Editorials

Guns, housing and incentives in KC Mayor Quinton Lucas’ ambitious first 100 days

Mayor Quinton Lucas had a tragic first week in office; there was at least one and sometimes more than one shooting homicide in Kansas City every day for those first eight days.

Yet his commitment and creativity in addressing gun violence have still been the most notable accomplishment of his first 100 days as our new mayor, as he’s put forward ordinances designed to keep guns out of the hands of minors and take them away from domestic abusers.

National Rifle Association logic says that any law that wouldn’t end all shooting deaths isn’t worth passing. And since there isn’t any such legislation, that works out well for them, doesn’t it? Not so well for those at either end of the gun, though.

Lucas logic is just the opposite: It says that even improvements at the margins are worth the effort.

As one of his mayoral rivals, former City Council member Alissia Canady, sees it, “He has found things he could do instead of just saying, ‘Jeff City, Jeff City.’ There’s a whole lot more that needs to happen, but we spent four years being told we couldn’t do anything,” under previous mayor Sly James, and Lucas has already proven that’s not the case.

In a recent interview with The Star Editorial Board, Lucas said he’s still determined to get the number of homicides in Kansas City under 100 next year. “What we’ve said for 20-plus years … is no, it’s a really big problem, other people need to solve it. … I’m the mayor. I can’t just tell people yeah, wait 30 years and maybe it will be fixed. … Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a rookie or a slightly younger man, but I continue to believe we can’t just shake our head and say this is how life is in Kansas City, Missouri.”

There have been 127 homicides in Kansas City already this year, so getting that number under 100 would be quite a feat, but good for him for asking to be held to that standard.

He also wants to be judged on the number of guns taken away from domestic abusers, and we’ll take him up on that, too.

He’s still saying the right things on incentives, and has appointed some good people to the Tax Increment Financing Commission, but we should not be subsidizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture office, the Strata office tower or a Waddell & Reed high rise, either.

If James were still mayor, every one of these would already have gotten its exemption or abatement by now, so Lucas’ skepticism is definitely an improvement, but let’s see what happens when the votes on subsidizing these projects are actually counted.

On the tenant bill of rights that Lucas promised to support, he’s done that — too tepidly for renters and too enthusiastically for landlords.

But it’s hard to imagine he’ll get a majority of his colleagues to go along with the provision on background checks without some compromise. Just as one eviction shouldn’t keep a renter from finding affordable housing, owners have to have the right to turn away those who chronically fail to pay.

Overall, under difficult circumstances, our new mayor is off to an agile running start.

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