When I was a young boy of about 8, I had my first brush with politics. My parents took me on a “Walk with Truman.” It was a program by the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum where you got to walk through Independence at some of the places that President Harry Truman had frequented during his life.
As a neighborhood president and a City Council member representing the Northland, there are many attributes I first learned from Truman’s story that I’ve always tried to reflect in public life. Not the least of those lessons is that you have to be prepared to make hard decisions, sometimes in the face of strong opposition.
Equally as important were the ideas of hard work and common sense that my parents instilled in me. I’d like to think the way I carry myself today infuses both their work ethic and level-headedness, as well as our local icon’s courage to make the right decisions.
For the last eight years, I have worked hard and used common sense to bring a neighborhood perspective to the City Council. This has resulted in a citywide sidewalk program (now in its second year), scrap metal ordinances, new laws governing LLCs, and the Healthy Homes inspection program that protects those living in substandard conditions, among other initiatives. I’ve found ways to improve infrastructure in the Northland, bringing over $100 million in state, federal and local funds to the area I represent.
But there is more to do.
As we talk about the success of the last eight years, there are still those who have been left behind. We have to bring them together with work training programs and the employers who are filling positions. It’s not about creating new programs, but rather allowing the mayor to be a hub to bring those programs, people and opportunities together.
Our violent crime rate needs sustained attention. In 2014, we saw the lowest homicide number since the early 1970s — and then it rose again. I understand that there are long-term issues that need to be addressed, but you will never get to them if you don’t do something now.
What do we do? We make sure we have enough uniformed officers on the street to respond to calls and to do investigations. We invest in preventative programs that interact with people before that violence proliferates, and we make sure that there is no revolving door so that people who should not be in your neighborhood aren’t returned the day after they are arrested. Members of a community can’t take control of their neighborhoods if we don’t back them up.
If we are to be the home of entrepreneurs, we need to make sure they grow here by making it easier to form, finance, house and grow those small businesses that we hope will be the next Cerner, Pinterest or Twitch. Why? Because a network of strong businesses is what draws more businesses here, helps us create, keep and draw talent, and ultimately keeps that wealth here. It improves our tax base to strengthen our city services and make our neighborhoods stronger in the process.
I have been proud to help lead this city for the last eight years, with the last four as mayor pro tem and chair of the Finance Committee with responsibility over our budget. It has allowed me the opportunity to work on behalf of our city and its neighborhoods.
I want to be your mayor because I see what we can be and I know how to do it — and not just because I understand how. I will work diligently, use common sense and make the hard decisions that are necessary.
Scott Wagner represents Kansas City’s 1st District at-large on the City Council. This is one in a series of columns by candidates for Kansas City mayor.