Guest Commentary

Everyone in Kansas City deserves a neighborhood mayor

Jolie Justus
Jolie Justus Submitted photo

Is there any city in America that’s hotter than Kansas City right now?

We’re putting shovels in the ground at the new single terminal for Kansas City International Airport. Our streetcar is a model for other cities. We’re at the epicenter of March Madness. Everywhere you look, the sky is full of cranes that are reshaping our city.

It’s an exciting time to be us — and we are just getting started.

Over the last eight weeks I have walked the length of Kansas City. We’ve covered over 46 miles. And while we’re not done yet, I can tell you firsthand that we have a long way to go before the Kansas City success story is felt in every neighborhood.

We need to generate the same kind of excitement and enthusiasm for fixing sidewalks, repairing streets, making communities safer and boosting our schools and students. That’s why I’m running to be Kansas City’s neighborhood mayor.

Whether leading the pro bono practice at my law firm, serving on the board of my neighborhood association, representing Kansas City in the state Senate or serving on the City Council, I’ve always gotten things done through collaboration — not agitation.

As the next mayor, I would take that same approach to make sure everyone is sharing in our success. In order to do that, I’ve developed my Neighborhoods First Agenda, which makes sure we’re not forgetting the communities that form the backbone of our city when we plan for the future.

The Neighborhoods First Agenda includes:

▪  Cutting violent crime. Violent crime has taken a toll on our community that is unacceptable. As a councilmember and state senator, I have worked tirelessly on issues of criminal justice reform and domestic violence prevention. As mayor, I’ll continue to implement policies that address the systemic issues that lead to violence. I’ll also work with local and state leaders to pass commonsense gun laws and invest in programs that are not just tough on crime, but smart on crime.

▪  Creating stronger neighborhoods. We can build stronger neighborhoods by rehabilitating abandoned buildings, repairing streets and sidewalks, targeting underserved areas for economic development and creating more affordable housing options so that every Kansas Citian has a place to live and will not be forced out by higher rents and property taxes.

▪  Growing local jobs. Instead of chasing Amazon, let’s make it easier to start new businesses and grow existing companies right here in Kansas City. Let’s eliminate barriers, reduce red tape and improve efficiencies so that we can create local jobs in the neighborhoods where people live.

▪  Supporting schools, students and workforce. I want to invest more in our young people. That’s why I support the ballot measure to increase the number of high-quality pre-kindergarten seats in Kansas City and provide low-income families with tuition support. I’d also like us to use city resources to improve our schools and prepare students for both college and jobs through vocational programs and real-world experience.

▪  Establishing an equitable transportation policy. Equitable investments in transportation can improve the economic and health outcomes of every neighborhood in our city. It is time for Kansas City to create a local Department of Transportation to ensure equity and access to opportunity for all our residents.

I love Kansas City and I’ve committed my entire career to helping the people who live here do more and find more opportunities to succeed.

As your neighborhood mayor, my pledge to you is that you will always come first.

Jolie Justus is an attorney and a member of the Kansas City Council. This is one of a series of columns by candidates for Kansas City mayor.