas City needs to be open for business. We need to re-define the tone to bring business to Kansas City.”
Deb Hermann, current at large City Councilperson from the 1st District in the Northland, said “We need to come together as a city,” Hermann said. “The Mayor sets the example.” Hermann chairs the Council’s Finance and Audit Committee.
Mike Burke, a lawyer, who served as a city councilman from the Northland in the 80’s said he’s worked with five Mayors. “I know how it works. I know how to bring people together.” Burke also chaired the Public Improvements Advisory Committee more recently.
Sly James, a lawyer and former Marine MP, said “city and neighborhoods need to work in harmony. I get it. I’ll get it done.” He also pledged to reconstruct the citizens committee on municipal revenue to help solve the budget woes currently facing KC.
It was a revealing glimpse into the knowledge base, philosophy, and temperament of these four candidates for Mayor. I was impressed by what I heard. Congratulations to the Citizens Association for putting together this substantial forum and to the four candidates as well for a job well done.