If you’re having a tough time differentiating the candidates in the crowded race for Kansas City Mayor, our special section should help.  We asked them two powerful questions of great importance to our community.  

There is a crowded field of candidates to replace Kansas City Mayor Sly Williams, who has termed-out and can not seek reelection.

The crowded field includes six sitting Kansas City Council members; of those, three are African American.

So far, no clear candidate has established themselves as the front runner, although three of the top four fundraisers, as of Feb. 1 were: current council members Jolie Justus with $353,000, Scott Taylor with $273,000, and Quinton Lucas with $274,000.

Atty. Steve Miller had raised $306,000. The rest of the candidates lagged significantly behind in their fundraising efforts.

The fact that three African Americans are running, obviously begs the question: will the division of the Black vote keep a Black candidate from claiming one of the top two spots in the April 2 primary? Only with time and data analysis can that question be answered.

To help Community Voice readers with their decision-making process, The Community Voice asked the candidates to respond to two questions we feel gets to the heart of two major issues of concern for the city’s African-American community: crime and affordable housing.

Read on the next few pages how the candidates say they would address these issues if elected. We also included a brief bio, submitted by the candidates, to help you learn more about them,

All of the candidates but two responded to our request. Not responding were council members Alissia Canady and Scott Wagner, who we recognize are very busy during this time leading up to the primary.

KCMO Mayoral Candidates Respond to Community Issues – Slideshow Intro

QUINTON LUCAS

KCMO has a growing problem with violent crime. What steps would you take to reduce crime in the city?

When I’ve worked with the incarcerated, their involvement in crime was really often the result of lack of opportunity and a lack of hope that they can support themselves and their families well in the “formal sector” of the economy.

The late 20th century approach to crime-fighting was just to increase the costs of committing crime. I don’t think that was particularly effective. I think a 21st century approach is to recognize that one has to have incentives for participation in the formal sector of our economy. Such incentives would, in my opinion, include a living wage being earned for our labor, infrastructure and law that supports formal employment, such as accessible health care, daycare, etc., and communities that one can live in without fear.

More directly, I think the city can help further increase awards for the provision of confidential information and encourage further opportunities for our youth in the summer and after school–consistent activities that build community, build activities, skills and interests.

Kansas City is a great place to live, but rapidly increasing price of rent is putting the city out of reach for many.

What solutions would you implement to make more affordable housing available in Kansas City, especially inner-city KCMO?

Throughout my time on Council, I have led the discussion on housing policy to move our city forward, and count the legislation I’ve passed as one of my proudest achievements. Our current Affordable Housing Plan has four important points:

● No longer will $2,000 be considered “affordable housing” in Kansas City. I’ve cut that number by more than half.

● It’s time city government lend a hand towards progress. Permits from the city will be on a less-than-60 day timeline.

● Affordable housing near public transportation lines will receive additional incentives – so we can fight emissions and promote inclusive communities development.

● Establish the Housing Trust Fund. This will bring millions of dollars to see that initiatives are brought forward and completed.

ABOUT QUINTON

Quinton grew up in Kansas City’s urban core. Raised by a single mother and two older sisters, he learned from an early age the values of hard work, education, and perseverance. Despite experiencing homelessness as a child and moving frequently, Quinton worked to obtain academic scholarships to high school, college, and ultimately law school at Cornell University.

After graduating from Cornell, Quinton turned down job offers at large law firms in New York City and Washington, DC to return home to Kansas City where he practiced law and taught in area prisons. At age 28, Quinton earned a professorship at the University of Kansas, making him one of the youngest tenure-track law professors in the United States. An accomplished business lawyer and teacher, Quinton also volunteers extensively with schools and organizations. Because he never met his own father, Quinton regularly mentors young men and women in some of the neighborhoods to ensure young people recognize their potential.

