Editorials

The Star’s endorsements for KC mayor, City Council and Question 1 in Tuesday’s election

Mayoral candidate Quinton Lucas casts his vote on election day

Kansas City mayoral candidate Quinton Lucas casts his vote on election day, Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
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Kansas City mayoral candidate Quinton Lucas casts his vote on election day, Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

At the polls on Tuesday, Kansas City voters will make consequential decisions that will help chart the city’s course for the next few years. They will elect a new mayor and City Council, and they will approve or reject a proposal for capping economic development incentives.

Here are The Star Editorial Board’s recommendations for Kansas City elections:

Mayor: Quinton Lucas. He is direct, offers a clear vision for serious problems and has a life story that helps him understand the issues in all parts of the community. He’s the candidate to lead Kansas City in the next decade.

Were this a status quo election, Jolie Justus might have been the preferred candidate in this race. But Kansas City’s challenges require a more aggressive change agenda, and Lucas will provide that.

1st District at-large candidate Kevin O’Neill is unopposed, as is 2nd District at-large candidate Teresa Loar. Both have demonstrated an impressive understanding of city issues, and both deserve voters’ support.

3rd District at-large: Rev. Wallace Hartsfield II. He has a record of accomplishment and would be an influential, calming presence on the City Council. “I like to be quick to hear and slow to speak,” Hartsfield told The Star’s Editorial Board.

Hartsfield’s opponent, Brandon Ellington, has served the community as a legislator in Jefferson City. We applaud that service, but Hartsfield is the better choice.

4th District at-large: Katheryn Shields. The incumbent and political veteran has been a strong advocate for transparency and fact-based decision-making at City Hall. She is an important voice urging attention to infrastructure repairs and basic services.

Opponent Robert Westfall is someone to watch, but Shields’ experience and focus make her the superior choice.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

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.

5th District at-large: Lee Barnes Jr. The incumbent has worked on incentive reform in Kansas City and should take a leadership role in affordable housing debates on the new City Council.

His opponent, Dwayne Williams, has done valuable work on development efforts in the central city, but he lacks Barnes’ experience.

6th District at-large: Andrea Bough. Her resume is impressive, and she has promised to focus on important issues such as trash and snow removal. Bough is the preferred choice over opponent Stacey Johnson-Cosby, whose negative campaign suggests she lacks the temperament to serve at City Hall.

1st District: Incumbent Heather Hall is unopposed. She declined to meet with The Star Editorial Board.

2nd District: Dan Fowler, the incumbent, is the choice for 2nd District voters. His experience and steady focus on serving the Northland have earned him a second term.

Opponent Kevin McEvoy has run a credible campaign, but some of his positions appear out of sync with the district. He opposed parts of the ‘GO’ bond package, for example, and questioned the need for a new airport terminal.

3rd District: Melissa Robinson. Her relevant experience and collaborative style would allow her to make an immediate impact at City Hall and drive progress in the 3rd District.

Opponent Joey Thomas, who goes by the nickname of “Joey Cuts,” has energy and a good understanding of the needs in the poorest parts of Kansas City, but Robinson is better prepared to serve on the council.

4th District: Eric Bunch. He has a keen understanding of transportation issues in Kansas City, experience that will be important as the city tackles the competing needs of drivers, pedestrians and commuters. He also offers thoughtful ideas on affordable housing and community health.

Opponent Geoff Jolley has a laudable record of service, but his work as a firefighter could make it harder for him to fix the department’s overtime issues.

5th District: Edward Bell II. He is a business consultant and substitute teacher with firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of city government. He offers original, carefully considered ideas for tackling issues that have long bedeviled distressed neighborhoods.

Ryana Parks-Shaw has been an effective campaigner, knocking on doors and interacting with residents. It’s a close call, but Bell is the better option.

6th District incumbent Kevin McManus is unopposed. He’s shown a good mastery of issues in the south part of Kansas City and has earned re-election.

Question 1: No. This proposal would cap some economical development incentives at 50%. We support the goal and believe incentive reform is a key issue facing the new mayor and council.

But Question 1 is poorly worded and too broad. It could also have the unintended consequence of discouraging developers from pursuing projects in distressed neighborhoods.

Voters should reject the plan and then pressure the city’s leadership to enact comprehensive reform.

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