April 6, 2011
Jubilation and relief were the primary emotions Tuesday night in The Chamber’s Board Room as we celebrated the overwhelming vote in favor of keeping Kansas City, Missouri’s biggest source of revenue – the one percent earnings tax.
The final unofficial tally was 78 percent in favor of retention; 22 percent against. It was a vote that truly united the city, winning in all corners of the community.
It was a hard-fought campaign, masterfully coordinated by Pat Gray and his team. A total of 100 business, civic, labor, neighborhood, and religious organizations from throughout the city came together to endorse and support the effort.
And KCMO voters got the message. They understood the ramifications of losing $200 million a year from the part of the city budget that pays for police and fire protection and for the basic services our residents require.
They understood this election was of critical importance to the health and future of their city. Mayor-Elect Sly James may not have taken office yet, but he has already shown great leadership. His own campaign for mayor over, he jumped right into the effort to “Keep KC Alive,” campaigning tirelessly for retention of the tax. He is bringing an energy and a view of Kansas City’s future that is inspiring – a sentiment, I suggest, that is shared by Kansas City voters.
Appreciation and thanks to the hard-working cochairs of this campaign: Don Hall, Jr., head of Hallmark Cards; civic activists Anita Gorman and Dianne Cleaver; former deputy chief Vince Ortega; and Norine Accurso, Mayor Pro Tem of the Kansas City Silver Hair City Council. A special nod, as well, to The Chamber’s Senior Vice-President for Government Relations, Kristi Wyatt, who worked tirelessly as well.
I’m proud that your Chamber played a key role in this election. As soon as Proposition A – the statewide measure requiring this vote – passed last November, we mobilized a core group that included the Civic Council, AFL-CIO, firefighters, and the Heavy Constructors. We knew after the November vote that a lot of education was going to be required.
That small group quickly expanded to a diverse and determined city-wide effort to keep this important source of revenue. All that hard work has paid off.
We all won Tuesday night. Thank you, Kansas City.