In the April 4 Kansas City Council primary election, voters across the city will select among three candidates to replace incumbent council member Teresa Loar, who has represented the 2nd District since 2015.
The 2nd District encompasses areas of Kansas City’s Northland. It mostly borders Barry Road on the north. As a result of redistricting, it reaches Weatherby Lake on the west and Missouri 291 on the east. Areas north of Missouri 152 that were in the 2nd District are now included in the 1st. All of the candidates live in the district, and the at-large council representative is elected by voters citywide.
The Beacon sent a three-part questionnaire to all three candidates running for the 2nd District at-large seat. Mickey Younghanz, owner of a construction contracting company, did not respond to multiple messages. The two other candidates returned their questionnaires, which include three personal questions, five lightning-round yes-or-no questions and five short-answer policy questions. Some responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Click on a link to jump to a question:
- Meet the candidates
- Lightning-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 candidates:
Manley is an organizer with KC Tenants, a citywide tenant union that advocates for affordable housing and tenant rights.
Favorite Kansas City fountain: Northland Fountain
Favorite ice cream shop: Island Ice
French has a consulting background in visual communications, city planning and design and public engagement.
Favorite Kansas City fountain: Northland Fountain in Anita B. Gorman Park
Favorite Kansas City ice cream shop: Betty Rae’s
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?
Manley: The city should use the Housing Trust Fund to invest in the people here. The Housing Department should be doing research and creating training for people to create co-operatives and community land trusts. My long-term vision is that Kansas City commits to creating a Municipal Social Housing Department to acquire properties and create municipal social housing off the private market, universally accessible and democratically controlled.
French: I don’t want to paint with a broad brush what housing security means in a city as diverse as KC. Rather, we need to have more of a pointed approach that addresses the nuances of the issues based on each neighborhood. Overall, we should not make it unattainable to develop affordable housing in Kansas City. We should also ensure our land use policies provide the housing opportunities necessary to keep pace with demand from working households. We also need a long-term strategic master plan that would drive housing projects in a sustainable, equitable manner.
How should the city collaborate with a police department that cannot be held accountable to city regulation?
Manley: The city should collaborate with Kansas City residents to find ways to reduce crime in Kansas City and better understand the issues residents are having with holding the police department accountable. Complaints go directly to the police department, but the city does not have access to those complaints. We can and should implement a complaints program through the city’s Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department (CREO). If a resident has an issue with KCPD, we should direct them to CREO for complaints and investigations.
French: We have to focus on data-driven crime prevention strategies and wraparound services that generate measurable outcomes. Both are needed and that work cannot be done in silos. We must also engage the community and build positive relationships and trust with law enforcement. I look forward to working with our new Chief Graves, who is already showing up in communities and working on solutions.
What deciding factors would convince you to ask city taxpayers to subsidize a downtown stadium for the Royals?
Manley: I would not support public dollars going to a downtown stadium. If a downtown stadium were built in Kansas City, I would work with the communities most directly impacted to see what support they would need to stay in their communities. This would include issues around housing, public transportation and job creation and stability.
French: I’m interested in learning more about how the stadium would be paid for, how it would benefit our communities and working families, where it will be built and what type of development would be generated around it. We also need to know more about the community benefits that we’d see as a result of it.
Is Kansas City taking the issue of missing Black women seriously enough? What can city government do to address this?
Manley: No, Kansas City has not taken this seriously enough. KC Defender was the first news outlet to highlight these stories and has been dismissed despite their reporting. Our city government should take the concerns of our community, specifically Black and brown communities, seriously, even when our police department does not. If and when a concern is raised by the community, we should be actively connecting with the people bringing those concerns to light and supporting them in finding missing women.
French: This is an issue that has not received enough attention. We need more elected officials using their voices to push for change in how missing persons are reported. We also need more officers who look like the people of Kansas City so that more trust is built.
If elected, what issues will you make your own?
Manley: 1) Co-governance is a model in which the people are proactively and consistently engaged in making decisions that affect our lives. This will include hosting monthly events, door knocking and phone banking to listen to the needs of people. 2) Champion municipal social housing, meeting our housing needs and giving the people decision-making power over how and where we live. This housing is built by organized labor and reinvests in our communities instead of for-profit developers. 3) A wholesale reassessment of our tax incentives policy to create oversight over this process. Ensure that tax incentives are assessed and scrutinized through a public engagement process.
French: Listening to voices across Kansas City has shown me our city cares about safe and healthy communities, housing security, equitable development and basic services. As an active listener and coalition builder, I will work to: focus on crime prevention strategies balanced with wraparound services; create a comprehensive housing approach that reflects our diverse neighborhoods, focus on upfront public and stakeholder input and increased equitable development; increase efficiency for basic services like trash pickup, snow removal and street resurfacing. Our city’s momentum can come to a screeching halt if we don’t listen to our residents and focus on their concerns.