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Kansas City voting guide: Who and what to expect in the April 2023 election

Election workers unrolling "I Voted" stickers at Northland Cathedral in North Kansas City, Missouri, on Aug. 2, 2022.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
During the April 4 primary, Kansas City voters will determine which City Council candidates will move on to the general election.

Three dozen candidates are vying for a seat on the City Council. But first, they have to get through the April primaries.

All 12 of Kansas City’s council seats and the mayor’s office will be up for election in the April 4th primary.

Three dozen candidates are running for the open city council seats, with seven current council members seeking re-election. Candidates running for “in-district” seats are elected by the voters living in that district. All Kansas City voters have a say in who gets elected to the six “at-large” seats.

April 4 will serve as the primary election — the two candidates with the most votes in each race will move on to the general election on June 20.

If you live in the Kansas City area of Jackson County, you can check your sample ballot here. If you live in the Kansas City portion of Clay County, you can check your sample ballot here.

Here are the candidates running for local office, as reflected in the sample ballots from the Kansas City-area election authorities:


Quinton Lucas is running for a second term against Clay Chastain.


1st District

  • Chris Gahagan: Gahagan is a Northland resident who has served on the Clay County Constitutional Charter Commission since 2020. The commission  created a Clay County Constitution, which 80% of voters approved. 
  • Nathan Willett: Willett is currently a math teacher for the Park Hill School District. He previously taught at Kansas City Public Schools. 

2nd District

  • Wesley Rogers: Rogers served as a Democrat in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2019 to 2023. He represented District 18, which includes a portion of Kansas City’s Northland. 

3rd District

  • Melissa Robinson, incumbent: Robinson is running for her second term. She recently sponsored legislation supporting a commission to explore reparations for Black Kansas Citians. Previously, she was the Director of Crisis Intervention with the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime.
  • Sheri Hall: Hall is a local poet and was named the Female Spoken Word artist of the year at the 2020 National Spoken Word Awards. 

4th District

  • Eric Bunch, incumbent: Bunch is running for his second term. Recently, he’s supported legislative reform for Kansas City’s short-term rental program. He is a co-founder of BikeWalkKC.
  • Crissy Dastrup: Dastrup founded the local nonprofit Troost Market Collective and currently serves as a board chair, and is vice president of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association. For two years, Dastrup served as the legislative aide to Eric Bunch, the current 4th District Councilman. 
  • Henry Rizzo: Rizzo served as a Missouri state representative from 1985 to 2003 and then served on the Jackson County Legislature until 2006. 

5th District

  • Ryana Parks-Shaw, incumbent: Parks-Shaw is running for her second term. She serves on City Hall’s Houseless Task Force and helped develop a plan for the city to end homelessness. 

6th District

  • Cecelia Carter: Carter currently serves on multiple boards, including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City, the Children’s Mercy Hospital Foundation and the Kansas City Employees Retirement System.
  • Dan Tarwater: Tarwater has served on the Jackson County Legislature since 1994. 
  • Johnathan Duncan: Duncan is an Iraq War veteran and a leader with KC Tenants, the citywide tenants' union. Duncan is endorsed by KC Tenants Power, the political lobbying arm of citywide tenant union KC Tenants.
  • Michael Schuckman: Schuckman grew up in Lee’s Summit and currently works for the Kansas City Water Services Department.
  • Tiffany Moore: Moore is co-chair of the Kansas City Neighborhood Advisory Council, which works with the Kansas City government to represent the interests of neighborhoods.

At-large seats

1st District-at-Large

  • Kevin O’Neill, incumbent: O’Neill is seeking his second term, and is a supporter of unions and labor rights in Kansas City’s Northland. For nearly 30 years, he was the publisher and editor of the Kansas City Labor Beacon. 
  • Pam Mason: Mason served as a Clay County Presiding Commissioner, and before that was the county clerk. She and her husband, who was the county auditor, were sued for building a wall in the courthouse without approval in 2006.
  • Ronda Smith: Smith previously worked in the real estate industry and now works for a real estate management firm. Her husband is a retired Kansas City police officer. 

2nd District-at-Large

  • Jenay Manley: Born and raised in the Northland, Manley is a leader with KC Tenants, the citywide tenant union. Manley is endorsed by KC Tenants Power, the political lobbying arm of citywide tenant union KC Tenants.
  • Lindsay French: French is a business owner and also lead designer at TJP Strategies, a consulting firm. 
  • Mickey Younghanz: Younghanz ran for a seat in the Missouri State Senate in 2020 but lost. 

3rd District-at-Large

  • Brandon Ellington, incumbent: Ellington is running for his second term. Before City Council, he served in the Missouri House of Representatives as a Democrat for eight years representing District 22.
  • Melissa Patterson Hazley: Patterson Hazley is a small business owner. She serves on several boards and commissions focused on economic development.

4th District-at-Large

  • Crispin Rea: Rea spent seven years in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, primarily in the Special Victims Unit. He was also a caseworker with the Kansas City No Violence Alliance. 
  • Grace Cabrera: Cabrera is a Cuban immigrant whose family left the country during Fidel Castro’s regime, and has likened the United States’ political and media environment to the socialist policies her family fled.
  • Jessica Blubaugh: Blubaugh grew up in Manhattan, Kansas, and serves as the Chief Philanthropy Officer of the United Way of Greater Kansas City. She is also a member of and advocate for Kansas City’s LGBTQ community. 
  • John DiCapo: DiCapo’s family has owned Italian Gardens Pizzeria in Kansas City since the 1920s. 
  • Justin Short: Short grew up in the Northland and now lives downtown. He represents the 4th district on the LGBTQ Commission. 

5th District-at-Large

  • Darrell Curls: Curls is a member of the South Kansas City Alliance and was previously president of the Hickman Mills School Board. 
  • Michael Kelley: Kelley is the policy director of BikeWalkKC and a member of the Environmental Management Commission. 
  • Theresa Cass Galvin: Galvin recently served on the Jackson County Legislature. Last year, Galvin lost her race for the County Executive seat to Frank White.  

6th District-at-Large

  • Andrea Bough, incumbent: Bough is seeking a second term. She is a licensed attorney with experience in commercial real estate, land use and development. 
  • Jill Sasse: Sasse is a former public school teacher. 
  • Mary Nestel: Nestel is the owner of Nestel Insurance Agency.

Other ballot questions

  • Marijuana tax: This proposes a 3% local sales tax on purchases on non-medicinal marijuana. Kansas City residents who live in Jackson County will also vote on whether to establish a countywide 3% sales tax on marijuana. 
  • Short-term rental tax: This proposes a 7.5% tax on short-term rentals in Kansas City.
  • Occupancy fee: This proposes increasing the current occupancy fee for hotels and motels from $1.50 per night to $3, and requiring short-term rentals to pay the fee. 

What to know to vote

The last day to register to vote in time for the April 4th election is March 8th. Because of new Missouri law, you must show a valid government-issued photo ID at the polls. Accepted IDs include a Missouri driver’s license, U.S. passport or a veteran’s ID card.

You can check the status of your voter registration on the Kansas City Election Board website or the Missouri Secretary of State website.

Corrected: January 26, 2023 at 5:01 PM CST
This story was updated to remove candidates on the Missouri Elections Commission list who did not file candidate declaration forms with their local election authority, and to correct two candidates' relationships with KC Tenants and its political lobbying arm.
As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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