The eleven Kansas City mayoral candidates face a largely undecided electorate, according to the first independent poll released last week.
Councilwoman Jolie Justus and lawyer Steven Miller are the current front runners, earning 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
The race includes several other council members. Eighth-year council members Jermaine Reed, Scott Wagner, Scott Taylor and fourth-year council member Quinton Lucas each earned 7 percent of the votes in the poll. Alissia Canady, also in her fourth year on the council, was only slightly behind at 6 percent. Entrepreneur Phil Glynn received 3 percent.
The established politicians
Although the lead candidates are less than 10 percent ahead of many of their challengers, Justus and Miller both began the race with significant leads in campaign finances. According to Missouri Ethics Commission, Justus’ campaign began with $249,992 on hand, while Miller’s began with $252,280.
Justus’ political profile includes many significant accomplishments. She’s the first openly gay senator in Missouri and served on multiple committees during her two terms. She is the current chair for the KCI airport committee.
“We all have the same goal,” she says in her campaign video. “An inclusive, growing, world-class city.”
The growth Justus mentions may be the same “momentum” Miller refers to multiple times in his own campaign video, as well as in mayoral debates.
Of this momentum, Miller says, “We can feel it, it’s growing.”
In the first mayoral debate last fall, Miller said one his primary goals is “Honoring the billions of dollars invested” in transportation, including the KCI terminal, streetcar and other initiatives.
Miller, whose political history includes his seven-year membership and time as chair of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, is urging voters to elect “a proven leader.”
Personal stories and political checklists
In stark contrast to Justus and Miller, several of the race’s youngest candidates cite their proposed solutions for community needs as evidence of why they should be mayor.
Councilman Jermaine Reed is 34 years old and began his campaign with $76,004. Reed begins his campaign video sitting on the stoop of an old brick building in Kansas City.
“When I was a kid, we ended up here, in this transitional housing facility,” he says.
After describing how community resources helped him become the first in his family to graduate college, Reed highlights specific improvements he made on the east side as the city’s youngest-ever council member for the 3rd district.
Alissia Canady, 39, whose campaign budget began at just $26,365, doesn’t have a video for her campaign. But her intentions may be stated the most clearly of all the candidates so far.
Her “Grow KC Together” initiative seeks to invest money in economic development affecting schools, mental health and measures for crime prevention.
In April, the candidates will run in a nonpartisan primary. The two candidates with the most votes will then advance to the general election in June.