Well, this year’s mayoral race has been quiet to say the least…
Current mayor Mark Funkhouser is still somewhat of a force. Why? Name recognition that many of the other candidates don’t for one. And with a very small turnout lkely tomorrow, that well could work for the incumbent mayor. Remember, only one seated mayor has lost their second term in the last 100 years. Kay Barnes wasn’t very popular in her second run and barely beat my dad, Stan Glazer. Stan got 42% of the vote. Not bad for a man who had never dabbled been in city politics and who got muckraked by the Star. So Barnes was re-elected and the same thing could happen with Funk, even though he doesn’t appear even a little bit popular.
Two candidates getting some traction are Sly James and Deb Hermann.
And here’s what they had to say when I caught up to them yesterday
Sly James is a local attorney of note. And I’m very impressed with his ability to communicate. If he wins, he’d be the second Kansas City Mayor of color, the other being Emanuel Cleaver.
Sly says the lack of interest in this year’s race is due to the economy and people having issues of their own to sort out in this troubled economy. On top of that there was very little money put into any of the campaigns from donors, which explains why there are so few yard signs out there this year.
James is an excellent talker and feels he can mend fences at City Hall better than the other candidates. And you know what? He may be right. In his opinion Funkhouser is just not a strong leader. He lost the City Council backing early on and has struggled to get anything done since. James says this will be a strong point for him. He feels the council will back his play. And he wants to concentrate on better relations with the police department, improve basic services and move forward on things people can actually see and appreciate.
James background in the law will be a big help to him and the city because he knows where the hurdles ahead lie. I met him several years ago and was impressed with his presence and charisma.
This is something clearly lacking with the current mayor.
"You have to be able to get people working together not against each other," James says. "This is what I will do and do quickly. Nothing gets done when everyone is fighting each other as we have seen this past four years."
Sly James may just be the right man at the right time for Kansas City.
The question remains: Do voters know enough about him and his position to believe that to be the case? If he’s one of the two finalists, he’ll will make a strong run. He’s well-heeled and very sharp. We’ll find out tomorrow.
Deb Hermann has been on the City Council for the past eight years. She’s gained the respect of many around the city. Deb led the way on the finance committee trying to make sure money went where it needs to go. If she becomes mayor things would change, she says.
" Look basic services are important for so many reasons," she says. "Including this, a clean neighborhood promotes better behavior, less crime and better education. And we are making good strides in turning around the shcools in Kansas City Missouri. To the point of reopening some."
Like Sly, Deb, has some well placed banners around town, more than most.
"Nothing gets the attention of a school more than having SIX HOT MOMS COMPLAINING all at once to improve the education and saftey at the school."
"Neighborhoods need to be cleaned up and we can do this as a city working together," Hermann says. "Its the old broken windows concept. If it looks dirty and nobody seems to care, why should the public care? When a city gets to that point, crime goes up. People lose respect for their community."
Deb has worked long and hard on this plan of basic services coming up several notches. She pointed out one program she worked on this past year: Snow Removal. Two years ago we all heard it, Kansas has got their streets cleared off, why doesn’t KCMO?
Deb said by restructuring this year’s budget, Kansas City achieved a marked improvement in snow removal. I noticed that myself – it was much better.
Deb also believes in getting rid of the red tape for small businesses.
"We need to invite new businesses not send them away," she says "Same with law enforcement. We control the police budget, we do have power with our police department. Let’s use it to have fewer speed traps and more cops in hot spots to do what is important, protect the citizens."
Deb feels the DUI checkpoints are overused and produce little positive results other then making it appear police are on the job.
Her husband worked on nuclear subs in the navy and she traveled with him all over the country as a young lady.
"In every city we lived, I went and got a job right away in food service, as a waitress," she says. "So you bet I know the problems these small businesses are having in KCMO. Restaurants and bars stay clean because the owners want your business, not because control groups from the city come in and fine people or arrest them for failing to have a liquor card on them. This has to stop. We need to build up this city by inviting people to visit and live here, not run them off."
I heard many of the same good ideas from Tracy Ward, running for 6th district (at large) city council position.
It’s nice to hear a group of really smart people all on the same page. Maybe the pink haired lady, Tracy, will work well with people like Deb Hermann or Sly James.
The key is to work together and get our city moving in the right direction. It sounds good to me.