Elections

Justus and Lucas: Final questions and answers as the KC mayor’s race comes to a close

The debates are over, the last campaign dollars are being spent and the candidates for Kansas City mayor, Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas are making their closing arguments to voters before Tuesday’s general election.

Here’s one more look at where they stand on the key issues.

Crime

What can you do to curb violent crime compared to previous administrations? What specific ideas do you have?

Justus: It means more police officers dedicated to protecting and building trust in neighborhoods. But it also means focusing on innovative and systemic changes that are proven to work.

In my Neighborhoods First Agenda, which readers can find at www.justusforkc.com/neighborhoods, I provide action-oriented details that divide into several categories: Foster A Fairer Criminal Justice System; Address Mental Health Issues; Support Equity through Diversity on the Police Force; Data-Driven Policing; and Pursuing Illegal & Stolen Guns.

We need a greater focus on specialty courts and re-entry services for ex-offenders. We know how to reduce recidivism when we commit the resources to do it.

Just like I did when I drafted historic criminal justice reform legislation as a state senator, I will work with stakeholders (victims and their advocates, police, prosecutors, the judiciary, civil rights advocates, the defense bar, social workers and mental health professionals) to craft innovative strategies and tactics. This kind of collaboration is not easy, but it is necessary. This is not just “talk”—this is organizing for action.

Lucas: Create funding for more neighborhood officers, a key step to building relationships and providing a positive community presence. That’s in stark contrast to forcing officers to spend evenings driving from call-to-call without time to fully assess community needs and impacts. Invest in more detectives to improve clearance rates in homicides, violent (gun) crime, and sexual assault offenses.

Beyond merely treating violent crime as a public health issue, the City should direct Health Levy funds to behavioral health treatment and outreach to victims, survivors, and communities. Many of our shootings are retaliation. Rather than having officers respond to murder scenes, we should support funding of more health workers to treat the issue before further violence.

Reduce or eliminate incarceration for certain non-violent municipal ordinance violations, following voters’ passage by a 3-to-1 margin of reduced penalties for minor marijuana offenses in 2017. Provide more treatment for addiction services.

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