Saturday, March 12, 2011

South Kansas City Candidate Forum

The candidates--from left, Burke, James, Taylor, Ward, Nash and Sharp. The lady in the back is the moderator.

The crowd: Mostly white, and mostly over 55, with a substantial portion over 65. Probably around 100 or so.

A pretty good crowd of folks came out to see the mayoral candidates and 6th District city council candidates today at a forum held at the Red Bridge Christian Church this afternoon. It wasn't especially dynamic or head line making as forums go.

Questions were submitted from the audience and by and large they weren't too bad. This not being a debate format though but a forum, aside from a brief clash between Terrance Nash and John Sharp over time for the opening statements, the candidates did not confront or challenge each other. Too bad, for that might have been truly interesting. Truthfully, I am fishing for things to report that are actually noteworthy, that might help the reader who is planning to vote in this election. Stuff beyond style, or the fact that half of the panel left to go hang out with the swells in the 4th at 2 pm.

It is hard to pick out differences between Sly James and Mike Burke--part of the problem is they only stayed about 30 minutes and could only answer a few questions. Burke points a lot to his experience. In their short opening statements James emphasized working together, Burke talked about experience. When asked about caring for the toxic Bannister Road site, Burke noted his experience reclaiming Richards-Gebaur. Both spoke well of the "Focus Plan", a plan for development that Burke helped develop. A question was asked regarding changes at Kansas City International airport. Both Burke and James stated that these changes were FAA mandated and there would be little choice but to go to a single terminal.

Scott Taylor truly is an empty suit. Much of the time he sounded like Mike Burke, but without the cred. He sites his school board service as his big experience. He too left at 2 pm for Brookside, and consequently left not much of a unique impression. Tracy Ward is still very raw in the skills of a politician. Her answers were frequently the shortest of all the candidates. She sees herself as representing the common person at City Hall. One of her positions is that there are too many barriers to business development in the city, including the E Tax. She believes that if the E Tax is removed, tax revenue will go up as a result of more businesses (and thus jobs, etc) coming to KC. She later described herself as an "out of the box thinker" and told us to hold her accountable if elected.

John Sharp is a practical politician. He majors on what he's "done". In many ways, Sharp is very appealing. However, one just wonders who he is really working for--Kansas City or John Sharp. He will be tough to defeat, as he has a large list of "accomplishments" and knows how to handle himself around the crowds. Terrance Nash says that business has gotten too many tax breaks and subsidies and money needs to be directed to the neighborhoods. He is the only one who did not answer a question directly--when asked what he would do about foreclosed houses, he blathered on about neighborhoods not getting "the city services they paid for." It made him come off like a one trick pony.
I wish we could have a debate type format, but with this campaign so concentrated, it would be hard on candidates to find the emotional capital to expend on debates. Debates would take a lot more preparation on the part of the candidates and more investment in the event itself. An event like this is good, but it's harder to assess the candidates' reasoning behind their words. I do wish that Sly James, Mike Burke and Scott Taylor had stayed longer too. I feel like I know far more about Tracy Ward, Terrance Nash and John Sharp then about them, especially Taylor. It will be interesting to see where the election is won and/or lost--in the northland, in the third and fifth, in Brookside/Waldo or in the fighting 6th District?


Anonymous said...

John Sharp is nothing more than a career politician. What are his accomplishments in the sixth district? What has he done to help the neighborhoods? He used PIAC funds to put a wrought iron fence around Ruskin High School while neighborhoods are still fighting flooding basements. He sees nothing wrong with subsidizing the P&L District to the tune $15M while saying there's no money to fix Blue River Road. The Wizards had barely made their announcement about moving to KS when Sharp was in Jeff City lobbying for the downtown hotel.

If you check his financial disclosure reports you'll see who he's actually working for.

Anonymous said...

The people who want your money are bribing Sharp to do their work. It's all there in the disclosure reports as 4:02PM says.

Nash owes nothing to the political class or I call them leaches on society. He has advocated for "the rest of us" for many years and I will vote for him enthusiastically.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one questioning Scott Taylor's cache. It seems what little he proposes has already been proposed by his opponent.

Anonymous said...

You are member of a very small group, South Kansas City Observer: our local media. So, why don't you contact the 6th district candidates and interview them?

Then write it up on your blog.

Anonymous said...

I went to one of the forums and was unimpressed with J. Sharp's cocky answers. He seemed determined to put down Nash. The sad thing is, all of the incumbents have background to draw from. Those running against them don't, except for Scott Taylor. Tracy Ward may be a little raw, but I find it refreshing. Everybody else sounded the same, except the gal running for 1st district. Even Charlie Angel has his heart in the right place. For me that's all it takes. Career politicians haven't done a lot except make names for themselves. I'm voting for the new guys and wish them luck in their campaigns.

Anonymous said...

John Sharp may be involved in everything in K.C., but his misuse of PIAC money is wrong. The reasons behind that fence around Ruskin was wrong. The needs of the people in SKC should be addressed. Money should not be used by John Sharp for grandstanding projects to make a name for himself. He's made a name alright. For me it's MUD.

Anonymous said...

I attended both of the forums that were held in SKC. It seemed like Sharp took every opportunity he could to voice some put down of Nash. Maybe that's because Sharp knows Nash is on the right track, but he can't change his stance because he owes too many people.

Groucho K. Marx said...

Good post T.O....

May I use your photos to promote this post on CSW?

(Unlike Citizens ASSociation- at least I ask first ;) ).

What's shocking (not) about your crowd photo is that THIOSE are the folks who'll get out and vote- the folks who'll tend to go with a candidate they already know and the very folks who'll vote to continue the Earnings Tax too...

The're the ones who are worried that their property taxes will soar and that they MAY be taxed out of their homes as a result.

I am NOT convinced the pollys won't raise the property tax regardless if the E-tax is kept in or not.

Especially if the likes of John Sharp is re-elected...

Peace be with you-

the observer said...

Thanks for the comment thread folks!

Sharp and Nash were the most contentious of all the candidates with each other--they do not like each other!

Just one more week to consider--at this time next week the returns will be starting to come in!

Thanks everyone!

The Observer

Anonymous said...

There is a new wordpress blog all about John Sharp and his personal history. Voters should have a look before next Tuesday's election. I didn't know about any of this!