Yael T. Abouhalkah

Here are 12 top takeaways from Kansas City’s elections

Don’t blame Grace Goldman of Kansas City for Tuesday’s low voter turnout. She helped promote voting along Ward Parkway in the morning.
Don’t blame Grace Goldman of Kansas City for Tuesday’s low voter turnout. She helped promote voting along Ward Parkway in the morning. The Kansas City Star

With their votes Tuesday, Kansas Citians decided that the next City Council will feature more women and more black members.

Sure, not many people showed up at the polls. But the politicians selected to lead the area’s largest local government will take over on Aug. 1, facing lots of important decisions.

Here are 12 quick takeaways from the elections.

▪ Sly James easily won his second term as mayor, and deservedly so. However, he did not succeed in getting Kansas Citians excited about the elections. Which means....

▪ Lots of initiative petitions could be around the corner. Petitioners will need signatures from registered voters equaling only 5 percent of the number of people who voted for mayor. That number is approximately 34,100, meaning 5 percent is only 1,705. That’s far from the 3,600 or so signatures that have been needed over the last four years to place several petitions on the ballot.

▪ Turnout was pathetic: Only 13 percent in the part of Kansas City that’s in Jackson County and only 8 percent each in the city inside Clay and Platte counties.

▪ Give it up for veteran politico Katheryn Shields, who beat incumbent Jim Glover by only 110 votes to win the 4th District, at-large seat. Shields completed a great political comeback.

▪ The biggest improvement in quality of representation on the council will come in the 3rd District, at-large, where smart and savvy Quinton Lucas replaces Melba Curls.

▪ The biggest drop-off in quality of representation will be in the 1st District, in-district, where neophyte Heather Hall replaces veteran good-government incumbent Dick Davis.

▪ There are four women on the current council. There will be five on the next council: Heather Hall, Teresa Loar, Jolie Justus, Katheryn Shields and Alissia Canady. Loar and Shields are returning to the council after years away from it.

▪ There are four blacks on the current council (including James). There will be five on the next council: James, Jermaine Reed, Quinton Lucas, Alissia Canady and Lee Barnes Jr. The last three are newcomers to the council.

▪ Teresa Loar won big in the 2nd District, at-large, as opponent Jay Hodges got no traction from his attempt to portray himself as James’ partner in crimefighting. (Hodges was a former aide to James.)

▪ No, Freedom Inc., the black political club, did not succeed in getting Ken Bacchus back onto the council. Fortunately, newcomer Alissia Canady narrowly won the 5th District, in-district seat.

▪ Freedom also couldn’t get rid of Housing Court Judge Todd D. Wilcher. Voters easily retained him.

▪ Mayor James lost a few allies on Tuesday. Dick Davis was one; Heather Hall’s conservative roots will not make her a favorite go-to person for the mayor. And with the loss of Glover, it will be interesting to see how Katheryn Shields and the mayor get along, as she returns to where it all started for her back in 1987, as a City Council member.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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