KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Five Kansas City, Kansas, residents will vye for the mayoral post on Tuesday, Aug. 3, in the primary election.
David Alvey has been in office since 2018, and filed for reelection.
KSHB 41 News spoke to four of the five mayoral candidates: Alvey, Chris Steineger, Janice Witt and Daran Duffy. The fifth candidate, Tyrone Garner, declined an interview.
Janice Witt, CEO of Reola Grant Center
Witt said she has been “continually asked” to run for office to give people a voice.
“We would like to be all warm and fuzzy about it, but there is nothing warm and fuzzy about it,” Witt told KSHB 41 News. “Our leadership is completely ignoring us. They are biased to outside influence.”
When it comes to the KCK Board of Public Utilities, she said some residents are having their service “turned off for pennies,” while large organizations aren’t paying for BPU bills.
“We have small businesses in Wyandotte County that have packed up and [left] – who are planning on packing up and leaving if we don't get something different," Witt said.
Wyandotte County, according to Witt, is “the poorest county in the state” and has buildings sitting empty as businesses like American Dairy and Cerner leave the area.
If elected, Witt said she plans to “fire Doug Bach” on her first day in office.
“Point blank, he's gotta go. He's gotta go,” she said of the county administrator. “He has absolutely ripped the heart out of this community. He's passing the wealth in this community to outside individuals, to big conglomerates, to corporate attorneys, to big business…
“We have a transition team that is prepared to walk in day one, and give to the people of this community what they deserve, and that is love and happiness.”
Additionally, soft skills are needed in the city, according to Witt.
“We need to learn how to love one another, how to be there for one another, you can always learn another lesson,” she said.
Duffy said his “primary drive” to run for mayor was to do something in the community that politicians haven’t been doing for six decades – “actually serving the people.”
“The only way to upset the fruit basket is to upset the fruit basket, if you will,” he said.
His agenda, if elected, would include taking a “really close look” at Bach, who holds an unelected position.
“It's an appointed position, and yet he seems to have more power than the mayor, or the commissioners,” Duffy said, “and how can someone that's unelected represent the people in a position? It doesn't make any sense. It's upside down.”
He also would conduct an audit on the city, which he said he believes would reveal a surplus.
“We'll look back into a rule on taxes, trying to lower our mill levy, obviously the housing assessments are problematic as they keep going up,” Duffy said.
He also said he would like to focus on speeding, “gang activity” and improving sidewalks.
“I’m just interested in a little bit lower, little bit smaller government,” Duffy said. “A little less hands in the money basket, and a lot less spending unless we're actually focusing on infrastructure.”
Overall, he said he wants the best for the community.
“We want something new,” Duffy said, “and I think everyone here notices that, and we want something new, want something different, and I can bring a lot of different.”
And he believes he’s the best because he’s “not a part of the machine.”
“I’m an evangelist in the ministry,” he said. “I love Jesus. He's my heart and my soul.”
Steineger has had “a lot of reform ideas” for years, and told KSHB 41 News now is the time to implement them as mayor.
“The BPU is owned by the UG, but there's still a lot of duplication,” he said, “and we're stuck paying for that bill, and it's caused our property taxes to increase, and our BPU bills to increase. And I would like to work to eliminate all of the duplication of the UG and the BPU, and pass those savings back to the taxpayers.”
That would be the first priority for the former District 6 senator, followed by addressing crime.
“During the COVID shutdown, crime went up quite a bit across the country, including Wyandotte County, a lot of petty crime,” Steineger said. “The citizens are really upset about that.”
Steineger said he believes he’s best for the job because of his political background and business skills.
“I think my combination of local and political knowledge combined with business skills, makes me the best candidate to do the merging and consolidation between the UG and the BPU, and then passing those savings to the taxpayers, where it came from,” he said.
Plus, he said he knows the county’s political scene and “how tough it can be.”
“We've been controlled by what I call a ‘Chicago machine’ for many decades,” he said.
The city’s tax climate, according to Steineger, also needs to improve.
“I have a knowledge of public policy, and how to make laws, but I have never been part of a local government scene,” he said. “Active in politics, yes, but not the local government scene.”
Mayor David Alvey
Alvey said he wants to be reelected, in part, to help move forward “several initiatives.”
“Our community wants to see code enforcement improved. It wants to see improved police relations,” Alvey said. “Our community wants to see reduced taxes, and our community is going to depend upon bringing new development, and continuing to bring new development into our community. And as we do that we can grow our tax base and continue to grow how our community wants, and also take the pressure off of taxes.”
If reelected, Alvey said he will “continue to be very aggressive” to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“The sooner we jump on top of this, the better it's going to be for people's lives and livelihoods,” he said.
He also would focus on stormwater infrastructure and other basic services, as a target priority.
“We have failing infrastructure across this community... We have to get on top of that and we have to be very honest with our residents about what that's going to take for us, and how long that will take,” Alvey said.
Those efforts would include focusing on the northeast area of the city, according to Alvey.
The infrastructure improvements, he said, would be enacted through Affordable Care Act funds and a current infrastructure plan making its way through Congress.
“The most important thing for us long term is to bring, attract economic development, and our incentives are working to our tax base,” Alvey said. “And we're going to start seeing some real improvements in revenue to the city in just a couple of years, which again will let us invest more money into quality of life improvements in our city.”