Kansas City’s next mayor’s election is more than two years away, but already one candidate has jumped out to a huge fundraising advantage.
City Councilman Scott Taylor, a second-termer from south Kansas City, has $330,740 cash on hand to spend on a mayor’s race, while other potential candidates have just a fraction of that money.
Sly James is in his second term as mayor and cannot run again because of term limits. So the real jockeying for who will replace him is expected to rev up next year. The next mayor and council elections are in April and June 2019, with a new council taking office Aug. 1, 2019.
So far, Taylor is the only person in Kansas City who has formed a fundraising committee to run for mayor.
His campaign helpfully put out a press release outlining not only his money-raising prowess but also showing how little money the rest of his council colleagues had raised.
Taylor, the 6th District at-large councilman, insisted he wasn’t bragging about that advantage. He said it was all public record via the Missouri Ethics Commission, and it was simply disseminated to the media for their information. But it was marked “for immediate release,” which is usually intended for public consumption.
Taylor, a lawyer, emphasized he is focusing on his current term in office, where he chairs the influential Planning, Zoning and Economic Development committee and has overseen efforts to repurpose Kemper Arena.
But he said he does everything in a very organized manner, so he began raising money quite early to run for mayor.
There’s still plenty of time for potential mayoral contenders to get in the game. But Taylor has already gotten support from many of the traditional funders, including other lawyers, union and labor groups, some neighborhood leaders and small businesses.
In that regard, Taylor is following an approach that James also used successfully.
Sly James had never before run for office when he first ran for mayor in 2011. But he started raising money early too, and his big fundraising advantage helped him do far better in the mayoral primary than council members who had a lot more name-recognition.
Other current council members were a bit taken aback when shown the press release with Taylor’s numbers compared to theirs, and insisted they aren’t in fundraising mode.
“I think that it’s more important to do what we’re here to do now,” said Councilman Scott Wagner, also a second-termer from the Northland, who has $24,668 cash on hand, according to the most recent Missouri Ethics Commission disclosure report. Wagner is mayor pro tem and finance committee chairman, and lately has been concentrating on planning the city’s next budget.
Like Taylor, Wagner will be term-limited out of his council seat in 2019. He said he may be interested in running for mayor, but that’s not where his emphasis is now. “There’s plenty of time to think about the next job,” he said.
Third District Councilman Jermaine Reed, best known for his work on the 18th and Vine Jazz District, is also in his second term, so he cannot run again because of term limits. He said he’s not currently running for mayor, but if an opportunity avails itself he would consider it. He has $31,077 cash on hand.
A few other council members have been touted as potential mayoral material, although they are just in their first terms and could run again for council.
Among those are:
▪ Fourth District Councilwoman Jolie Justus, a former state legislator who now chairs the city’s Airport Committee. She has $22,842 cash on hand.
▪ Fourth District at-large Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, who previously served as Jackson County Executive. She has $33,204 on hand.
▪ Third District at-large Councilman Quinton Lucas, a lecturer on the faculty of KU Law School. He has $28,027 on hand.
All have said they are enjoying their council jobs and are focused on that work.
The council member with the second biggest war chest is 6th District Councilman Kevin McManus, with 116,926 cash on hand. McManus, a first-termer, is a former state legislator who had raised a lot of money for his legislative and first council races.
He said he has no plans to run for mayor. “My job is to be a good council person and a good dad,” said McManus, the father of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old.