After Trump’s First Year, Metro Kansas City Residents Remain Divided On His Performance
At the end of President Donald Trump's first year in office, KCUR wanted to know how his agenda was affecting the Kansas City metro, and how residents thought the president had been doing.
We did a series of stories and talk show discussions on the topic, and spent time at sites around the region gathering people's thoughts. We plan to do more of this in the future, but for this first round of conversations we went to Parkville, Missouri; Midtown and Northeast Kansas City, Missouri; and Orrick, Missouri.
We heard a wide range of comments but also some common themes: people are more politically engaged, they don't like the president's tweets, and immigration is on everyone's mind.
Around the time of Trump's inauguration, Alexis Webb-Bechtold visited the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Missouri. She said it was interesting to talk to park rangers there about how their jobs with the National Park Service might change.
Webb-Bechtold said she has similar concerns.
“If you blatantly attack and pull funding from the national parks," she says, "blatantly change what the EPA website says, that’s a problem to me. Let’s have all of the information rather than the parts you like.”
Alvin Shaw, who works at Snyder's Grocery Store in Northeast Kansas City, said Trump is "arrogant," and wishes he would back off the hawkish rhetoric about North Korea. But he said he agrees with some of the president's immigration policies.
"I support Trump's policy about foreign people not coming over here. They come over and get free housing, food stamps, tax breaks and all that kind of stuff and people who've been here working all our lives, like me, it's hard for us to get that stuff. If you've been here in our country working, we should come first."
Katie Biddix works as a hairdresser in Orrick, Missouri, and says there are some things about the president's policies she disagrees with. For example, she doesn't think transgender people should be banned from the military. But she says the economy is doing well, unemployment is down and her business, Kreations by Katie, has had a good year. She and her husband will see a financial benefit from the new tax plan.
"I have my own business. My husband is an owner-operator truck driver. We just talked to our CPA and he said when the tax plan takes effect that it will save us about $900 more a year, which is awesome! Changes in health care are helping us, too."
Sabrina Hussein, a 19-year-old community college journalism student, said she has friends who worry they can't travel home or bring family over from countries on the president's travel-ban list. She said she's been a frequent target of hate speech in the last year, especially when she wears her hijab.
“Me and my mom were walking to pay our phone bill. This man started honking at us and shouting, ‘Go back to your country!’ My mom doesn’t speak English but she started yelling at him anyway, (saying) 'She was born in this country! Where’s she going to go back to?’ I think America has a lot of racism and I think Donald Trump is a racist. But people elected him no matter what he did or said.”
Elizabeth Rains Johnson supported Harry Truman for the same reason she likes Trump: In her opinion, Truman was, and Trump is, direct and a bold decision maker. She said she'd like to see the economy improve in small towns, but other than that she's delighted with Trump's first year.
“I think he’s done a marvelous job. I also think he’s right about the 'fake news' and the media. I used to be a big fan of CNN and The Today Show. Now I watch Fox News. When you see the different reports, (you know) things get held back, as if you went back and edited certain words from a quote. I don’t agree with that kind of reporting at all. But I also think he should stop attacking (the media) so much, and he needs more discipline on Twitter.”
Phil Diamond of Diamond Cuts Barber Shop at 34th and Troost said he was shocked by the president's remarks after violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia last year. He said he wonders how people who voted for Trump can support him after hearing some of the president's offensive rhetoric.
“It’s a circus. And if racism were lying dormant, it isn’t anymore. I don’t have a problem with (Trump's) policies that try to bring more businesses back here, but he’s tearing down our own country. Some of the things he says should not be said out loud.”
Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter and producer. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @laurazig.