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KCMO mayoral candidates square off in second debate

Posted at 11:16 PM, May 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 06:36:06-04

The two candidates for Kansas City, MIssouri, mayor — City Council members Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas — squared off Wednesday in the second of 12 scheduled debates.

The Guadalupe Centers hosted to the most recent forum, which offered the two candidates a chance to speak to voters, many of whom were from the Latino community.

It didn't take long for one of the top issues of the race, affordable housing, to be brought up as a way to improve neighborhoods.

“We’ve done a lot of tax breaks to help build houses for lawyers like us, but not regular working folks with families like you,” Lucas said. “What I want to make sure we’re doing is, when we’re talking about housing policy, we’re talking about how we can get more people into single-family homes.”

Lucas has made affordable housing one of the cornerstone issues of his campaign. He took direct aim at the city offering incentives for expensive apartment projects on Wednesday.

“A new project is going to charge $1,500 a month in rent,” Lucas said. “Why is the city playing in that game instead of actually creating more opportunities for $400, $500, or $600 a month?”

Lucas’ opponent took a somewhat different approach.

Justus used more of her time discussing a campaign pledge to start a citywide department of transportation, which could address things like improving bus routes and the quality of streets.

“We can usually find a quality job for someone," she said. "We can find housing and educational opportunities. However, we never do it in such a way where there’s a connection. I envision a city where everybody is within 15 minutes from frequent transportation. We can do that if we can coordinate and plan better.”

Neighbors who spoke to 41 Action News said affordable housing was one of the issues they cared about most in this year’s race, which will be decided June 18.

“Far too many people are paying more in rent than in house payments,” resident Paul Rojas said.

Neighbor Rafaela Lali Garcia agreed, "“For us, it’s a big thing because we have a lot of poor people here."

The next debate between Lucas and Justus is scheduled for noon Saturday at Winnetonka High School.