Five positions on the Unified Government’s Board of Commissioners are up in the Nov. 7, 2023, election, including the District 4 commissioner representing central Kansas City, Kansas.
As the primary governing body in Wyandotte County, this board makes decisions related to the yearly budget, housing, policing and government services across the county. Commission meetings are overseen by the mayor and CEO, a position held by Tyrone Garner since 2021
The District 4 position is currently held by Harold Johnson, who has decided not to run for reelection. The candidates to replace him are Evelyn Hill and Tarence Maddox.
Whoever wins in the Nov. 7, 2023, election will serve for the next four years and will make important decisions about the Unified Government’s charter, which could face existential challenges from Garner and other city leaders within Wyandotte County.
District 4 covers areas of Kansas City, Kansas, that mainly lie between Minnesota Avenue and Parallel Parkway, east of 47th Street. It also includes a northern portion of the Kensington neighborhood.
To prepare for the 2023 election, The Beacon reached out to all candidates in the five Unified Government races with a three-part questionnaire. These questionnaires include biographical questions, five lightning-round yes-or-no questions and five short-answer policy questions. Some responses have been lightly edited for length or clarity.
Tarence Maddox did not respond to the questionnaire prior to publication.
Click on a link to jump to a question:
- Meet the candidates
- Lightning-round questions
- How would you increase affordable housing in Wyandotte County?
- What would you do to improve public safety?
- Would you do anything to make property tax assessment more fair?
- What should the Unified Government do to address the issue of rising houselessness?
- If elected, what issues will you make your own?
Meet the candidates
Maddox did not respond to The Beacon’s questionnaire.
He previously served on the Board of Commissioners from 2011 and 2015. During his time, the Unified Government accused him of ethical violations, including attempts to get special treatment as an elected official. He was censured and asked to resign.
Maddox denied the allegations and did not resign.
Earlier this month, Maddox pleaded guilty to two charges of disorderly conduct after an incident in October 2022. He was pulled over for speeding and, after being taken to a hospital for medical concerns, he was allegedly combative with an officer and a nurse. He will be sentenced on Dec. 1, three weeks after the 2023 election. Under his plea deal, he will likely face a fine and a year of supervised probation.
On his campaign’s Facebook page, he advocates for a four-day work week, an increased minimum wage, creating more affordable housing and investing in infrastructure.
Maddox is an advocate for criminal justice reform and helped pass “Ban the Box” legislation that prohibits prospective employers from asking applicants about their criminal history. He also sued the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department in 2020 for pepper spraying him and his teenage daughter during the George Floyd protests.
Hill is a consultant at her practice, Evelyn Hill Consulting, and served as president of the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education from 2014 to 2017.
Favorite place to get tacos in KCK: The restaurant Margarita’s (close to the Kansas-Missouri line).
Favorite thing to do or favorite festival in KCK: Wyandotte County Fair
Lightning round questions
Candidates were asked for a yes-or-no position in response to these four questions:
- Should the Department of Justice investigate the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department?
- Should officials be allowed to hold more than one elected position at a time?
- Should the Board of Commissioners have limited the mayor’s powers in February 2023?
- Should housing developments receiving tax incentives be required to include units at affordable rent prices?
- Should the Unified Government remove the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) fee from BPU bills and recoup that revenue elsewhere?
How would you increase affordable housing in Wyandotte County?
Hill: I would begin to inquire about successful housing projects nationwide and how they were able to leverage low-income housing using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) with developers to begin the process to execute building mixed-income affordable housing units in District 4.
What would you do to improve public safety?
Hill: I would work with the group Churches United for Justice to begin the process of identifying successful crime prevention solutions and work with the commission to find solution-based narratives as was cited in Oakland, California, and New Jersey that reduced violence. I would also work with the police department to engage in more community projects that could reduce gun violence in our community.
Would you do anything to make property tax assessment more fair?
Hill: I would be strategic to work with the commission to manage the mill levy relative to the evaluations that we don’t control.
What should the Unified Government do to address the issue of rising houselessness?
Hill: I would work with the commission to consider requesting a federal grant to assist with shelter resources. I would also work with the other tiny-home project developers that could build housing for the homeless who have the capacity to pay around $250-$300 a month.
If elected, what issues will you make your own?
Hill: Affordable housing, unhoused neighbors, and public safety.
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