Guest Commentary

A track record of experience and sound decisions for Kansas City

Kansas City Council member and mayoral candidate Scott Taylor
Kansas City Council member and mayoral candidate Scott Taylor

Among the candidates for mayor of Kansas City, what sets me apart most are my good judgment and my hands-on leadership abilities.

After graduating from the University of Kansas with a political science degree, I went to Rockhurst University for an MBA and the University of Missouri-Kansas City for a law degree. I have practiced law for over 20 years, working with companies that manufacture products in the United States. I have had the unique experience of walking the production line at dozens of manufacturing plants, where I’ve spoken with front-line workers as well as CEOs. I’ve learned that it’s critical to determine what actions are needed to protect jobs in this country, and there is never room for error.

When I was first elected to the City Council in 2011 in the wake of the Great Recession, the common wisdom was that Kansas City was not inviting to small businesses. I took the initiative and pitched to Mayor Sly James the idea to create a new council committee to address issues that hinder those companies. Under my leadership as the new committee’s chair, we held public hearings and secured dozens of changes proposed by small businesses. I oversaw the implementation of those ideas, including creating a micro-loan program that has been nationally recognized. We have now one of the best economies in the country for small companies, including those run by women and minorities.

Nowhere has my good judgment been on display more than during the process to select a firm to design and build a new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport. I have been critical of the airport committee’s back-room meetings away from the public’s eye from the beginning. I maintain that the right decision would have been to pick the local, hometown team of Burns & McDonnell, as I voted to do. They assembled a local team of small contractors and they have a successful track record of achieving goals working with woman- and minority-owned partners.

The project is now riddled with issues that have yet to be resolved with its out-of-state developer. It is now delayed by more than a year and will cost much more than initially estimated. Several council members on the committee who made this choice — Alissia Canady, Jolie Justus, Quinton Lucas and Jermaine Reed — are also running for mayor. Their process was sloppy, and better judgment should have prevailed.

In stark contrast to the airport process, I took the lead on the critical decision of what to do with the crumbling Kemper Arena. After numerous public hearings and hours of testimony, my committee was presented with options of tearing down the building or repurposing it. After deciding reuse was the wisest move, we picked a local developer to retrofit and preserve the historical architecture of the building.

The local developers brought $39 million of their own resources to repurpose the arena into a youth sports village under one roof. It boasts two floors of courts, a suspended indoor running track, retail and restaurants. Opening weekend was completely sold out, with the courts hosting the nation’s largest pickleball tournament. A job of this magnitude required hands-on leadership. I visited the construction regularly, working with the developer to make sure everything ran smoothly. The result is that it opened on time and on budget. Unlike the airport, it was not a daily drama in the newspaper. Moreover, the newly rechristened Hy-Vee Arena is leading the revitalization of the historic West Bottoms.

Keeping up the momentum for Kansas City requires good, consistent judgment and hands-on leadership. I have helped lead our city forward with those qualities.

Scott Taylor represents the 6th District at large on the Kansas City Council. This is one of a series of columns by candidates for Kansas City mayor.