Executive director of the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association (ANDA)
3rd District commissioner for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas
The Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library's sleek, modern South Branch is a rare bit of new civic development in a neighborhood that's pocked with blight and vacant businesses. So it's easy to see why Ann Murguia, 3rd District Commissioner for the Unified Government, wants to meet here. On a snowy afternoon 11 days before the election, library patrons surf the Web on a bank of computers, kids roam the aisles picking out books, and people talk and read at bar-style high tables in a corner.
"I chose this place because I wanted you to be able to see how, when you bring a large group of committed volunteers together for a common goal, what can happen," Murguia says. "I'm very excited to be part of a group of volunteers that raised $2 million for this $6 million library. And we did it in a relatively short period of time — it took about two and a half years — and I'm talking from the beginning of fundraising to the end of construction."
The Pitch: What one piece of experience makes you the better candidate?
Murguia: I've lived in one of the most challenging urban neighborhoods here in Kansas City, Kansas, for 17 years now. Besides living here, I work here, and since I've been working here, I've realized just how difficult it is to redevelop these areas. As the executive director of ANDA [Argentine Neighborhood Development Association], I've learned that, and I've been able to figure out ways to still develop this area, this library being one of my development successes in addition to the new grocery store that we're building right now. [A Save-A-Lot store is set to open at 2100 Metropolitan.]
I have been intimately involved with those kinds of developments, along with building new infrastructure and new housing. My opponent has not been involved with those kinds of things. And, to begin to turn this entire county around, not just a very specific area of this county, it's going to be important that the next mayor knows how to do those things.
What crucial thing did Mayor Joe Reardon not accomplish?
[Refers to a property-tax map that her campaign has produced.] Both Joe Reardon and Carol Marinovich, when they first ran for office, said that they were going to redevelop the urban core. Clearly, they were not successful. They had great success out here [indicates the Village West area], and they did a lot of amazing things. But my biggest concern is that we're growing poverty at a faster rate than we are growing economic development in western Wyandotte County. And if we don't get a mayor that truly has the ability to redevelop the urban core, we're going to be in big trouble, regardless of how beautiful it is out here [at Village West].
The biggest thing is that we continue to raise our property-tax rates because of the inability to redevelop this area. We have to offset those costs somehow. We have to get that revenue from somewhere.
It's been a friendly campaign, but tell us why your opponent would be a bad choice for Wyandotte County.
Mark has no business experience and does not have any development experience in the urban core. Zero. It's already challenging enough to make development happen in these areas. The last thing we need is a mayor who has no experience or results in that. Mark's results, accomplishments, successes are all around what we've done as a commission collectively. Outside of that, there's really nothing that my opponent can put his fingerprint on and say, "I worked on that. I actually did that. I actually made that happen." He has never worked an economic-development deal outside of his work as a commissioner. He has never recruited a business. He has never been involved in the contract between a developer and a business.