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The YMCA of Greater Kansas City recently announced it was closing its KCK location, on Eighth Street. What's your reaction?
I really wish that the Y would have come to us before they decided to close and actually have a conversation with us about how the government might be able to help keep the facility open. Unfortunately, they didn't, and now it creates a hole in our community. It's one less recreational, healthy option people have in the urban core. It's very disappointing.
Senior pastor at Trinity Community Church, a United Methodist Congregation
District 1 commissioner-at-large for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas
KCK's Prescott Plaza shopping area, on 18th Street just off Interstate 70, looks like the sort of commercial development that could fit in the suburbs, rather than in the troubled urban core. There's a Sun Fresh grocery store, a Jack in the Box, a few other necessity chain stores — and there's the Mexican restaurant called Tapatio. This is where Wyandotte County Commissioner-at-Large Mark Holland wanted to meet, in part to say that Prescott Plaza should serve as a beacon for what KCK has gotten right.
"This site was a former truck stop that was rife with prostitution and drugs," he says. "When it was torn down by the Unified Government, and a grocery store was put in, all these ancillary businesses came with it. This represents a very important strategic investment in Kansas City, Kansas. And it shows how you invest in quality in urban areas, and that success has a ripple effect in the neighborhoods around it."
Over a plate of crunchy tacos ("Great!" he says) and beans, he answers more questions about his campaign.
The Pitch: What one piece of experience makes you the better candidate?
It would be big-picture collaborative leadership. You don't ever hear a quarterback on TV talking about "what I did." It's about what "we" did. What you accomplish, whether it's in a church, whether it's in a community organization, whether it's in a city, you do it all by we. And that collaborative, big-picture vision is what separates me.
I've been an at-large commissioner for six years, so I've been elected countywide twice and have been responsible to all the constituent areas of the county, not just one district. And that's a dramatic difference in vision. The risk of representing one area is the risk of parochialism. You focus on the interest, and sometimes it can even be viewed that you're in competition with the other districts. When you have that big-picture vision, you know that what's good for one part of town is good for all parts of town.
What crucial thing did Mayor Joe Reardon not accomplish?
I think it's the wrong question to ask to say, "Where did he let the county down?" or "What did he leave on the table?" I think there's a building and progression that goes on. Carol Marinovich did things that nobody else could have done and was able to accomplish them because of the changes in the Unified Government.
Joe Reardon was able to take things to another level because of the work of Carol Marinovich, not because she left things on the table but because she created an environment where there was more opportunity. And he took full advantage of that. And I stand on the shoulders of two giants. They have created infinitely more opportunity for Wyandotte County than was ever present before. I inherited a city that is much healthier than the one Joe Reardon inherited.