KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Councilman Jermaine Reed is the second youngest member* on city council. A Kansas City native, Reed is the first person in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
We met with Reed in the newly opened Two Light. He spoke with 41 Action News reporter Steven Dial.
Q. Why did you say, 'I want to be the next leader of KC?'
A. "My mother raised my brothers and I here, there are five of us. We were house-to-house a lot. At one point, we were homeless right in the heart of the city. She instilled a great sense of value in all of us and to make a difference in the community and world around us.
The first in my family to get a college degree and a master’s degree.** I have frankly rolled up my sleeves and first ran for office at the age of 25 and wanted to make a difference. I was the first person in city history at the age of 25 to be elected to the city council.
From my work and leadership with the KCI airport and my work to eliminate food desserts in the heart of the community where we have two grocery stores on the Prospect corridor. Our city is not perfect, but it can be, and I want to be sure to continue to serve as a leader to help move a bold agenda forward for this city and for the years to come."
Q. How will you vote on the Pre K question?
A. "I know firsthand what education can do in the life of an individual. I think the mayor's initiative is one that is admirable and one that we need to be focused on. Unfortunately, given the mechanics of it, it's not something I am able to support and here is why: There is a 3/8 cent sales tax that we are promoting from this tax that is before us. I think it is a regressive tax.
It is important that we have a comprehensive plan that is holistic that everyone can agree with. Right now, unfortunately, we do not. As mayor, if this passes, I will certainly enforce it the best way we can."
Q. What will you do to lower the crime problem in the city?
A. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We in this entire community should be upset about when there is a loss of life of a loved one that has been killed due to gun violence. I am not just saying community policing from a buzz word standpoint. How do we actually work to make sure our officers are focused solely on policing and working within the actual communities that they are assigned to and or live in?
We have to figure out conflict resolution for them and figure out ways for them to address some of the mental health issues that people may have and providing them those resources is certainly key. We also have to provide real hope for everyone in our entire city - that is what this boils down to for me. As mayor, I want to make sure that I am working hard to address this because this is our number one issue that we really need to be focused on."
Q. Infrastructure is a hot topic right now, especially with the potholes. What will you do to improve the infrastructure issues in town?
A. I think many people want to be able to ride on smooth streets. We have to fix our crumbling infrastructure and we have to make sure we are putting the type of resources that are needed for our street preservation in our actual funds. In the past eight years, there has been a decrease in our street preservation funds. This is a federal, state, and city issue that we have a community in the region that we are able to benefit form greatly, where we are able to have a very good infrastructure in the city."
Q. Where do you stand on incentives?
A. "We have to be very intentional to ensure that we are being very equitable with all of our types of incentives that are needed and using them where they are needed the most. Those are areas of town that need them the most but there are areas of town that you can look at and probably say well, maybe that is not the best use of our actual incentives but we also have to ensure we are working with our local school districts to make sure they have a seat at the table."
Q. In 30 seconds or less, why should someone vote for you on April 2?
A. "Being able to address key issues, violent crime in this city, being able to address much of our crumbling infrastructure and also being able to provide basic city services for all citizens throughout this entire city. On April 2, I ask for all citizens to vote for Jermaine Reed to ensure we continue to move forward and put people first."
More information about Reed is available on his campaign website.
*The original version of this story reported Reed was the youngest member of the City Council. A review of dates of birth indicates Reed is two months older than council colleague Quinton Lucas.
**At the time of this interview, Councilman Reed believed he had completed the requirements of a Master's program. He learned later he had unfinished coursework. He plans to finish the coursework.