KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Kansas City’s new mayor is already hard at work.
Quinton Lucas won Tuesday night’s election by a decisive 18 points against opponent Jolie Justus.
KCTV5 News sat down with him on Wednesday, where Lucas said the first thing on his agenda is to hire a staff before he takes office in August.
Lucas also said he plans on making a lot of phone calls to school district superintendents and the police chief. But, he added that coming in and immediately causing a huge shakeup in City Hall isn’t his style.
Lucas’ underdog victory is something many may not have expected because his opponent, Justus, received larger endorsements and funding.
Lucas said his win is thanks to regular people.
“We tried to provide a voice to a lot of those people that maybe they don’t run an organization,” Lucas said. “But frankly, they matter.”
When asked how he plans to break up the status quo, Lucas said, “We need to be more equitable, more fair in how we’re coming to issues. I think another way we break the status quo is to stop asking for tax increases all the time.”
The mayor-elect said his approach isn’t so much about making radical changes. Instead, he just wants to work smarter at what the city is already doing.
One example is using existing bond money for fixing roads, which is what it’s supposed to be used for.
Also, making sure economic development incentives are used in parts of the city where they’re most needed.
“The intercontinental hotel is not blighted. The Country Club Plaza is not blighted. What is blighted, are dilapidated houses in parts of East Kansas City. What is blight, is old abandoned business structures that have sometimes been vacant more than a decade. That’s what we need to focus on, and I’m going to make sure we do it,” Lucas said.
His biggest priority though, is public safety. Lucas wants more neighborhood police officers and more social programs within the police department.
“The number of homicides we have is intolerable. And I want to make sure that we’re bringing that number down, so we’re not on the ‘Top Ten Most Dangerous Cities List,’ as we’ve been my entire life,” Lucas said.
Lucas said outgoing Mayor Sly James can expect a lot of calls from him moving forward. And while their leadership styles are different, he appreciates the momentum James created.
“He did give us our swagger back at a time we needed it,” Lucas said. “I think this metro is better for his service, so I look forward to continuing that as the years go ahead.
As a boy growing up in poverty in Kansas City’s east side, Lucas said he never pictured himself as mayor.
He thought he’d like to be a history teacher but seeing Emanuel Cleaver become Kansas City’s first black mayor inspired Lucas to reach for the sky.
He now hopes he can be that inspiration for other young children in Kansas City.