Government & Politics

At swearing in, KC Mayor Quinton Lucas promises ‘safer, healthier and stronger’ city

Quinton Lucas sworn in as Kansas City’s mayor

Amid a packed City Council chambers, Quinton Lucas was sworn in as Kansas City’s 55th mayor on Thursday, promising an era of renewal and investment in the city that he said raised him.
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Amid a packed City Council chambers, Quinton Lucas was sworn in as Kansas City’s 55th mayor on Thursday, promising an era of renewal and investment in the city that he said raised him.

Quinton Lucas was sworn in as Kansas City’s 55th mayor on Thursday, promising an era of renewal and attention to longstanding issues in the city that he said helped raise him.

Lucas, 34, grew up on the city’s East Side with a single mother and two sisters. They moved frequently and found themselves, at times, homeless. He said both his family and the city itself shaped him.

“The adversity that I faced here every day — it made me stronger,” Lucas said.

Lucas bested opponent Jolie Justus by 17 points in the June city election, promising a city that works for all its citizens, less attention on flashy projects, a focus on housing and an effort to bring down the violent crime rate. He echoed those promises in his inaugural address Thursday, saying he would work to make every Kansas City neighborhood safer, healthier and stronger.

He said the investment previous administrations made in public amenities and the mentorship he received from community organizations helped him grow as a child. Seeing previous city leaders, like now-Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, made him believe he could dream of doing anything.

“So our work now, council colleagues, is to expand that hope and make sure it’s maintained for every person in our city, young or old. Our work is to make sure that no one is left behind in Kansas City in our next generation. And our work is to ensure that we leave this city and its diverse neighborhoods...safer, healthier and stronger than we find them today.”

In his inaugural address, Lucas made bold promises to lower violent crime, including the city’s high homicide rate, a problem that has plagued the city and befuddled politicians for decades.

“I ask my colleagues to stand with me as we commit by the end of this term to getting our city off the FBI top 10 most dangerous cities list,” Lucas said.

He also promised to collaborate with the council and address over the next four years public safety, workforce development and housing and infrastructure while championing fiscal responsibility and affordable housing.

Lucas attended The Barstow School before leaving Kansas City to attend Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell Law School. He taught at the University of Kansas School of Law and was elected to the City Council as a 3rd District at-large councilman in 2015.

During that four-year term, he served with now-former Mayor Sly James, whom he succeeds. While the two often disagreed fiercely, Lucas said he admires James and acknowledged his service to the city and his time serving the country as a member of the Marine Corps.

James, in turn, congratulated Lucas on his swearing in and gave him Kansas City cuff links so that he could wear his feelings about the city on his sleeve and a flask to help him through the job. James told Lucas he would be available anytime Lucas needed him.

Lucas’ law school classmate, Congresswoman Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, ventured across the state line to introduce her friend and congratulate him on his ascension to the office.

Davids noted the two were both raised by single mothers and had to overcome obstacles on their ascent to public office and said they shared a dedication to improving their communities.

“At the end of the day, one of the reasons that I’m so glad to be at the beginning of this journey with you is because I know that dedication does not depend on where the state line is,” Davids said. “It is truly one KC.”

Also sworn in Thursday were returning council members Heather Hall, Teresa Loar, Dan Fowler, Katheryn Shields, Lee Barnes and Kevin McManus and new council members Kevin O’Neill, Brandon Ellington, Melissa Robinson, Eric Bunch, Ryana Parks-Shaw and Andrea Bough.

Lucas announced on Twitter Wednesday that he had appointed McManus as mayor pro tem.

After members were sworn in, the new mayor and council held their first meeting of the new four-year term, passing legislation to honor Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, tweak council meeting rules to make proceedings more efficient, reduce the number of committees, allow the mayor to appoint council members to procurement committees and to create a special committee to address housing policy, a key campaign priority for Lucas.

Lucas met with Parson in the afternoon to discuss workforce development, transportation, affordable housing, crime, early childhood development and ending the “Border War,” the practice of spending economic development funds to lure businesses back and forth across the state line.

Both Lucas and Parson said they had been in touch with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration, which is expected to issue an executive order dealing with the subject on Friday. Parson signed a bill in June that would end the practice of using state incentives to poach business from Kansas, but it will only take effect if Kansas reciprocates.

Lucas and the new council will be celebrated at a First Fridays block party in the Crossroads Arts District and a ticketed cocktail reception Saturday at Union Station.

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Allison Kite reports on City Hall and local politics for The Star. She joined the paper in February 2018 and covered Midterm election races on both sides of the state line. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in economics and public policy from the University of Kansas.