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Kevin McManus, the 6th District Kansas City Council member who also serves as mayor pro tem, is stepping down this year after two council terms. Five candidates are running to replace him as the representative for the district that covers the southwest reaches of the Kansas City, including parts of the Red Bridge neighborhood, Waldo, Brookside and the Plaza.
Other former portions of the 6th District, including some east of Interstate 49, are now part of the 5th District as a result of new boundaries that the City Council approved in 2021.
The Kansas City Council primary election is set for April 4, and five candidates will be running to represent the 6th District.
The Beacon sent a three-part questionnaire to all five candidates. It includes three personal questions, five lightning-round yes-or-no questions and five short-answer policy questions. Some responses have been lightly edited for length or clarity.
Click on a link to jump to a question:
- Meet the city council candidates.
- Lightening-round questions.
- How would you increase affordable housing in Kansas City?
- How should the city collaborate with a police department that cannot be held accountable to city regulation?
- What deciding factors would convince you to ask city taxpayers to subsidize a downtown stadium for the Royals?
- Is Kansas City taking the issue of missing Black women seriously enough? What can city government do to address this?
- If elected, what issues will you make your own?
Meet the District 6 city council candidates:
Carter is the former executive director of public pension trust funds for cities and public school districts.
Favorite Kansas City fountain: Meyer Circle Fountain
Favorite ice cream shop: I do not have one.
Tarwater retired from the Jackson County Legislature after 28 years. He now works in the insurance industry.
Favorite Kansas City fountain: The fountain in Mill Creek Park; my wife and I got engaged there 32 years ago.
Favorite Kansas City ice cream shop: Betty Rae’s
Duncan is director of administrative operations at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Headquarters.
Favorite Kansas City fountain: The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden fountain. RIP to the garden cat, Krazy.
Favorite Kansas City ice cream shop: Betty Rae’s ice cream in Waldo is my favorite, but High Hopes on Troost is next on my list.
Schuckman is a senior analyst for the Kansas City Water Services Department. Previously he worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and before that, the city of Lenexa.
Favorite Kansas City fountain: I think my favorite one is the Muse of Missouri fountain in downtown on Main Street.
Favorite Kansas City ice cream shop: Easy, Betty Rae’s in Waldo.
Moore has worked as a project and construction manager focused on the planning, design and construction of public infrastructure and buildings for 30 years. Currently, she is a substitute teacher in a public district.
Favorite Kansas City fountain: Armour Center
Favorite Kansas City ice cream shop: Betty Rae’s in Waldo
Lightning round questions:
Candidates were asked for a yes-or-no position in response to these five questions:
- Do you support a 3% tax on marijuana sales?
- Should Kansas City be granted local control of its police department?
- Should third-party “but-for” financial analysis be required to receive tax incentives in KC?
- Should access to information for the news media be restricted by the city manager’s office?
- Do you believe that $1,200 per month for rent is affordable?
How would you increase affordable housing in Kansas City?
Carter: Affordable housing for Kansas City residents can be achieved by ensuring continued funding of the housing trust fund. As a city we must ensure our neighbors have access to safe housing. Given the focus on affordable housing, this is the time to reassess the city’s long-term future needs as our demographics change and mature. The use of tax incentives to encourage affordable housing must be used sensibly and met with balance to encourage economic growth, especially in distressed neighborhoods. Further, the use of incentives must include community benefit agreements with firm clawback provisions to ensure developers honor the agreement.
Tarwater: I would do this by working with developers. We need them involved. When they build luxury places, they need to also build affordable units. I would also bring back the Building Bright Futures program. This would take some of the run-down properties and rehab them. We would work with the unions to provide skilled job training for residents so that they could rehab these blighted homes. You then move in a family with little rent until they are able to get back on their feet. If they pay the utilities, taxes and insurance for five years they keep the home.
Duncan: Housing is a human right and we need to treat it like one. Right now, developers often say it is “too expensive” to build truly affordable housing. As long as profit is a part of the equation, housing will never be truly affordable. That’s why I will support municipal social housing. Municipal social housing is housing that is democratically controlled, permanently affordable and off the private market. It can be achieved by investing in our housing trust fund to build things like cooperative housing, community land trusts and municipally owned housing.
Schuckman: I think we need to focus on working with tenant groups and developers to come to a compromise on how we develop new construction units. If a developer wants to come into downtown, for example, we need to make sure they have a certain number of units set aside for truly affordable and extremely affordable housing. Mixed-use environments create a more dynamic and vibrant community and I would like to see more of that. We should also explore if the city can invest in low-barrier housing to help get individuals off the streets and into a safe environment.
Moore: My approach will move beyond discussions around the definition of affordable housing and begin creating housing units within the existing real estate market for families. Investing public funds in the rehabilitation of Land Bank properties and existing homes or buildings is a faster and more economical way of providing affordable housing than new construction. This approach can be paired with land trust models, housing trust dollars, school district teams and existing social service organizations to provide wraparound services and ensure entire households are successful in maintaining long-term stable housing in a healthy neighborhood or building.
How should the city collaborate with a police department that cannot be held accountable to city regulation?
Carter: The City Council should engage in routine dialogue with the police board and police leadership; especially given the recent change in leadership and the collective awareness for implementing different methods of policing. I would support the City Council (with citizen input, especially with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color ) citizen input) exploring a process to establish a model to govern the police department itself. A demonstrated throughout model would be necessary before engaging the state to release the board that is appointed by the governor and permit the police department to be overseen by the City Council.
Tarwater: By working together we all have a better outcome. We need the police so that we can all be safe. Without safe neighborhoods we do not have community. There should always be an open dialogue and I know that we would have that with the police department.
