Cindy Circo isn’t about to let term limits push her to the sideline of civic affairs when her second four-year term on the Kansas City Council ends in 2015.
By MIKE HENDRICKS
The Kansas City Star
“I have lots of people who say, ‘You’ve got to stay in the arena,’ ” Circo said.
The 5th District at-large councilwoman and mayor pro tem has formed a political action committee with a dual purpose. One, keep her name out front, should she decide to run for another office. Among the present options, though, none appeal to her at this time.
The other purpose is uncommon for someone planning for life after the City Council. She’s created an organization that promotes local causes and candidates she believes in, complete with a handsome logo, website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel.
It’s called Go for KC, and has the feel and shape of a movement more than a celebration of the political figure behind it.
“GO for KC is a project designed to support candidates and programs that seek to expand growth and opportunity in Kansas City,” the website says.
Clearly, there is no mistaking who’s at the center of that project. Circo is pictured front and only slightly off center on the Go For KC homepage, along with a boosterish quote from her about how “Kansas City may be the most exciting city in the country right now,” followed by a line you might have heard once or twice before.
“Our best days are still to come,” she says.
But the site is is far more modest than some previous efforts of former city officials to stay in the limelight after being term-limited from office.
Troy Nash, for instance, also set up a website for when he left office in 2007. Six years later it’s still up, touting Nash as a “visionary economic development professional, deeply committed public servant, and volunteer with a passion for improving the quality of life of all of the world’s people.”
Circo formed Go for KC in May, according to records on file at the Missouri Ethics Commission. She shifted all $29,000 that was in her council campaign fund to the new PAC and hired a campaign consultant, Dover Strategy Group, to put up the website and do other organizational work.
In addition to hiring Larry Jacob and others with Dover because of their organizational expertise, Circo said, the choice was also symbolic. Dover also does work for Mayor Sly James, so the choice was in part an answer to rumors that she might challenge James if he runs for re-election in 2015.
“I wouldn’t even remotely think about running against Mayor James,” Circo said.
She likes the job James is doing, and James returns the compliment.
“Without a doubt, she represents the citizens of her district with class, dedication, and a commitment to results,” James said. “I truly admire her and respect what a role model she is for civic-minded individuals throughout our community, particularly for women who may consider public service as a career.”
Circo thinks the current council works well together and has the city headed in the right direction on issues like ethics reform, financial planning and proper setting of priorities.
That’s why she is no friend of term limits.
“I’m very concerned that there are six termed-out, strong leaders leaving the council right now,” she said.
She worries about a loss of momentum. Others who will have to leave and sit out at least four years before being able to run for council again include Jan Marcason and John Sharp who, like Circo, represent districts south of the river. Northland council members Russ Johnson and Ed Ford are also on the way out.
Replacing all that experience — Sharp and Ford were also on the council in the 1990s — won’t be easy, Circo said. It takes awhile for first-time council members to get up to speed, she said.
Plus, there’s a chance that some of the six first-term council members could lose their seats to challengers.
So one of Go for KC’s goals, she said, is to have a one-day training session this winter for people thinking about running for a council seat.
“I’m picking up the mantle to try to help,” Circo said.
City Manager Troy Schulte and other officials may be brought in to talk about budgeting, planning and other issues “that people generally learn on the fly.”
Rather than taking a year to get up to speed, future council members might be more effective more quickly, she said.
Before going on the council, Circo owned nail salons, but it’s doubtful she’ll be going back to that full time when she leaves office. Although at the insistence of a couple of longtime clients, she said, she still attends to them to keep her skills up.
Recently, Circo graduated with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and hopes to become involved in something where she can put to work some of the things she learned at City Hall. Restoring the urban core and housing issues were among her many interests.
“You can’t predict what happens next,” she said.
As for politics, there’s not much she’s interested in outside of City Hall.
Jackson County Legislature?
Not hands-on enough, she said. Legislators put in very few hours and rarely work on policy issues of the kind that consume many hours at City Hall.
“I have been extremely busy over here,” she said. “It is not part time.”
Circo is not interested in running for the state legislature, either, but says something will click eventually.
Meantime, she’ll keep doing her council job and using Go for KC as a way to promote the city, she said.
To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4378, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.