The Star endorses incumbent Dan Fowler for 2nd District Kansas City Council seat

The Star endorses incumbent Dan Fowler for the 2nd District Kansas City Council seat over his appealing but less qualified challenger, sales manager Kevin McEvoy.

In a joint interview with the two candidates, McEvoy said he’s running because “I didn’t see anyone who I thought represented me” on the City Council. “I didn’t see a true conservative with a manufacturing background ... rebalancing how the city prioritizes its budget items” and looking for ways to pare down the number and kind of issues city government takes up in the first place.

Fowler bristled at that: “I don’t know that anybody’s called me ‘liberal’ lately. I don’t like those labels. When you’re talking city government, they’re very misleading.”

Fowler makes an important point about what is and should be a nonpartisan race.

McEvoy agreed with Fowler that “we all want to fix potholes,” but said the city should never get involved in something like expanding pre-K, as Mayor Sly James wanted to do, since “that’s not a city problem. That’s a school problem.”

He thinks we’ve been “sold a bill of goods on the airport” terminal that’s under construction. And he voted against part of the bond package that is funding needed infrastructure repairs across the city. In retrospect, McEvoy says, the bond measures probably were necessary, but he doesn’t regret the vote because it would have violated his values.

“It’s not about which roads get paved; for me, it’s about the personal values, how you’re coming at it,” he said.

The problem with that is that serving on the City Council is about which roads get paved. So, what if McEvoy had been on the council when the bond package came up for approval? “If someone can convince me that was a necessary thing, and I think in retrospect it actually is, but I just have a hard time voting for taxes.”

Fowler, who does seem to enjoy providing constituent services, said the thing he finds most satisfying in his work on the council is being able to make a phone call and get action for a Kansas Citian who needs help in some way. “It’s different from having a law practice. Civil litigation is going to take forever, but you can have immediate impact” in local government.

His accomplishments in office, he says, include successfully fighting for improvements funded by the infrastructure bond measures and bringing the CVS Distribution Center and Costco to the Northland.

“If re-elected,” he wrote, “I would push to keep more Northland tax dollars in the Northland. I also would work with economic development partners to grow the KCI Corridor, which would generate strong tax revenues for the city and attract high-paying jobs. And I would help ensure the new airport terminal is built on time and on budget.”

While McEvoy is a credible challenger who has offered a different perspective in this race, Fowler’s experience and his steady focus on serving his Northland constituents should earn him another term in office when voters go to the polls Tuesday.

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