Camera crews with reporters from three Kansas City area television stations showed up Thursday night for a Kansas City, Kan., candidates forum despite the rush hour snowfall that snarled traffic and caused wrecks throughout the metro area.
The weather took a back seat to the possibility of TV news crews filming Tamika Pledger, who was supposed to be one of seven candidates answering questions about why she was running for the District 1 at-large Wyandotte County Unified Board of Commissioners seat. Mark Holland had held it until he was elected mayor last April.
Pledger, 38, had told forum organizer, Elnora Jefferson, that she planned to show up Thursday night.
Five of the other candidates were at the two-hour program as well as 20 to 30 persons in the audience at 10th Street and Nebraska Avenue. The TV trucks and camera crews out front may have caused Pledger to change her mind.
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Why was she the person of interest?
Pledger faces an involuntary manslaughter charge in Wyandotte County in the death of Tierra Smith, 17, a Raytown High School student, and three counts of reckless aggravated battery in a Jan. 30 vehicular crash, involving four teenage pedestrians in the 1300 block of Troup Avenue in Kansas City, Kan. Smith died a week after the wreck. The crash occurred as a Mercedes-Benz crested a hill and slammed into the teens. Pledger has been free on bond.
The candidates who did show up were Nathan Barnes, Janice Witt, LaVert Murray, Melissa Bynum and Christal Watson. But they rated little TV attention as they explained why they wanted to be elected to the seat, which has been vacant since last spring. The Unified board last summer was split in trying to pick either Barnes or Don Budd for the position.
The candidates’ names will be on the March 3 ballot. The two top vote-getters will run in the April 7 election for the seat. The Historic Northeast Midtown Association sponsored the forum, and at the group’s request, I moderated the program.