City Hall in Kansas City, Kansas for a story about the KCK 2023 primary election.
The 2023 primary election for the Unified Government Board of Commissioners will take place on Aug. 1. (Christopher Smith/The Beacon)

On Aug. 1, voters in Wyandotte County will narrow a crowded field of 15 candidates competing to represent four districts on the Unified Government’s Board of Commissioners, including five candidates in District 3 alone. After the 2023 primary election, the top two candidates in each race will move to the Nov. 7 ballot.

In District 3, incumbent Christian Ramirez is defending his seat against four primary challengers. This district covers the southeastern corner of Kansas City, Kansas, including most areas south of the Kansas River and east of I-635. 

The Unified Government’s 10-member Board of Commissioners is the chief governing body for Wyandotte County, serving as the municipal government for Kansas City, Kansas, and the county-level government for Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and portions of Lake Quivira. The board, overseen by Mayor and CEO Tyrone Garner, makes important decisions about the budget, development and social services.

To prepare for the Unified Government’s 2023 primary election, The Beacon reached out to all  candidates in the four competitive primary races, asking them to participate in a three-part questionnaire. These questionnaires include biographical questions, four lightning-round yes-or-no questions and five short-answer policy questions. Some responses have been lightly edited for length or clarity.

Following the 2023 primary election on Aug. 1, three candidates in the District 3 race will be eliminated, and the other two will proceed to the general election on Nov. 7.

The five candidates in this race are Ramirez, Tina Medina, Bette McGill, Michael Aguirre and Diana Aguirre.

All five candidates received the questionnaire by email, but only Medina and Michael Aguirre returned their responses. The Beacon followed up with the other three candidates several times by phone, but did not receive responses prior to publication.

Click on a link to jump to a question:

Meet the KCK 2023 primary candidates

Tina Medina

Medina is the owner of Wise Writers and Speakers and Media Oasis Medina, writing business grants, books and proposals, and she is the founder of Tina Medina Ministries. 

Favorite place to get tacos in KCK: Amigos on Shawnee Drive.

Favorite thing to do or favorite festival in KCK: I like to suggest ideas for grants for Argentine to better the neighborhood. I also like to walk in Argentine and meet new people. 

Michael Aguirre Jr.

Aguirre has worked for a company in Kansas City, Missouri, called Freightquote for over six years.

Favorite place to get tacos in KCK: I have a few different favorites. I love Camino Real in Armourdale, Tacos Jarochos in Argentine and Tacos El Tio and Bonito Michoacán in Central.

Favorite thing to do or favorite festival in KCK: I am biased but I absolutely love Silver City Days. It’s the first Saturday in October and usually has some great fall weather. I have been in the parade many years and also remember playing football at Argentine Middle and wearing our jerseys after the game to the festival!

Lightning round questions

Candidates were asked for a yes-or-no position in response to these four questions:

  1. Should the Department of Justice investigate the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department?
  2. Should officials be allowed to hold more than one elected position at a time?
  3. Should the Board of Commissioners have limited the mayor’s powers in February 2023?
  4. Should housing developments receiving tax incentives be required to include units at affordable rent prices? 

How would you increase affordable housing in Wyandotte County?

Medina: We could seek federal dollars for more Section 8 housing and perhaps create some dynamic new communities. We could also take the land bank excess land or homes to see if that could be redeveloped and earmarked for low-income housing. How many people in Wyandotte County have been displaced because of this harsh economy and could we create a payment plan or a freeze on property taxes is the real question at hand.

Aguirre: I would increase affordable housing by streamlining regulations by simplifying and expediting the permitting and approval process for affordable housing developments. I would also seek out and leverage state, federal and philanthropic funding opportunities specifically designed to support affordable housing initiatives.

What would you do to improve public safety?

Medina: Cameras on every major street would be a great way to let people know that public safety begins when we can capture crime on camera like in every other city. This act really needs to happen. The increase in street lighting and solar lighting for homes would be a great deterrence as well.

Aguirre: I would work with the police and community police officers to create events that strengthen community relations. I would also like to enhance our current crime prevention programs and increase police presence and patrol units in high-crime areas.

Would you do anything to make property tax assessment more fair?

Medina: I would propose easier ways to pay, such as payment plans, offsetting fees for seniors and the Kansas Homestead resources. I would also propose financial case management for seniors and those on fixed incomes if needed. The national housing crisis created by COVID-19 is contributing to the increase of property values in the Midwest. We have to ask ourselves: are home prices overinflated? What happens when the bubble pops?

Could a hardship clause be introduced in which a payment plan or a freeze of 2022 rates would be in place? Creating something like the Westside Chapter 353 Development Plan is something to consider. 

Aguirre: First, I would educate myself and gain a thorough understanding of the property assessment process here in Wyandotte County. Learn about the laws and regulations. I would advocate for transparency in the assessment process. I would push that the Unified Government provide clear and accessible information about the assessment criteria and valuation techniques. I would encourage our property owners who believe that their assessments were unfair to appeal the process.

What should the Unified Government do to address the issue of rising houselessness?

Medina: Financial case managers are needed to help on an individual basis. As a former homeless case manager, everyone is different and their story is unique. We have to be balanced and wise on the issue of homelessness because the government can’t solve all problems, but with social agency partners, it is possible to help. Some people want to stay on the streets or in the woods. Grants can be actively sought as well. Can there be a path from being on the streets to getting public housing from the Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority? I think so.

Aguirre: This goes hand in hand with a few topics earlier discussed. Increasing affordable housing units within the city. The UG should support and spread the word better about already established resources such as homeless shelters and nonprofit organizations that work to help homelessness. UG should also advocate for state and federal support with increased funding. Create a task force that can provide recommendations and guidance.

If elected, what issues will you make your own?

Medina: Urban core grant writer for Argentine, Armourdale and Northeast. The Argentine Plan — we have been ignored in planning for 50 years — and partnering with agencies to seek grants for District 3. Help Rosedale with their proposed community center and a playground or kids park for the Frank Rushton neighborhood.

Aguirre: If elected, I will make all these issues my own. Plus, I will work hard for these kids and create partnerships with organizations that provide resources for kids before, after and during school.

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Josh Merchant is The Kansas City Beacon's local government reporter. After graduating from Seattle University, Josh attended Columbia Journalism School, earning a master’s degree in investigative journalism....