Even the negative political ads have been rather tame in Kansas City’s mostly listless mayoral and City Council races.
That’s one positive to take away from the recent months of campaigning, leading up to Tuesday’s elections.
Mayor Sly James has gone the extra mile, putting up billboards urging people to vote. Last week he noted that he had more followers on Twitter (40,000-plus) than the puny number of votes cast in the April primaries (33,000-plus).
Of course, James is at the center of low turnout expectations on Tuesday. He easily won his primary and hasn’t deigned to debate his little-known opponent, Vincent Lee, since then. Many Kansas Citians aren’t paying attention to what passes for a mayoral race and they don’t seem that excited about most council races either.
As noted, even the nasty attack ads that often flood mailboxes or show up on TV screens have been largely absent, though a few deserve attention.
In one flier, Jay Hodges, candidate for the 2nd District at-large seat, took far too much credit when boasting that he had “helped reduce crime” as a senior adviser on public safety for James. Hodges also took a mean-spirited shot at opponent Teresa Loar for a council pay raise she approved way back in 1999.
A political action committee tried to smear Dick Davis, the incumbent in the 1st District contest, for missing some votes in office. The facts show Davis — during a solid first term at City Hall — was at the great majority of council meetings, casting thousands of votes, which makes his attendance a non-issue in his race against Heather Hall.
On the flip side of advertising, Jolie Justus — in her race against John Fierro for the 4th District seat — sent out an envelope that contained a package of Forget Me Not seeds. The printed advice: vote for Justus in a race she’s likely to win.
Tuesday’s elections will be crucial to forging a better future for Kansas City, no matter the voter turnout.
James hopes to get a good team that will help him make key decisions on how to improve the West Bottoms, Kansas City International Airport, downtown and the East Side.
Council members also will get surprises dumped in their laps, such as the new minimum-wage debate.
Despite apparently widespread apathy, voters on Tuesday need to rally themselves to send the best-qualified candidates to City Hall.