Kansas City Council elections are June 23, and candidates for most citywide races are desperately looking for votes.
With Mayor Sly James gliding toward an easy re-election, the public is paying little attention to these council campaigns.
Still, it matters a great deal who’s going to make decisions about the city’s $1.4 billion budget and whether the public is going to get solid plans to upgrade the airport, extend the streetcar line and handle a host of other crucial city issues.
The Star today makes recommendations for the six at-large seats and plans to offer recommendations on Monday for the in-district seats. The Star already has endorsed James.
Two at-large races deserve the most attention.
▪ In the 2nd District, Teresa Loar and Jay Hodges are passionate but flawed candidates.
Loar is trying to return to the council, and her years of experience on airport and neighborhood matters, in particular, could benefit the city as it tackles those priorities.
Hodges is a newcomer who gained valuable insights into how to improve city government while serving as a top aide to James. He offers thoughtful comments on the need to boost economic development in different parts of the city.
But both also have weaknesses that prompt concern.
Loar throughout her career has had ethical lapses that undermined her credibility. If voters send her to City Hall again, she will have to stay focused on dealing with the public’s business. Hodges has a way of putting off people with an attitude that comes across as my-way-or-the-highway. It’s not conducive to compromising, which he will be doing a lot of if elected.
Overall, The Star gives a slight nod to Teresa Loar. The council is losing many experienced voices, and Loar has the capability to quickly become an effective council member.
▪ In the 4th District, Jim Glover is The Star’s preferred candidate, but opponent Katheryn Shields finished surprisingly close behind in the primary. Voters will get an experienced elected official no matter who wins.
Glover has built a lengthy resume on the City Council. He has pursued innovative ideas to revive neighborhoods while also serving as a brave and sometimes lonely voice against excessive spending by the Fire Department. He has provided key support for infrastructure upgrades, especially for roads. Glover is tenacious and stubborn, qualities that endear him to people who support the issues he likes but that really rile critics.
Shields was a City Council member before serving three terms as Jackson County Executive. She was the main politician behind the city’s successful 1 percent for art program and, at the county, cobbled together a cost-effective plan to keep the Royals and Chiefs at Truman Sports Complex. Shields relishes the role as deal maker, which is often an attribute but not always in the world of politics.
If elected, Glover would be a steady, focused voice for handling many important development projects sure to come before the council.
The four other at-large races are far less contentious. Briefly:
▪ 1st District: Incumbent Scott Wagner has served thoughtfully and calmly his first four years. His opponent is Jeffrey Roberts.
▪ 3rd District: Quinton Lucas has all the tools needed to be an effective voice on all city issues, especially the entrenched ones that affect the urban core. His opponent is Stephan Gordon.
▪ 5th District: Without much enthusiasm, we endorse Lee Barnes Jr. over Dennis Anthony. Barnes has served on a school board and several city economic development panels.
▪ 6th District: Incumbent Scott Taylor is unopposed.