Elected citywide in 2015, Quinton has been a leading voice on the City Council, working with local businesses to drive private investment and grow jobs, particularly in economically distressed areas, championing efforts to ensure quality housing opportunities exist in all Kansas City neighborhoods, leading a once-in-a-generation reform of the City’s tax incentive policy to return public dollars to schools and libraries in every part of Kansas City, and working each day to ensure the city delivers the basic services taxpayers expect.

PHIL GLYNN

KCMO has a growing problem with violent crime. What steps would you take to reduce crime in the city?

The violence in our communities and the failure of our economy are fundamentally linked. A lack of affordable housing is destabilizing families and a lack of quality jobs is making the problem worse. Each act of violence has a unique set of causes. But every evening news crime segment seems to have something in common in addition to the flashing lights and yellow tape: crumbling infrastructure and other signals of neighborhood neglect. I’m a business owner. I’ve built over 5,000 homes nationwide that are affordable to working families and senior citizens. I’ve created over 5,000 jobs by investing in local communities. I’ve managed a budget and set priorities. My strategy to reduce violence is to invest in our communities through housing, jobs and quality services. This will build the neighborhood stability that reduces and prevents crime.

Kansas City is a great place to live, but rapidly increasing price of rent is putting the city out of reach for many.

What solutions would you implement to make more affordable housing available in Kansas City, especially inner-city KCMO?

Forty-seven percent of Kansas Citians rent their homes. Forty-nine percent of those households are paying more than 30% of their income in rent. This means too many Kansas Citians are one shock away from losing their homes because of a cutback in hours, an illness, the sudden need to care for a loved one–This is why we see the possessions of evicted families piling up on curbs throughout the heart of our City. My strategy is twofold. First, we need to use public private partnerships to bring more housing to our market for which the rent payment is less than 1/3 of a family’s monthly income. Second, we need to invest in skills training and reliable transportation for our workers. We must help our citizens be more economically successful to truly stabilize our neighborhoods.

ABOUT PHIL

Phil was born and raised in the heart of Kansas City—the youngest of three children. His parents provided a middle-class upbringing in a tight-knit neighborhood based on strong community values.

They raised their children to believe that their talents were not simply their own. Their talents were gifts from God meant to be shared with those around them. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” Phil’s mom would often remind them.

This infused everything in Phil’s young life with a sense of joy and a sense of mission. Whether it was earning the rank of Eagle Scout, taking part in school plays or on the basketball court where his senior year he and his team mates fell just a few points short of winning a state championship.

After High School Phil earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Wake Forest University where he met the girlfriend who would later become Mrs. Elizabeth (Bland) Glynn. After college they returned to Kansas City where he became active in Jackson County Democratic Politics.

Today Phil and Elizabeth have three children (Maeve, Zeke and Blythe) and they own a business together. Phil is president of Travois—a small business headquartered in Kansas City. Since 1995, the company has brought over $1 billion in investments to senior housing, affordable family housing, childcare centers, hospitals and infrastructure in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.

He is a lifelong member of Visitation Catholic Church and is very active in our community through numerous charitable organizations.

JOLIE JUSTUS

KCMO has a growing problem with violent crime. What steps would you take to reduce crime in the city?

For decades our state and city have gotten tougher on crime, but we have just started to get smart on crime. When I was a state senator, I passed criminal justice reform that directly impacts our community, including a complete revision of the Missouri Criminal Code and the Justice Reinvestment Act. This legislation has started us down the path of putting the right people in prison and making sure we have opportunities for people when they re-enter our community. As mayor, I am prepared to continue that work. Violent crime in our community is a public health issue and I support evidence-based programs like the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, AIM for Peace and programs that take a public health approach to prevent crime. I support the addition of social workers to our KCPD patrol divisions and an increased focus on community interaction officers.

What solutions would you implement to make more affordable housing available in Kansas City, especially inner-city KCMO?

