Kansas Citians Share Health And Safety Priorities For 2021 During Webinar With Elected Officials
The virtual discussion also included a presentation from Mayor Quinton Lucas about ways to engage elected officials in residents' policy priorities.
Kansas Citians had an opportunity to learn how the city council works during two virtual sessions today hosted by Councilwoman Melissa Robinson and joined by Mayor Quinton Lucas along with Councilwoman Katheryn Shields.
The meetings included a discussion about progress made in 2020 and priorities for residents in the new year.
“We have to make sure that we're doing activities at the right time, with the right amount of pressures in order to move things forward,” Robinson said.
Robinson, who represents the 3rd District, highlighted a council committee’s support for local control of the police department and an effort to get a data dashboard on absentee landlord issues.
She also gathered input on the changes community members wanted to see in health access, safety, housing and economic development. Ideas ran the gamut from upgrading traffic signals to giving each neighborhood $50,000 to invest in projects like a new park.
Shanita McAfee-Bryant, a chef and founder of The Prospect: An Urban Eatery, said she wants more accountability for food programs receiving city funding to ensure they’re delivering nutritional meals and suggested organizing a meeting between resource providers that serve the third district.
“Especially in my specific area of food access, everybody works in their silo,” she said. “No one is collaborating with each other. And I think that we would have a greater impact if we collaborated.”
Kimberly Randolph raised the issue of access to health care and the challenge of getting to an urgent care clinic if it closes around 5 p.m.
“I had a couple of calls from folks asking, 'Were there any urgent cares in the third district or any clinics that stayed open past the traditional hours?'” Randolph said.
Rev. Ester Holzendorf said she wants to see more police officers involved in community activities.
“They need to look like the community,” Holzendorf said. “They need to be a part of the community, not just coming in to slam people down on the ground, across cars and put handcuffs on them.”
Lucas gave a behind the scenes look at how he pushes his priorities through city hall during a skill-building session with constituents aimed at helping 3rd District residents effectively lobby the city council, explaining that he first identifies an issue, figures out the emotional pull of the topic and then starts to build allies.
“A lot of times people think there's this kind of conspiracy or an invisible hand that runs things at city hall. I'm looking to meet it at some point,” Lucas joked. “It really is just having the ability to leverage your allies, your emotions and your issues.”
Lucas said “knowing the game” involves figuring out which committee will handle the ordinance and what’s on the agenda during a committee meeting. If a committee has a lot to do or there are more controversial issues under consideration, your measure may get less scrutiny.
“You know how we are as human beings, we can only handle so many controversies at once,” Lucas said.
Robinson will host another 3rd District community meeting on Jan. 11, 2021, at 6 p.m. Residents can submit suggestions for action items to through an online form.