In the wake of Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich’s suicide, the Kansas City Council on Thursday adopted a resolution urging civility in politics and in the coming council elections.
Councilman Ed Ford was the lead sponsor of the resolution, which got unanimous council support. He said it was prompted in part by Schweich’s untimely death in the midst of an apparently vicious whisper campaign about his candidacy for governor.
“The eloquent words of (former) Sen. (John) Danforth at his funeral put a lot of things in perspective,” Ford told his colleagues.
The resolution cites Danforth’s eulogy at Schweich’s funeral, in which he said, “Words do hurt. Words can kill.”
Ford also noted that many current members of the Kansas City Council, especially the women and minorities, have been subjected in recent years to unfair and malicious personal attacks, including heinous and anonymous comments on blogs, many of them racist and sexist “that go beyond the pale.”
The resolution notes that bullying and lack of civility reflects more poorly on the candidate doing the attacking than on the person being attacked, and said negative personal attacks just increase citizen dissatisfaction and disengagement from politics.
Kansas City politicians can conduct campaigns that are above board and not in the gutter, Ford and Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo reminded their colleagues.
They cited the mayor’s race four years ago, in which Sly James and Mike Burke debated issues in a respectful manner and did not engage in personal attacks.
Ford said that was an example of a campaign that “lends dignity to the office, to the candidates, and people feel good about their city.”