Housing plays a key role in providing stability to our most vulnerable citizens and is critical to the future of our city. In those areas where we have a lack of diversity in housing prices, public policy has a vital role. The city’s focus should be to create, preserve and stabilize housing throughout the entire city. On a case-by-case basis, public economic incentives should encourage or require a material portion of affordable housing units. If we focus on the corridors between existing economic incentive successes, and with an eye toward public transportation lines, the city can encourage affordable residential life. Additionally, we should move forward with proposals to fund the recently created Housing Trust Fund. This funding should be targeted toward creating new housing, preserving existing stock and providing legal and financial assistance to help residents stay in their current homes.

ABOUT JOLIE

As a Kansas City Councilmember, Jolie has worked closely with Mayor Sly James to turn Kansas City into a world-class, 21st-century city. From leading the fight for a new, single terminal at KCI to expanding Kansas City’s downtown streetcar line, Jolie has helped pave the way for Kansas City’s success story.

Representing Kansas City’s 4th District, Jolie was appointed by Mayor James to serve as the Chair of the Airport Committee; Vice-Chair of the Finance and Governance Committee; and member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Prior to serving on the City Council, Jolie represented the Kansas City area in the Missouri State Senate.

There too, she earned a reputation for getting things done and working across party lines to find areas of common ground. One of her most significant accomplishments was an overhaul of the state’s criminal justice code that brought out-of-date policies from the 1970s into the 21st Century. The badly needed

criminal justice reform was lauded by prosecutors, law enforcement, defense lawyers and victims’ advocates for creating a system that was more just, more fair, and more effective.

While in Jefferson City, she served as the Senate Democratic Leader.

Jolie is a graduate of Missouri State University and University of Missouri– Kansas City School of Law. Since 2003 Jolie has served as the Director of Pro Bono Services for Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., where she is a champion for Kansas City’s most vulnerable citizens.

Jolie and her wife Lucy live in the Longfellow neighborhood, where they pretend to have control over a pack of energetic rescue dogs and plant what they generously refer to as an urban garden.

HENRY KLEIN

KCMO has a growing problem with violent crime. What steps would you take to reduce crime in the city?

Let’s start with a simple premise – we need faster response times here in Kansas City. I work in the inner city of KC and I can tell you from both first-hand experience and from listening to my customers that this is a huge problem. This is the kind of issue that impacts all of us no matter where you live in our city.

I have great admiration for men and women of our police department and I’d recommend anyone to enroll in the citizen’s police academy. My proposal for local control of the police department is part of an effort to put a greater priority on faster response times.

Kansas City is a great place to live, but rapidly increasing price of rent is putting the city out of reach for many.

What solutions would you implement to make more affordable housing available in Kansas City, especially inner-city KCMO?

We clearly need more “supply” of quality low-cost housing here in Kansas City. I’m proposing two ideas – as a former board president for Habitat for Humanity here in Kansas City, I’m a big advocate for public (local government), private (individuals and corporations) and non-profit (Habitat and other 501c3s) partnerships to create and rehab affordable housing. The second idea – when we use incentives for development, we couple them with requirements to fund any number of needed projects here in Kansas City. It could be affordable housing but it could also be a variety of other projects. We aren’t going to stop incentives but we can make them more fruitful for our citizens.

ABOUT HENRY

Henry Klein is a 30-year Kansas City resident, in his second run for mayor. He was recruited to Kansas City to work for RR Donnelley, and in his adult-life has the benefit of working for three Fortune 500 companies. This vast experience is unique among the candidates for mayor and has gained him an understanding of the consistent and constant needs to set and be accountable for goals.

Given our current issues and challenges, I’ve never seen a better time for someone from the outside to apply those very principles, particularly accountability, to our city government.

For the past three years, he’s worked as the branch manager at a Bank of America, near 63rd and Prospect.

“I work in the heart of the inner city with our incredible customers and fantastic staff.”

Klein remains an active volunteer. He’s served on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity for six years, and on the board of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City for nine years. Some of his other volunteer work includes feeding the homeless through Hope in the Streets, teaching adults to read through Crosslines Literacy Council and representing children to the court as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and working with people with special needs through Evening Care for over 30 years.

JERMAINE REED

KCMO has a growing problem with violent crime. What steps would you take to reduce crime in the city?

