Congrats, Kansas City, for voting to build the new airport we need.
It’s always instructive to listen to voters, and what we gleaned from those we talked to at polling places here on Tuesday is that the overwhelming yes vote majority for a new single terminal Kansas City International Airport reflected a recognition of the poor impression that the current facility makes.
Darryl Carter voted yes for one reason: “Because I’ve been out to the airport,’’ he said, laughing. Having seen ours and others around the country, he said, made Question 1 an easy call.
Former City Councilwoman Mary Williams-Neal agreed that the need was clear: “We need a rest place for people from out of town — a place where people feel safe, and like we’re in the 21st century.”
“It’s just time,’’ said Colleen Bauman. “Even though I love it how it is, I want the benefit of building a better Kansas City, so I’m willing to take a chance that the benefits will [outweigh any downside] even if it’s not as convenient.”
Sue Neff said it was a relative visiting from Oregon who had made her realize how bad things had gotten: “My sister said it was the worst airport to come into.”
They’re all correct, in our view, as we’ve said again and again.
Sue Neff’s husband, Bob Neff, who voted against the new airport, also made a fair point we heard over and over at polling places. “Too many shenanigans going on” at City Hall, he said, shaking his head over the initially no-bid selection process. Mayor Sly James “has not been too forthcoming without being pressured.”
That, too, we can attest to.
Lori Fletcher went so far as to say that although “we desperately need a new airport,” she voted no anyway. Why? “I was going to vote yes,” she said, until she saw a news clip on how the selection process had unfolded. “What was done with Sly not taking the time to do the bids right” changed her mind. “We do need it, but we need to do it correctly,” with more transparency and without any attempted insider deals. “They wanted to make sure Uncle Bubba got the work, and there’s too much of that in this town.”
A number of no votes on the East Side of Kansas City had nothing to do with the airport, but everything to do with sending city officials a message.
“Every time you turn around they’re doing something for the Plaza” or other areas that need no help, one voter said. Whereas where he lives off Paseo, the man said, “we’ll all be in the ground before we see anything over here.”
Their protest votes were swamped, though, by the majority of Kansas Citians convinced that a new airport will attract new business and help the economy of the city as a whole.
And the mayor was tart in victory. “Whether you were a hater in the beginning or a hater tonight,” James said at a victory celebration, “shake it off.”