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From Inmate to In-Charge: Leavenworth welcomes new mayor

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-14 07:58:42-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The city of Leavenworth has a new mayor, and he is anything but ordinary.

Before becoming mayor, Jermaine Wilson took an unusual path.

In 2007, he was convicted of a felony and spent three years in prison for possession of drugs. While behind bars, he became a Christian and decided to make it his mission to teach people not to make the same mistakes he did.

He first spoke to churches and juveniles at detention facilities and taught inmates how to write resumes and fill out job applications. Then, the father of five established the Unity in the Community program.

LISTEN: The 41 Files Podcast discusses Leavenworth mayor's path to redemption

“Once I got released, I started serving my community,” said Wilson. “The moment that you start to build up people, you build up your community.”

After his criminal record was expunged, Wilson ran for city commissioner in 2017. He received the most votes during the election, enabling him to become mayor in 2019.

His goals as mayor are to reduce crime, fix blight and improve conditions residents live in.

“When people hear my story, I want people to know there is hope, that there is another way to go,” he said. “You’ve seen a person come to the other side, who is making a difference, who learned from his mistakes, wants to give back, help the community, prevent crime, let people know that there is another way.”

The community filed into City Hall Tuesday to see Wilson preside over his first official city commission meeting. There was even an overflow in the hallways.

“He got the community excited about politics again,” said Stacy McCowen, who owns Candle Queen Candles in downtown Leavenworth. “We’re finally going to have someone that is going to change the city.”