Addressing crime requires a holistic approach. We must be just as vigilant about fighting crime as we are about providing alternatives to crime. Steps to reducing crime include reducing blight, maintaining neighborhoods and opportunities for employment.

The City invests significantly in public safety by fully funding the Police Department (75% of General Fund Budget) and operating special initiatives including KC NOVA and AIM for Peace. I will work to assess the effectiveness of our special initiatives. In addition, it is critical to assertively and effectively represent the city’s interest on the Police Commission.

What solutions would you implement to make more affordable housing available, especially inner city KCMO?

We need to set an aggressive goal of ensuring that we create and preserve at least 5,000 affordable units by 2023. That start by defining affordability based on local median incomes, with particular focus on those earning $30,000 or less annually. The fact of the matters is that Kansas City is relatively affordable to middle and high-income individuals, but affordable housing is disappearing for those who are low income.

ABOUT JERMAINE

Raised by a single mother with five boys, Jermaine learned to navigate the challenges of childhood poverty and homelessness. This experience, combined with his mother’s grit and the support of his elders, taught him how to be resilient, and responsible to others.

For Jermaine, working hard to get a good education was key to overcoming life’s challenges. So after graduating from Northeast High School, he attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science, making him the first person in his family to attend college and receive a college degree. He went on to attended the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where he received an Executive Masters in Public Administration.

Motivated and inspired to live in our nation’s capital, Jermaine moved to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill. While there, he worked for a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational foundation devoted to conducting research on issues affecting African-Americans, and was a financial program manager with the local D.C. government.

Jermaine returned to Kansas City to help his mother, and mentor his three younger brothers, and to make sure they completed high school – they did! Back home in the Third District, Jermaine worked with Congressman Emanuel Cleaver to secure federal stimulus dollars to revitalize Kansas City’s urban core.

In 2011, he ran to represent the residents of the Third District on the City Council. Jermaine knew residents felt like their voices were being ignored, and they were frustrated their neighborhoods continued to be neglected by city hall.

Fueled with this knowledge, and dedicated to make a change, Jermaine defeated the incumbent council member by a wide margin, and he became the youngest council member in Kansas City history! Jermaine went on to easily win reelection in 2015.

In his two-terms representing the residents of Third District, Councilman Reed has worked to revitalize the city’s urban core and surrounding neighborhoods. Since 2011, Councilman Reed has brought over $300 million in transportation, affordable housing, business and economic development to the Third District.

SCOTT TAYLOR

KCMO has a growing problem with violent crime. What steps would you take to reduce crime in the city?

Future plans will include implementing collaborative programs that frame crime as a public health issue and engage many social service programs that currently exist in the community and schools. I supported increased funding for more police on the street so they can do more community policing, more 911-call takers to improve response times, and reward increases for tips leading to arrests. I advocated for the passage of the initiative that increased community interaction officers and social workers for neighborhood groups to aid those families impacted by crime with critical “wrap around services.” I sponsor community family movie nights at South Patrol to provide a safe place for children on summer nights. It’s a small but impactful way to open up the police station to the community and build relationships. I also sponsored ex-offender job fairs with the Police Department and encouraged small businesses to participate and hire ex-offenders.

What solutions would implement to make more affordable housing available in Kansas City, especially inner-city KCMO?

I have encouraged those developers that build housing to build more affordable housing in Kansas City. We need to encourage them to build a percentage of affordable units in new multi-family also. We also need a local fund to close the gap as many affordable housing projects do not pencil out on paper when banks are considering loans. Without HUD or the State of Missouri Low Income Tax Credits, it is difficult to build new affordable housing.

I proposed using the refunds the City receives on many Tax Increment Financing (TIF), surpluses from old TIF projects that are closing out, and transferring those into an affordable housing fund. Additionally, my East Side Revitalization Plan, just passed the City Council, has a $10 million home repair fund. Taylor requested the City Manager to first find funding from local banks for this fund. The repair of existing housing stock will help provide more affordable housing options for purchasers.

