In less than a week, Kansas City, Missouri voters will go to the polls to decide on the makeup of their next City Council.
One of the most closely-competitive races is for the the Northland's 2nd District At-large seat now held by Ed Ford, who is not seeking re-election because of term limits.
Running for the 2nd District seat is Teresa Loar, former two-term City Council member and two-term member of the North Kansas City School Board, who says she has lived in the northland for almost 50 years.
Loar is running against Jay Hodges, who served as senior adviser for economic development and public safety in Mayor Sly James’ administration. He describes himself as socially progressive and fiscally conservative.
Both joined Up To Date host Steve Kraske at the KCUR studios to discuss some of the city's most pressing issues.
Here are some highlights from the debate. You can listen to the entire debate here.
On streetcar expansion
I think we take a wait and see right now. Let’s get the streetcar plan finished as it is right now let’s have the taxpayers take a look, and see what they think. If this is something they want to pursue and go forward with, then we do so but I think it needs to be consensus by the citizens of the city.
I think this is the exact reason why TDD's (Transportation districts) are so perfect. That's how were currently funding the development of the streetcar. If you live adjacent to it, that's who's paying the bill on it along with some federal matching monies... I think that's why its the perfect development tool because it allows the citizens in an area to say this is something that we value something that we want, and we will pay for it. ... I think its going to be a great thing, and we've already seen its impact in the downtown area. I think you go ahead and move ahead. That last vote failed in the area that it was drawn up in, but it passed through Brookside/Waldo in huge numbers, I think south Kansas City wants it very badly. I think we go ahead and hold another vote, redesign the district and let those people have it because they voted for it and they're willing to take it on.
With those TDD's you have areas that can’t afford more taxes, areas where people are on fixed incomes. That's why it didn't pass in the east side, because those folks can't afford anymore taxes, and where is that transportation needed the most but on the east side? That’s where people don't have transportation to get to work or get downtown. [I would] put it to a vote to the entire city. The city has to vote on it entirely... It would have to be a city tax as a whole.
On the future of KCI Airport
I'm very opposed to tearing down the airport and replacing it. I haven’t heard or seen anything saying that our airport is not secure and safe. I think there's lots of redesign and redevelopment we need to do with it. But the building's barely fifty years old, why would we tear it down and rebuild it?
I actually want to see what this commission comes out with. The Mayor appointed a commission and they did a study on it and they said something needs to be done. It was handed off to a second group that is a group that is between the Feds and the airlines and the aviation department itself... Here's my thing, there's $650 million in deferred maintenance right now, that’s $650 million we would have to bond over 20 years and that's going to get us about 13-15 years, which means that for at least five years were going to be paying debt service and be deciding what we're going to do already. And that may be the smart choice. But if they come out and say, ‘Look, we can build a brand new airport we can get another 50 years out of it and it’s only going to cost $700 million,’ then in my head we've got a different decision to make, and we've got to be able to have that discussion.
It may be the smarter thing to do, and it may not….in the long term it may be smarter for us fiscally, where money is cheap right now, labor is inexpensive right now, we can actually set out and make a better decision for this city. Until this group actually comes out and says this is what we want to do, there’s really not much to discuss because it’s all speculation.
On development on Kansas City’s east side and the planned grocery store at 31st and Prospect
We need a lot more development on the east part of the city. In the scheme of things, [the $12 million grocery store] is not too much money. Its a blighted area over there and a food desert so people don't have anywhere to go to shop… so I think it was well needed and I think a lot of good growth and development in that area is starting to come on the line but I think we need to continue.
What it’s going to mean to that area in particular makes every dollar worth it. It just does. Its a food desert and what that means more than anything else is you've got families that don't have any place to go so they're buying bags of Doritos as opposed to buying fruits and vegetables and those kinds of things. It impacts kids’ healthy lifestyles... East of Troost, these kinds of strategic developments really have more of an impact on lifestyle than I think people realize. They provide jobs, and they give some things like that, but mostly it’s being able to help families with very simple things, that quite honestly a lot of times we just take for granted.