David Alvey’s deep connections to Wyandotte County were evident Monday night during his swearing in as the Unified Government’s new mayor and CEO.
Three rows of seats at Memorial Hall were designated for the Alvey family, with every spot filled. An Alvey sang the national anthem. Another Alvey played “Amazing Grace” on the violin. And an Alvey led the new mayor in the oath of office.
Indeed, the strong support David Alvey received from family, friends and public service employees, particularly firefighters, fueled a successful bid to unseat Mark Holland, denying him a second term of office.
The Star did not endorse Alvey and instead recommended Holland for reelection, noting that his tenure had yielded economic progress and intensified efforts to battle blight.
But fresh leadership often ushers in new ideas and energy. Alvey deserves a chance to implement his agenda and build on existing momentum in Wyandotte County.
Now, he must make it clear that he will consider the best interests of all citizens and will not be beholden to the public service employees who played a key role in electing him.
Holland exited the office amid rising tensions with the fire union that came to a boil with the release of a new study showing that a practice called shift trading had paid $920,000 to firefighters for hours they didn’t work last year. Police and fire protection comprise 60 percent of the county budget, and those tax dollars must be spent efficiently.
The findings of the report should not be shelved just to keep the peace with the firefighters’ union. Alvey must follow through and address the serious issues raised in the study.
The corruption that scandalized Wyandotte County before the unification of the city and county governments 20 years ago can never be revisited. Since that darker time, the county has bolstered both its reputation and its economy, drawing national recognition for the Village West developments, including the Kansas Speedway and Sporting KC stadium.
It’s past time for progress to spread to more impoverished portions of the community. That was an important part of Alvey’s message during the fall campaign. Now, he should make good on his promises to address the needs of northeast neighborhoods.
“I love this city and I love this county,” Alvey noted in his brief acceptance remarks Monday. He concluded with this call to action, “All I want to say is: Let’s go Wyandotte.”
Indeed, the continued success of Wyandotte County will strengthen the entire metropolitan area. It’s time to get to work.