ABOUT SCOTT

Scott Taylor learned the value of hard work at a young age. He watched his mother work hard to balance raising three young children and three jobs to make ends meet. As the oldest, Taylor learned responsibility quickly and that he’d need to work twice as hard as the next person to make results happen.

Education has always been a priority for Scott who graduated from KU with a degree in political science, a law degree from UMKC and an MBA from Rockhurst.

His wife, Cathy has served as one of the youngest female Missouri State Representatives and is a former KC City Councilwoman. Both she and Scott have served on their local school board. Taylor has served eight years as City Councilman and Chairs the Planning and Zoning Committee in which all major economic development projects are discussed. He has played a leadership role in numerous projects including the new Hy-Vee Arena (formally Kemper Arena), Cerner South KC Campus, Fishtech, and Burns McDonnell expansion. These projects have resulted in thousands of new jobs.

He has been a leader in small business development, chairing and founding the first ever committee on small business and creating the nationally recognized small business loan program in Kansas City. He has led the redevelopment of many small business area shopping centers including Red Bridge, 63rd Street, and Martin City. He is proud of his Revive the Eastside comprehensive plan that creates opportunities and funds for small business development East of Troost.

STEVE MILLER

KCMO has a growing problem with violent crime. What steps would you take to reduce crime in the city?

City-wide initiatives will include: establishing a task force consisting of key leaders from schools, neighborhoods, police, prosecutors, health-care professionals, and business; aligning school and non-profit programs to address conflict resolution and anger management issues; creating after-school work opportunities; advocating for state legislation giving companies incentives to hire at-risk youth; adding more 911 operators to reduce response times, focusing more on community policing, increasing crisis-intervention training; and continuing to develop the Watch KC database; and, expanding the use of cameras and technologies like Shot-Spotter (while balancing privacy concerns). I will work to create a second-chance job-assistance program for non-violent offenders, along with programs to address neighborhood blight and either raze or rehab vacant homes.

Opportunities for youth will focus on improving recreational opportunities and interaction with law enforcement.

I will also work to take care of those charged with taking care of us by bolstering mental-health and physical check-up routines and offering resiliency training for first responders. I will broaden efforts to diversify the department, increase the number of community information officers and social workers, and provide continuing professional development, competitive compensation, and fiscally responsible benefits and pensions.

What solutions would you implement to make more affordable housing available in Kansas City, especially inner-city KCMO?

To resolve the affordable housing crisis, we are going to need multiple stakeholders at the table willing to commit to a long-term relationship to ensure the entire region moves forward. I will create an affordable housing task force comprised of stakeholders, experts, policy makers, investors and practitioners. Among other things the task force will be charged to examine public, private and philanthropic partnership to bring a foundation to address affordable housing through policy and subsidies, debt and equity, grants and social impact investing. By creating a solid multi-pronged partnership coupled with a strategic long-term plan, we can embrace a policy and provide housing to meaningfully address the affordable housing issue.

ABOUT STEVE

Steve was born and raised in Kansas City. He has served as a construction attorney for more than 35 years, solving complex problems on projects like the airport and streetcar in cities across the nation. He is a founding partner of the Miller Schirger Law Firm.

Statewide leadership asked Steve to serve the Missouri Department of Transportation, an entity larger than the City, for seven years as a member and as a two-term chair of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. As chair, Steve saved taxpayers $600 million, oversaw $6 billion in infrastructure improvements and brought back millions of dollars to Missouri from D.C.

Steve graduated from Rockhurst High School. He has earned his undergraduate, graduate and law degrees from Notre Dame.

A civic leader and business owner, Steve’s dedication to giving back has been a driving force in his life for decades. In 2001, he helped found Turning Point, a nonprofit providing services to those suffering from chronic illness, after supporting his wife through her battle with breast cancer. He has worked with Christmas in October since its founding 33 years ago to improve the homes of the low-income, elderly and disabled. He supports Cristo Rey High School to provide education for low-income students.