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Kansas City, Kansas, mayor shares goals and frustrations two months into his term

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Carlos Moreno
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KCUR 89.3
Tyrone Garner was elected the first Black mayor of Kansas City, Kansas in November, 2021.

CEO and Mayor Tyrone Garner discusses corruption within the police department, redistricting, taxes and infrastructure.

Tyrone Garner, former Kansas City, Kansas Deputy police chief was sworn in as mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, on December 13, 2021.

When asked about the on-going federal investigation into misconduct by the city's police department from which he retired in 2019, Mayor Garner provided few details

The KCKPD is under a federal investigation stemming from allegations of decades of abuse and corruption at the hands of law enforcement officers. As an internal affairs officer, Garner said at times he was responsible for investigating and disciplining officers for misconduct.

"There were a lot of troubling things that came as a result of those complaints and investigations, and I forwarded that information to the law enforcement leadership at that time, and a lot of officers were held accountable," Garner said.

The retired police officer said he doesn't believe police should investigate themselves and welcomes an outside investigation of any public officials within the Unified Government. Garner also said it will take a "collaborative effort" to ensure proper and responsible policing.

The mayor's jurisdiction has also been in the spotlight over the makeup of congressional boundaries that will split the county into two districts.

Most of the residents opposed the map, according to the mayor.

"We see no benefit," Garner said of having two representatives. "We've got to stay unified not just as a government, but as a community."

Mayor Garner said there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to lowering taxes and economic development in the county.

The county administrator is conducting a county-wide review to offer solutions to better reduce the tax burden, he said.

"We need to broaden our tax base. We need housing, housing that's just not affordable, but affordable housing and all income levels," the mayor said.

Kansas is approved for $3 billion dollars from the president's infrastructure bill, but Garner pointed out the unified government is still waiting to learn how much Wyandotte will receive so they can prioritize the infrastructure needs of the county.

Mayor Garner said he's looking forward to personally hearing concerns from constituents in Wyandotte County.

"I'm excited about having the upcoming Mayor Tyrone Tuesdays where anybody can have a one-on-one session with me, let me know what their issues are, good, bad or indifferent. We just want to hear from the public," Mayor Garner said.

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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz