Voters in Kansas City’s 4th City Council District have two good choices for their next in-district councilman. On balance, Eric Bunch is better qualified, and he deserves voters’ support in the June 18 election.
Bunch is a co-founder of what is now called BikeWalkKC, which focuses on sidewalks, bike paths, street crossings and pedestrian safety. One of the City Council’s priorities in the next four years will be figuring out how to smoothly integrate scooters and bicycles with cars and buses to make streets and sidewalks safe and convenient.
Bunch will be enormously helpful on that issue.
At the same time, a commitment to eventually spend $400 million on a network of bike trails and lanes, as contemplated in the Bike KC Master Plan, isn’t in the city’s best interest, at least not yet. In our meeting with the candidates, Bunch defended the plan, but said it would cost less than the estimated $400 million to implement.
“We’ve got many, many miles of streets that need to be re-paved,” he said. “That is the opportunity to install bike lanes. Not every street’s going to get a bike lane, but you can cut down the cost.”
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Members of The Kansas City Star editorial board interview political candidates, as well as advocates and opponents of ballot measures. The editorial board is comprised of experienced opinion journalists and is separate from The Star’s newsroom. Members of The Star editorial board are: Star publisher Tony Berg, Colleen McCain Nelson, Derek Donovan, Dave Helling, Melinda Henneberger, Toriano Porter and Michael Ryan. Read more by clicking the arrow in the upper right.
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Bunch’s advocacy for alternative transportation has been impressive. At the same time, Kansas Citians will want to make sure his transit goals are reasonable and achievable if he’s elected to the City Council.
But Bunch is not a one-issue candidate, and he has thoughtful ideas on affordable housing and community health. His experience in other cities will bring a different perspective to City Hall, which needs it.
The other 4th District candidate, Geoff Jolley, is well known in Kansas City. He has served as a firefighter and an aide to U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and says that experience would serve him well on the council.
But the next mayor and council will have to grapple with several problems involving the fire service, including excessive overtime, pension costs and stubborn discrimination in some fire houses. It’s not clear that Jolley would bring needed independence to difficult discussions involving the Kansas City Fire Department.
Both candidates showed a solid understanding of the issues, but Bunch revealed a stronger command of the details. Bunch’s fresh approach and new ideas would be a welcome addition to the City Council.
The Star is partnering with the nonprofit Verify More on candidate background checks, and you can see the results of the screening process at verifymore.org.