The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council elections are fast approaching, and several of the races look to be closely contested.
One of those is in the 4th district, where former Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields is giving incumbent Jim Glover a spirited run.
Both Shields and Glover 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’re going to see in the next couple of years if that's a success. I think that if it is successful and that it brings in the economic development that everybody is talking about, then I think many other parts of the city are going to want it and are going to be willing to support it through their taxes.
People in Kansas City before they'll approve an extension want to kick the tires, they want to see how it works. We need to expand it, and we have good routes to expand it on, but one of the things that we've got to show is that it does increase development and if you look on the Main Street line, even without running, we have a lot of development along that Main Street line from the City Market all the way to Union Station and a lot of it isn't even announced but you can see some of it being built.
On the future of KCI airport
I think that you do not have to tear everything down and build new. First of all that's very costly. Those airports were built about the same time as the Truman Sports Complex and while I was [Jackson] County Executive, we went in and we rehabbed those two existing facilities ... We met all of their needs … and we did that at about less than a third of the cost of building two new stadiums.
I think that's the model we need to use at KCI. I think there is creative way to address the issues that are facing the airport and to do it without just tearing down and starting over. I think we need to update what we have. We need to modernize it, that's probably going to take some renovation and adjustment to the design. I don’t have all the answers, but I'm telling you that the solution is not to take a wrecking ball to every problem we have in this city.
The solution is to do what the city council is doing right now. We've had a citizen commission examine it, and they've given us a report back. Now since the new airport would be funded, not with Kansas City taxpayer dollars, but with revenue generated by the airlines, we've assembled the airlines that use the airport, and they're coming back to us with a recommendation of what they'd like to see the airport be.
There are serious problems with the airport, infrastructure problems, and sometimes if you just do a quick fix — it has been mentioned we could do maybe $300 million, but it would last five years and then we'd have to be faced with tearing it down too. Right now ... [in the terminals] the water leaks in when it rains, but it leaks in where the power grid is and staff has had to build canals around the power grid so the power grid doesn't get wet. I asked, 'Is that up to code?' and they looked at me and didn't answer. We have to face this issue.
On development in the northland vs. downtown
I believe in investment in the northland, one of the things this city has made a drastic mistake in the past is not investing in the northland for infrastructure … This new development will be a beautiful development, its called Twin Creeks it will be the Ward Parkway of the north, it will bring in a substantial amount of population and some people have told me that the net contribution to the general fund of this city will be $100 million a year. Now, I think that will be worth it for the city ... to bring it in.
I don't have any problem with investing in the city, I just think you don't do it at the far reaches of the city. The difference is the impact it has on your environment, the impact it has on your maintenance. The more miles and the further out the water and sewer lines you lay, the more it costs to maintain them and the more police you need to have to provide protection. I want to make sure that we're investing first in the center of the city.