Quinton Lucas wins big in Kansas City mayor’s race. Now, he must prove skeptics wrong

If you’re reading this, it means that you made the right choice, Kansas City, and elected Quinton Lucas as your next mayor.

That’s the right choice because Lucas has everything it takes to be not just a good mayor, but an exceptional one. He knows what to do, where to start and why he wanted the job in the first place.

“I’m running,” he said in an interview, “for the child version of me,” who at one point was homeless and couch-surfing in a great aunt’s room in a nursing home while attending The Barstow School. There are many child versions of Quinton Lucas out there, in every neighborhood, and the entire city needs them to succeed.

Even so, progress on equity, affordable housing and violent crime is far from assured. Having the will and the skill to push for change is only the beginning. And compared to the work ahead, winning this election over 10 other contenders was nothing but a warm-up.

Much of the criticism leveled at Lucas in recent months was campaign-season folderol, including the assertion that he “can’t be trusted,” mostly because he changed his mind on an airport vote.

Untrustworthy” is the wrong word, implying as it does that he’s shady instead of the less nefarious reality that like many a politician, and not a few non-pols, he sometimes leaves people with the misimpression that he agrees with them.

Still, we hope Lucas has learned from the element of truth behind those jabs because Kansas City does need a mayor whose actions are as bold as Lucas’ rhetoric has been.

Kansas City desperately needs a leader who can and will stand up to considerable pressure from the protectors of the status quo who generally preferred his opponent in the runoff, Jolie Justus, but hedged their bets as the race tightened.

His record of pushing for both affordable housing and incentive reform on the City Council has made us optimistic that he will follow through, but the pressure from those who want nothing to change shouldn’t be underestimated.

Lucas has a real chance to be that leader, which is why The Star Editorial Board endorsed him. After a hard-fought race, Tuesday’s election wasn’t even close. Lucas won big, but he still is going to have to prove those who think him malleable wrong.

“If you’re compromising,” he asked recently, “are you selling out?” In general, no. Tone matters, and evolving in response to new information can be a sign of strength rather than weakness.

But on core commitments to today’s 10-year-old Quintons, there really can be no middle ground. Because as now Mayor-elect Lucas knows better than anybody, they don’t have a square inch to spare.

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