The Star endorses Edward Bell for the 5th District Kansas City Council seat

In the race to represent the 5th District on the Kansas City Council, both Edward Bell II and Ryana Parks-Shaw have run grassroots campaigns focused on improving workforce and economic development, basic city services, public safety and community involvement at City Hall.

Both are impressive and well-qualified candidates. And to their credit, they have run respectful, positive campaigns to succeed Alissia Canady on the City Council.

Voters will make a tough but consequential choice in this race Tuesday. The Star endorses Bell, whose four-year tenure on the Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) has better prepared him to represent the city’s 5th District.

Bell is a business consultant and substitute teacher with firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of city government. He can point to concrete examples of doing hard, behind-the-scenes work that benefits the community, and he offers original and thoughtful ideas for tackling issues that have long bedeviled distressed neighborhoods.

During his tenure on PIAC, Bell helped free up more funding for neighborhood projects when he pushed to change the way improvements to Starlight Theatre were funded. On PIAC, he also successfully pushed through the expansion of the Kansas City Community Gardens, a low-cost resource center to help gardeners provide food for low-income families.

Bell has in-depth knowledge of 5th District issues, is an independent thinker and has demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively with other leaders.

“I’m not beholden to anyone but my community,” he said.


Who decides the endorsements?

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.

What does the endorsement process entail?

The Star editorial board meets with political candidates. The interviews are largely focused on public policy, and each lasts about an hour. Board members do additional reporting and research to learn as much as possible about the candidates. The editorial board then convenes to discuss the candidates in each race. Board members seek to reach a consensus on the endorsements, but not every decision is unanimous.

Is the editorial board partisan?

No. In making endorsements, members of the editorial board consider which candidates are well prepared to represent their constituents — not whether they agree with us or belong to a particular political party. We evaluate candidates’ relevant experience, their readiness for office, their depth of knowledge of key issues and their understanding of public policy. We’re seeking candidates who are thoughtful and who offer more than just party-line talking points. The editorial board will endorse both Republicans and Democrats. We make recommendations about who the best-qualified candidates for these jobs are.

Why are endorsements unsigned?

Endorsements reflect the collective views of The Star’s editorial board — not just the opinion of one writer. Board members all discuss and contribute ideas to each endorsement editorial.

Fellow PIAC committee members have said Bell is an effective communicator who, as a lifelong resident of the 5th District, has a unique understanding of the community’s needs.

“Who knows the nuances of the 5th District better?” Bell said.

But if elected, Bell must be more consistently present to be an effective council member. He missed two out of the last five PIAC committee meetings, according to city records. A 60% attendance rate won’t cut it at City Hall.

“I always sent correspondence as to why I would be absent from a meeting ... as well as maintaining contact with my PIAC counterpart (Ruth Turner),” Bell said.

Parks-Shaw’s resume is impressive as well. She is a small business owner, and she has worked as a hospital executive for 25 years. She is currently the director of health care partnerships at Hospice Partners of America.

Parks-Shaw has been an effective campaigner, pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and interacting with residents.

While Parks-Shaw has collected a long list of endorsements, Bell has done the legwork and has demonstrated a deeper understanding of city government. He deserves voters’ support in Tuesday’s election.

The Star is partnering with the nonprofit Verify More on candidate background checks, and you can see the results of that screening process at verifymore.org.