Guest Commentary

Restore Kansas City’s foundation with fresh leadership

Phil Glynn, candidate for Kansas City mayor
Phil Glynn, candidate for Kansas City mayor

When I was in high school, I spent summers working for my uncle at Raymond Marsee & Son Foundation Repair. We could patch cracks, fix leaks or even put a house up on jacks and rebuild every wall. On the exterior, all the houses we worked on looked great, with fresh paint and immaculate landscaping. But their foundations were crumbling.

As a small business owner and a parent of three kids, I think often about the future of our city. This is our home. When we look at the exterior, we feel a sense of momentum and pride. But when we examine what’s beneath the surface, we all see the cracks growing.

It’s time to rebuild our foundation.

Kansas Citians are frustrated because they don’t believe their voices are heard at City Hall, but I hear them loud and clear. City residents want leadership that is transparent and accountable to the taxpayers — leadership that will make sure the foundation of their neighborhood is not being neglected. They want to feel the momentum in every neighborhood across Kansas City.

It’s time to invest in neighborhoods. When city leadership can’t fill the potholes, they damage our cars. When sewer line repairs are neglected, sludge floods our basements. When trash is not picked up, it litters our streets.

Our leadership has focused on investing in buildings in one small part of the city. Meanwhile, working families and senior citizens across Kansas City aren’t able to find quality affordable housing. When senior citizens are forced to move out of the neighborhoods where they have lived for decades, it is a loss for the whole community.

I’ll bring my experience of leading teams that build and finance affordable housing for working families and senior citizens, infrastructure projects, grocery stores, hospitals and child care centers from the private sector to City Hall.

It’s time to invest in people. For decades, we’ve watched tax incentives get rubber-stamped while the development of our workforce is neglected. Economic development isn’t only about buildings; it’s also about those who live here.

Kansas City needs a leader who will invest in skills training, which will bring opportunity to both workers and employers. Public transportation needs to be expanded to get people to their places of employment no matter where they live. By investing in workforce development and transit, we will build our local economy so everyone can succeed.

It’s time to ensure safety in every Kansas City neighborhood. Too many of us live in fear of being the victim of a crime. The number of homicides has spiked in the past three years. The city’s response to this unacceptable level of crime has been forming commissions and writing reports. What’s been missing? Concrete action. I will work immediately with the police department to put more police officers on the streets, not only to patrol, but also to build relationships with the people who live in the neighborhoods they are serving. I will support the inclusion of social workers in the police department and fight for resources to increase their numbers.

Shortages of affordable housing and public transportation, along with the neglect of basic city services, destabilize families and neighborhoods. To reduce crime in the long term, we must address these issues so we can build and strengthen our neighborhoods. We can never forget that the violence in our community and the failure of our economy are fundamentally linked. We cannot have a safe community without an economically just city.

While politicians celebrate what’s on the surface, community leaders and everyday Kansas Citians are calling for real action to rebuild our foundation. If you feel your voice hasn’t been heard, if you feel your neighborhood has been ignored, you can do something about it by voting for a fresh voice and fresh leadership at City Hall.

Phil Glynn is president of Travois, a business that finances and supports housing and economic development projects in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. This is one in a series of columns by candidates for Kansas City mayor.