Melinda Henneberger

Not sure whom to vote for as KC mayor? Read their profiles ahead of the primary

Here are some of the comments that stood out to me while I was working on biographical pieces about the 11 mayoral candidates:

Alissia Canady on violent crime: “We can’t talk about African-American men only in the context of homicide,” without also talking about equity and economic opportunity. “When 40 percent of the men in 64130 are ex-offenders — 40 percent! — what kind of opportunities are available to them? You have to bring the issue holistically together, because it all bleeds together, literally. Frederick Douglass had the answer to this, and he died in 1895. He says it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. We have broken men that are modeling broken behavior to broken children, and until we begin to deal with that, with a program designed on purpose to restore them,” not much will change.

Read the full profile here.

Clay Chastain on what keeps him running: “That anger is not far below the surface. That’s what fuels me.”

Read the full profile here.

Phil Glynn on La Famiglia: “Church was a big part of everything, and partying. A big part of what my parents talked about was gratitude and how emotionally and financially hard their parents’ lives had been. It was a huge family, and they all loved each other,” with cousins doubling as best friends and “old ladies smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey telling the old legends. Everyone had a zest for life.”

Read the full profile here.

Jolie Justus on steering clear of controversy: “What a lot of folks don’t understand is it’s better to not say anything at all if you want to get something accomplished. I’ve had people call or tweet or text and say, ‘Why aren’t you speaking up about this?’ Because it’s getting ready to pass and if I say something, it just delays the vote.”

Read the full profile here.

What that Henry Klein campaign sign that says “Fighting for lost causes” refers to: “You think I’m licked,” Jimmy Stewart’s character cries in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” “You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked. And I’m going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause.”

Read the full profile here.

Vincent Lee on who’s to blame: Kansas City is “under massive attack” from immigrants “taking your resources away from you” and “coming here to rape and rob your tax coffers ... I’m going to deal with the illegals like I deal with everything else. Like it or not, that’s the kind of person I am.”

Read the full profile here.

Treina Griffin on her younger brother, Quinton Lucas: “He’s always been 30. He’s been called ‘The Professor’ since he was 10 years old. I went to Metro Tech. I’d take him to games with me, and people were like, ‘What’s wrong with your little brother? Why does he talk like that?’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t know. He’s always been like that.’ ’’

Read the full profile here.

Steve Miller on Sly James: “He’s going to be a difficult act for anyone to follow, but I think he’s also struggled at times,” for instance over building a new single terminal at KCI. “With a little bit more leadership, that could have been a moment of more unity and celebration.”

Read the full profile here.

Jermaine Reed on the kind of mayor he’d be: “I’m not the smartest guy in the room,” and he doesn’t feel he needs to be, since “the mayor’s role is to be a convener, and I’ve been doing that all my life. I want to be the cheerleader.”

Read the full profile here.

Cathy Jolley on her husband Scott Taylor, who doesn’t love talking about himself: “He’s not flashy, with a fancy tie and a speech off the top of his head, but he’s the last man standing until the job is done.”

Read the full profile here.

Scott Wagner on why he opposes incentive caps for development projects: “You can set levels wherever you want, but what it boils down to is how you negotiate the deals.” In this town, there’s not enough distinction drawn between “whether you like the project and whether you like the deal.” Instead, the feeling is that if you say no, “then you don’t like Kansas City.”

Read the full profile here.

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Melinda Henneberger is a columnist and member of The Star’s editorial board. She has covered crime, local and state government, hospitals, social services, prisons and national politics. For 10 years, she was a reporter for The New York Times in New York, Washington, D.C. and Rome. In 2019, she was a Pulitzer finalist for commentary and received the Mike Royko Award for Commentary and Column Writing from the News Leaders Association.
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