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KC Mayoral Candidate Jim Rowland

Candidate Jim Rowland poses by the deli case at Bela Napoli. Rowland says small businesses like this one are the key to Kansas City's economy.
Photo by Steve Bell. Click to enlarge.
Candidate Jim Rowland poses by the deli case at Bela Napoli. Rowland says small businesses like this one are the key to Kansas City's economy.

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kcur/local-kcur-951402.mp3

Kansas City, MO – Interview transcript -- KCUR's Steve Bell talks with mayoral candidate Jim Rowland. Rowland chose Italian deli Bela Napoli in Brookside for the sit-down chat.

Steve:
Jim Rowland, why did you choose pick Bela Napoli for this interview?

Rowland:
It's vintage Brookside, locally owned. I know the owner - actually did the ribbon cutting for this store when I was a council person. It's a place that really has a sense of the community: People walk here, bike here, drive here. It's a perfect sense of Brookside.

Steve:
For the past few years, you've been working on the other side of town. How would you say your experience at running the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority adds to your qualifications for mayor?

Rowland:
Certainly, it was a 700 million dollar project /actually two to three projects/ very complex with state involvement, county involvement, city involvement. Lots of complexity to it, and we pulled it off and /you know/ lots and lots of partners brought it in on time and on budget and with no drama. Really, it came in very... a direct opposite of everything that's been going on at City Hall the last four years.

Steve;
If you are elected mayor, what would be your top priority?

Rowland:
The... the single largest priority is jobs, because we find ourselves in an economy that's so unstable for lots and lots of people, so jobs is the highest priority. I think you change that by changing the climate at City Hall. For all practical purposes, Mark and the council created a toxic environment for businesses both large and small, and shut down any type of business creation that we have in the city. So changing the terms, saying we're open for business would be the first thing. Engaging the business community, both large and small - because I think small businesses like Bela Napoli are the economic engine of our community.

Steve:
How do you do that?

Rowland:
You know, partnering with, you know, the foundations, the not for profits, you know the Kauffman Foundation, which has an incredible entrepreneurial center... you know, the colleges and universities in our town... so there are lots of ways that we can engage the business community creatively and in an innovative way to... to jump start business here.

Steve
What does that mean... partnering?

Rowland:
Well, partnering is talking with people. Maybe not calling them names. That might be a start. Uhh. But certainly engagement... I talked about engagement earlier... engaging the business community... asking the question... and I would do this every week in my office, the mayor's office... we'd meet with business leaders large and small, "What are we doing, how are we doing it, what can we do better?" And I think that ongoing engaged dialog will answer lots and lots of the questions that we have.

Steve:
If I recall correctly, when you were on the council, some people said Jim Rowland was somewhat of a maverick.

Rowland:
Well, I think that can be a good thing. I think, you know, I was a maverick in the way that I was thinking about things differently. Fory, you know, I think it was five different elections different folks tried to get curbside started in the city. And I came up with a marvelous idea that said, "Well, why don't we do it this way?" which was completely different... a way that no one had thought about. And in the end I persuaded my council colleagues to endorse that concept, and then, you know, we have curbside recycling as a result of that.

Steve:
Tell us about Jim Rowland. When he's not running for mayor or running the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority, what's he like? Who is Jim Rowland.

Rowland.
I'm a husband and father first and foremost. I've been a coach for 27 years. I've coached youth baseball forever. My dad coached baseball for forty years, and it was something... a love of baseball that he passed on to me that I think I passed on to my boys as well. It's been one of the joys of my life. I had the opportunity to teach in the inner city as well. I taught at the University Academy, and certainly that was an incredible experience and something that changed my life in a lot of different ways.

Steve
Why do you think people should vote for you. Why should people vote for Jim Rowland for mayor of Kansas City.

Rowland:
You know I think...uh... I would bring a certain degree of professionalism. I have a degree in business, I spent 15 years in business. Uh... two terms on the council. Coming off of a $700 million construction project that was, you know, brought in on time and on budget. I consider myself a good professional person that would, you know, build a consensus and build the kind of coalition - both inside city hall and outside city hall to move, you know, on a... on an agenda that talks about building a great city.

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