Kansas City Council changing as big decisions loom - KCTV5

Kansas City Council changing as big decisions loom

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A majority of the Kansas City Council will be new when members take office in August, raising questions about how the council will tackle several looming major issues.

Seven of the 12 incumbents on the City Council are leaving, either because of term limits or resignations, and other members have serious challengers in the April 7 primary or June 23 general election, The Kansas City Star reported.

Mayor Sly James will face two challengers as he seeks a second term but is expected to easily win re-election. He has had a friendly relationship with the current council but a more independent, contentious council might greet him when members take office Aug. 1 and begin struggling with such issues as extending a streetcar route, the future of Kemper Arena, proposed changes to the city's airport and tax questions.

"There will be people who are looking for candidates who are independent thinkers as opposed to always going along with what the 29th floor (mayor's office) says," said Dan Cofran, who chairs the Citizens Association, a political club that screens and endorses City Council candidates.

As of Tuesday's filing deadline for candidates, James had only two potential challengers, Vincent C. Lee and Clay Chastain. Lee received only a handful of votes when he ran previously as a write-in candidate, and Chastain lives mostly in Virginia and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1995 and 1999. He is known mostly for his long-running campaign to bring light-rail to Kansas City.

Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, said James has generally done a good job and she knows of no one trying to run a slate of City Council candidates who would actively challenge the mayor's agenda. But she said she will support independent voices on the council.

"I don't want a council that's just a rubber stamp for the mayor," she said.

When asked about a new council, James said in a statement that "The only thing that can take away our progress is stagnation and inaction." He did not say if he will use his campaign resources to support a friendly slate of council candidates.

Incumbents Ed Ford, Russ Johnson, Melba Curls, Jan Marcason, Cindy Circo and John Sharp are all term-limited, and Michael Brooks resigned before his first term ended. Incumbents Dick Davis, Jermaine Reed and Jim Glover face serious challengers. Only council member Scott Taylor is running unopposed.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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