In the Tues., April 6 election, voters approved the renewal of the 1% earnings tax that community leaders say is an important tax that funds critical city services.

“After a year of COVID-19 pandemic closings and loss of revenue to the city, the earnings tax is one of the most crucial taxes that voters will be asked to renew,” said Rodney Bland, president of Freedom Inc., in a statement before the polls opened.

The ballot question passed with more than 70% ‘yes’ votes. The vote renews the tax for five more years.

The earnings tax is a 1% tax on an individual’s earned income that pays for city services like road repairs, trash pickup, police and firefighter salaries, ambulances, snow removal and historic preservation.

“The earnings tax helps us take care of our neighborhoods and keep our community working,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Anyone who lives or works in Kansas City pays the tax, including businesses and non-residents who work in the city. The tax generates almost $300 million annually.

“(I’m) ecstatic about tonight’s result, which protects city jobs and delivery of key services,” said Lucas. “I’m grateful that after one of the most challenging years in our history, Kansas Citians showed confidence in their leaders and our efforts to build a healthier and stronger Kansas City.”

Park Hill District Elects First Black School Board Member, Lee’s Summit Elects Another

On Tuesday, voters in the Park Hill District elected their first African-American school board member and Lee’s Summit elected the second African-American member of their school board.

“Being the first African American to serve on the Park Hill District Board is history,” said newly elected and first-time candidate Brandy Maltbia Woodley. “But my main goal was to make a difference in the schools for every single family, student and teacher in the district.”

Woodley works in the department of military history at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College and has three daughters in the Park Hill district. The district is located in North Kansas City, south of the Kansas City International Airport, with the western edge running along the Missouri River.

Winning one of two open board seats, Woodley said she’s committed to ensuring excellence in the district through equity and, ensuring that all unheard voices are heard.

“The board should be reflective of our diverse community and I will help move our district in that direction,” Woodley said.

Park Hill voters also re-elected incumbent school board president Kimberlee Ried.

Lee’s Summit elected its first African-American woman, Megan Marshall, to the school board last year. Newly elected Rodrick King Sparks, who was the only Black candidate in this year’s race, will join Marshall on the school board.

Some of Sparks’ plans for the school board include enhancing the district’s COVID-19 protocols to safely keep students and teachers in the classroom, expanding mental health services for students and working with the board to create policies that assist students whose academic performance was negatively impacted by virtual learning.

“It’s been a tough year for all our families,” Sparks said. “We have sacrificed a lot. Our time, our health, even our freedom, but I still see plenty of opportunities to help our kids be the best if we work together.”

Voters also re-elected Ryan Murdoch, incumbent Lee’s Summit school board president.

Newcomers Win KCPS School Board Seats Backed By Nonprofit Blaque KC

Voters elected two new members to the Kansas City school board, thanks in part to successful campaigns backed by the nonprofit Black Leaders Advancing Quality Urban Education (Blaque KC). Tanesha Ford, executive director of Kauffman Scholars, a college access and scholarship program to help low-income students prepare for college, won the atlarge seat occupied by board chairman Pattie Mansur, with just over 56% of votes.

In an especially tight race between two newcomers, Kandace Buckner, continuum coach and instructor for Kansas City Teacher Residency, eked out a victory for the SubDistrict 5 seat that covers the southeast part of the school district. Buckner, who is African American, defeated Bruce Beatty, who is also Black.

Blaque KC, which has the primary goal of improving the academic performance of Black public-school students in KC, spent more than $100,000 in support of Ford and Buckner’s campaigns. According to their filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission, the funding was spent on advertising and political consultants.

Cokethea Hill, founder of Blaque KC, has not revealed where the funding originated, which raised questions for competitor Mansur.

“This election cycle has been unlike anything the Kansas City metro has seen before,” said Mansur in a statement. She expressed her concern about the large amount of unidentified funding being poured into the race for unpaid public service roles.

“I stepped into this race with pure intentions and a heart of just wanting to serve kids and families in this community,” said Ford after results were announced. “I stepped into this with a mindset and with a mantra of our children being our priority. I just want everyone to know that is more than a mantra to me. It’s real life.”

Some of Ford’s plans include pushing the district to achieve full accreditation, addressing inequities in the school district and recruiting and retaining more educators of color.

Raytown school district voters reelected board member Alonzo Burton and elected new board member Donna Peyton.

Hickman Hill school district voters re-elected board member Carol Graves and elected new board member Ann Coleman.

Grandview school district voters re-elected board president Leonard Greene.

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