Your mayoral options: Burke, Funk, or Sly

You say you want improved transit in Kansas City? Well, your slate of mayoral candidates has finally let it slip where they stand. The bad news is that you don’t have very many options.

Steve Kraske reports on Prime Buzz that only Mike Burke, incumbent Mark Funkhouser, and Sly James have made any positive comments about transit — light rail, specifically — in recent interviews and candidate forums.

Unfortunately, one of the three (Funk) has a miserable record and nothing to show for having had transit on his list of priorities for his entire first term… including the failed 2008 vote for the starter line to replace Clay Chastain’s winning 2006 petition initiative (which was the catalyst for this blog). Coincidentally, Chastain announced this week that he’s “moving back to KC” to run a write-in campaign for mayor. We can safely predict this will go nowhere.

The remaining two pro-transit candidates are capable of occupying the city’s top elected position, but need to provide more detail about their plans for transit, including whether they support Mike Sanders’ regional rapid rail concept.

Other candidates offer the same tired excuses — variations on the “we can’t afford it” theme — but:

  • Reality #1 is that the city is still spending money on the exact same things it spent money on before the recession, just less on each item (including transit).
  • Reality #2 is that the big price tags for major transit improvements always come with matching federal dollars — otherwise, they just don’t happen. The feds tell you early on whether you’ll have a chance at getting any money, which was a major sticking point for some voters with the 2008 plan (the vote was held far too early in the federal planning process).
  • Reality #3 is that capital and operating expenses must come from a new, dedicated tax. That means it will not affect the city’s general fund or debt capacity (KCATA can issue its own debt, especially if it has the revenue from a new tax).

The mayoral and council primary is Feb. 22 and the election is March 22.

On a side note, you may have noticed that the site has been quiet lately and even has a new name: We’re broadening the scope of the blog to include all modes of transportation in the region. The change will be accompanied by a complete redesign, the addition of a mobile presence, and more social media integration. Stay tuned for more details!


3 Comments so far

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by KCBike.Info, said: New blog post: Your 2011 mayoral options [...]

  2. Northlander January 3rd, 2011 3:34 am

    Well if the city made the police and fire dept. pay more into their retirement fund the city could use part of that for transit. Let’s face it Kansas City covers to much ground to have a good system without going broke. When gas gets to high more people will move closer in to town,to be near their jobs. Until the city stops the outward movement transit won’t change much. Look at the plans they had for the northland with the bike paths,when roads were built no room for bike paths.So why do they build a extra bike lane for the Heart Of America bridge with no bike lanes to it?

    prove much.

  3. Jared January 14th, 2011 5:55 pm

    Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri. The 2nd largest city is St. Louis. I have visited St. Louis and I found it convenient that I was able to access their light-rail system.

    Instead of paying a cab $18.00 to drive from P&L district south to WestPort (or north to Harrah’s Casino), how about $2.50 to get to either location.

    Yes, we were hit by a recession that hurt the govt, people, and business. But what better opportunity to build a reliable means of transportation that covers a majority of the KC Metro. $2.50 for college students to ride from Liberty to UMKC, or business men & women from Overland Park to Downtown KC. And it will have a positive affect on the enviroment as well.

    See if the FTA can grant our state department of transportation, and have it approve for KCATA. If we come up short, we’ll have to have it funded by the local citizens.

    Agree or disagree, but a light-rail system for Kansas City would be beneficial.