Duncan: Accountability is key to any successful collaboration. As a City Council member, I will be accountable to the residents of Kansas City, the 6th District and my community; however, the KCPD isn’t required to be accountable to anyone in Kansas City. They aren’t required to live here, and they aren’t required to disclose how they spend $243 million of the city’s taxpayer dollars, which is above the state’s mandate. We must reallocate funds to programs that address the root causes of crime. Having local control would allow for real collaboration, and until we do so, we cannot effectively collaborate.
Schuckman: We need to ask hard questions of what the department is spending money on during the budget process. We are required to provide 25% of the budget to the police department but the council does have some oversight on that 25%. I would like to see us encourage community policing, investment in mental health crisis intervention by trained professionals and drug addiction intervention not tied directly to jail. We also need to begin a serious conversation with Jefferson City to get us on a path toward local control so we do have a force that is accountable to its citizens.
Moore: (No answer was provided for this question.)
What deciding factors would convince you to ask city taxpayers to subsidize a downtown stadium for the Royals?
Carter: I would need more information on a proposal before answering this question.
Tarwater: This is a complex issue. Firstly, they can’t move until the Chiefs and Royals work together to separate the leases. They have a “most favored nations clause” that would need to go away. If it does go downtown, then it would need to go by the Power & Light District, since the city subsidizes this for about $20 million a year. If you build an entertainment district seven blocks away then you would kill Power & Light. The city should be involved, and once elected, I plan on working on this issue. It needs to make financial sense for the taxpayers of the region.
Duncan: I don’t think taxpayers should subsidize a downtown stadium for the Royals. The people of Kansas City shouldn’t have to foot the bill for billionaires. Any development that receives taxpayer money should provide tangible benefits to our community. When I say tangible, I don’t mean a promise of future economic growth. I mean things like affordable housing, decent transportation systems and infrastructure. If the Royals want city funds for a stadium, they should contribute part of their revenues into things that benefit our communities and sign community benefits agreements to protect our workers and residents, especially residents surrounding the project.
Schuckman: I cannot think of any specific factors or circumstances where I would be comfortable asking the taxpayers to foot the bill for another stadium. Taxpayers have been on the hook for a long time in building the Truman Sports Complex, maintaining it and renovating it. Now, we would be asked to build a new stadium when we have many outstanding quality of life issues that continue to linger in our city. I would fully support a model where the developers privately finance a new stadium much like the KC Current has done for their new space on the riverfront.
Moore: All agreements that include public investment should include financial transparency in addition to a clearly defined community benefits agreement (CBA) and clawbacks for unmet obligations. Public investment should underscore visionary projects, long-term holds and local business activity that aligns with the priorities of each business district or neighborhood.
Is Kansas City taking the issue of missing Black women seriously enough? What can city government do to address this?
Carter: The city can keep this matter in the forefront of the community by partnering with the media and police to ensure the numbers and information regarding missing persons remains in the forefront of all Kansas City communities. This could encourage more residents to be more aware of questionable activities within their families and communities.
Tarwater: I am not sure on this question. I will look into what they are doing and see how this can be made better.
Duncan: No. To take something seriously means to address the problem and make changes. The bigger issue is that Kansas City isn’t taking care of our most vulnerable people. We have to listen to Black and brown communities and believe them when they talk about a problem, especially one as serious as this. We need to build communities that will keep our people safe. Safety looks like communities with their needs met, providing food, shelter and education.
Schuckman: I would say no solely based on the lack of reporting done on this issue. I think to remedy this, we need to work with KCPD and encourage them to get more involved with their communities. If residents see the police as there to help versus as an adversary, communication between the two will open up. Someone always knows something in a missing persons case, but they may not be comfortable coming forward in our current environment. The city itself could also utilize our social media and communication teams to raise awareness of missing persons to a larger audience.
Moore: The integrated community model appears to validate the power of leveraging existing organizations to increase their impact and effectiveness. I’ve seen this model work in other industries and have a lot of hope the strategy is effective here as Kansas City 360. This approach doesn’t necessarily need all new funding or administration and should include the police department and their specialized teams of social workers and crisis intervention trained officers. Metrics should include the reduction of violent and nonviolent incidents/arrests as well as school attendance, proficiencies and graduation rates; employment and homelessness statistics; and other data that reflects community-level health.
If elected, what issues will you make your own?
Carter: Safe neighborhoods, crime reduction, affordable housing, economic development and basic city services.
Tarwater: Curbs, sidewalks and general infrastructure for the 6th District. Safety so that we all can feel secure in our city, in our neighborhoods and in our community. Would like to see the permitting department reformed so that we make it easier for people to do business in Kansas City. We want the tax base to help all our neighborhood needs.
Duncan: We are experiencing an affordable housing crisis. To address this, I will work to invest in our housing trust fund and build housing that is permanently affordable and democratically controlled by the people who live there by taxing those who seek to profit from housing. I will fight to ensure development within our city is equitable, intentional and provides a tangible community benefit. I will co-govern with the people, meaning I will work with those who are most impacted by the problems within our city to craft policies that work for them.
Schuckman: I will heavily focus on equitable development for the 6th District, working with KCATA to improve our public transit systems, continue to address climate change issues even when we have push back from the state, and work to build our neighborhoods up so we are addressing resident needs on things like sidewalks, streetlights, roads, pools, parks and more, but also bring businesses to folks so they have what they need within a short walk, bike or bus ride from their homes. I would also like to promote increased diversity and inclusion in City Hall and within our various city processes.
Moore: Attainable housing that preserves and reinvests in existing housing stock, reflects neighborhood priorities and adds housing units at all sizes and prices to retain and grow the diverse population of residents in the 6th District.