The Star’s Editorial Board with BikeWalkKC co-founder Eric Bunch
In a night of decisive election results up and down the ballot, City Council incumbents cruised to reelection, civic leaders stepped up to fill open seats and only two races stayed close down to the wire Tuesday night.
In the 4th District, Eric Bunch, co-founder of BikeWalkKC and an advocate for transportation and infrastructure funding, won in a photo finish with 50.9% of the vote. He defeated Geoff Jolley, a firefighter, lawyer and former aide to U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.
In the race for Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas’ vacated 3rd District at-large seat, Brandon Ellington, a state representative, won with 51.3%, squeaking by Wallace Hartsfield II, a pastor and community organizer.
The contest generated controversy when a mailer was distributed with “race-baiting” imagery of Ellington, showing him with a gun superimposed over the Country Club Plaza. Ellington said he thought Hartsfield was behind it, which Hartsfield denied. Both candidates are black.
The mailer was put out by a group called Concerned Citizens of Waldo, which failed to report its spending on the mailer. But on Tuesday, the group filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, showing that Freedom Inc., a black political group that endorsed Hartsfield, donated $12,500 to Concerned Citizens of Waldo.
The 6th District at-large race also featured attack mailers, and once again the target of the attacks prevailed in the election. Andrea Bough was portrayed as a cartoon wind-up doll at the whim of special interests. Her opponent, Stacey Johnson-Cosby, said the ad was in response to what she said was a “whisper campaign” that she is a Republican. Johnson-Cosby is a longtime KC real estate broker and landlord.
Bough, who was a member of Mayor Sly James’ transition team and chair of his Commission on Ethics Reform, easily dispatched Johnson-Cosby with 62% of the votes.
The race for the other 3rd District seat was between two well-known candidates. Melissa Robinson, former president of the Kansas City school board and the Black Health Care Coalition, won with 56% of the vote. She defeated Joseph “Joey Cuts” Thomas, a barber who runs a nonprofit that helps young urban core men.
In the 5th District, Ryana Parks-Shaw, a business owner, longtime hospital executive and member of a statewide board examining hospice care, handily defeated Edward Bell with 68% of the vote. Bell is a business consultant, substitute teacher and member of the Public Improvement Advisory Committee.
The three incumbents who were opposed crushed their challengers:
▪ 2nd District: Incumbent Dan Fowler defeated Kevin McEvoy, a sales manager in the steel industry. Fowler won more than 80% of the vote.
▪ 4th District at-large: Incumbent Katheryn Shields defeated Robert Westfall, an entrepreneur who ran on a story of addiction and redemption. Shields won 77% of the vote.
▪ 5th District at-large: Incumbent Lee Barnes Jr. defeated Dwayne Williams, president of Twelfth Street Heritage Development Corp., which rehabilitates homes in the urban core. Barnes won with 62%.
Four races were uncontested, including incumbents Heather Hall of the 1st District; Teresa Loar, 2nd District at-large; and Kevin McManus, 6th District.
Newcomer Kevin O’Neill also won unopposed in the 1st District at-large race, which was left open by Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner after he reached his term limit and lost in the April mayoral primary.