Tuesday’s primary in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., mayoral race is a serious three-way contest between current mayor/CEO Mark Holland, David Alvey, who serves on the Board of Public Utilities, and longtime state Sen. David Haley.
Radio personality D. Keith Jordon, who goes by “T-Bone” on WQRC-FM’s Johnny Dare morning show, and Janice Grant Witt, a financial services broker who volunteers her time as CEO of the nonprofit Reola Grant Center, round out the field of contenders. Voters will choose which two of the five will be on the ballot for the Nov. 7 general election.
Though we’re not endorsing in the primary, we do note that Holland can be proud of two accomplishments in particular: bringing in significant new investment and some 11,000 new jobs, including about 1,000 at the Amazon fulfillment center opening in the Turner Diagonal area. Holland has faced criticism for having a bodyguard, but so does his Kansas City counterpart, Mayor Sly James, whose security detail had to push him to the ground during a 2011 shooting at the Country Club Plaza.
Alvey highlights his family’s history of public service in Wyandotte, and in a recent mayoral debate repeatedly said good parenting is the ultimate antidote to problems in any community: “Strong families build strong neighborhoods and strong neighborhoods build strong cities” more reliably than economic development ever could.
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Haley, who has been in the Kansas Legislature since 1995, is running on greater transparency, more accountability and “growth and opportunity in other villages in our county besides Village West.” Yet Haley, a lawyer and former assistant district attorney, is reluctant to criticize the incumbent, whom he calls a “tremendous placeholder.”
That’s unlike Witt, who laughed at the recent debate when asked to rate the incumbent: “I think he’s done a great job of alienating the community.” The self-described “people’s candidate,” she also ran in 2013 and wants to make it easier for more mom-and-pop type grocery stores to open in food deserts. Jordon, a former volunteer firefighter, wants to reduce property taxes and re-examine public contracts. “I do believe he’s trying,” he said of Holland, even if “there has been a bunch of people ignored.”
The race is really a referendum on Holland, who points to low unemployment and the lowest city tax rate in 50 years in making the case for his re-election. “We’re delivering,” he says, and we agree.