Retired Kansas City, Kansas Police Department Deputy Chief Tyrone Garner has announced his run for mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County. He’ll take on current first-term WYCO Mayor David Alvey, and a crowded field of candidates in the Tues., Aug. 3 primary. The top two candidates in the primary will advance to the general election on Tues., Nov. 2.
Garner joined KCKPD straight out of high school in 1987 and spent his entire professional career in the department, with only a slight interruption to serve the United States as a member of the Army. After his honorable discharge from the military, the Wyandotte High School graduate returned to KCKPD where he began climbing up the ranks. Garner went on to become the youngest African-American officer promoted to the ranks of detective, captain, major and deputy police chief.
Garner has been an active member of the Wyandotte County community. He served as a KCK Community College Board of Trustee member, a governor appointed member of the Kansas African-American Affairs Commission, an Ad-Hoc Group Against Crime board member and a KCK Housing Authority Board member. Garner was also a member of both the KCK Black Police Officers Association and KCK Latino Peace Officers Association.
Ahead of filing for office, Garner spoke to a variety of community members about challenges in Wyandotte County. He heard concerns about debt, poverty, inequity, discrimination, and he knew the people of Wyandotte deserve better.
“As we stand at the crossroads of what Wyandotte County can and should be, the people and I have spoken and believe that we cannot truly become a great community until the dividing line of economic segregation is dismantled,” Garner said in a statement. “There should not be a difference in what success looks like, feels like, and can be like as you move from east to west within our community.”
Garner’s priority is to bring community driven leadership to the Mayor’s office. Some of his other goals for office include:
• Mandatory racial sensitivity, cultural understanding, anger management, servant leadership, wellness, nutrition, de-escalation, critical thinking and implicit bias training for all public safety personnel.
• The publishing of complaint data and dispositions against law enforcement officers
• Alternatives to juvenile detention for non-violent juveniles, to include mentoring and counseling.
• An investment in making the “Quindaro Ruins” a first-class tourism destination.
• An inquiry on how best to establish cost-free high-speed internet access hubs throughout Wyandotte County.
• The funding of a cold-case squad that can investigate and orate with stakeholders to revisit unsolved or questionable murders.
• The establishment of “Mayor Monday” events where residents can schedule direct access to the Mayor.
“As someone that believes in the power of positive collaboration, I am committed to fresh ideas, new solutions and positive change centered on engaged community-driven leadership,” said Garner.
In addition to Garner and current Mayor Alvey, at press time, other candidates for WYCO mayor are Janice Witt and Daran Duffy.
The filing deadline is noon on June 1.
Other offices on the Wyandotte County ballot and some of the candidates who have filed include:
Tom Burroughs is running for his second term as Commissioner at-Large District 2, which covers districts 2, 3, 6 and 7. Burroughs is also the elected Kansas House Representatives for District 33. Claudine Sanders and J. Michael Tiner-Mackey have also filed for the position.
Covering northeast Wyandotte County, District 1 Commissioner Gayle Townsend tells us that she plans to seek reelection but as of press time she still has not filed. If reelected, this would be Townsend’s third term. Melvin Williams, owner of real estate company Presidential Flips, has filed for the seat.
So far, no one has filed to compete against current District 5 Commissioner Mike Kane, who is seeking his fifth term. District 5 covers northwest Wyandotte County.
District 7 Commissioner James F. Walters is running for a third term. Gavin Williams and Chuck Stites have also filed for this seat that covers southwest Wyandotte County.
District 8 Commissioner Jane W. Philbrook, who has filed for a third term, is competing against Andrew Davis, Tscher Manck and Geoffrey Kump. Davis is a 25-year-old graduate student at the University of Kansas studying public administration and hopes as commissioner to bring more opportunities for youth, support for small businesses and remove criminal penalties for marijuana use. Manck, a certified clinical hemodialysis technician, unsuccessfully ran for the Wyandotte County Register of Deeds in 2019. District 8 covers part of central Wyandotte County, including Kansas City, Kansas Community College, Coronado Middle School and Brenner Heights Creek.
Current Sheriff Donald Ash is not running for re-election. Charles Bunnell, Celisha Towers and Daniel Soptic are competing for the position. Towers was a sheriff’s deputy before being fired in 2016 for violating a requirement to be a Wyandotte County resident. In 2017, Towers filed a discrimination suit against the department alleging she was discriminated against since she knew White officers who lived outside the county. The suit was dismissed after the Unified Government agreed to convert Towers’ termination to a resignation. Some of Towers’ goals as sheriff include more community oversight, transparency and training in the department. Soptic is the other candidate with service experience in the Sheriff’s Department.
Board of Public Utilities District 2 member Thomas W. Groneman is running for a third term with no competition filed so far.
Board of Public Utilities At-large Position 1 member Mary Gonzales is running for a sixth term with no competition filed so far.
Board of Public Utilities At-large Position 2 member Ryan Eidson is running for a second term with no competition filed so far.
Three KCK Board of Education USD 500 seats, all at-large are open. So far, incumbents Maxine Drew and Wanda Brownlee Paige filed for a second term. Rachel Henderson, board treasurer for Rosedale Development Association and community representative for KC COVID Regional Fund is also running for a seat. She hopes to bring transparency and elevate parent voices.