Kansas Citians To Narrow Mayoral Field
February 22, 2011

Four years after Kansas City voters picked the former City Auditor to be Mayor, Kansas City voters make a preliminary decision today on the political future of Mark Funkhouser.

Funkhouser faces a field of five rivals. It’s an unusually large field of challengers for a sitting Kansas City Mayor.

The rivals were drawn into the race by a  Funkhouser term marked with controversy.

The role of his wife, Gloria Squitiro as an unpaid but very influential advisor, led to a series of lawsuits against the city costing more than a half million dollars. Funkhouser said repeatedly on the campaign trial Squitiro remains his political partner.

His first unsuccessful move to fire City Manager Wayne Cauthen triggered an angry backlash from some African-American leaders. Cauthen is black. He was fired later in the term when Funkhouser collected enough city council votes for his second effort to oust him.

He angered Latinos when he placed a vigorous opponent of illegal immigration on the City’s Parks Board. Frances Semler later stepped down 

Funkhouser narrowly survived a recall effort.

These events and others led to the wide field lined up against the incumbent.

Funkhouser campaigned this winter saying he had made tough decisions and put the city’s $1 billion dollar budget back into shape.  Critics, including campaign rival Deb Herman, said he didn’t do it alone. Hermann is the Chair of the Council’s Finance and Audit Committee.

Attorney Sly James raised the most money in the race, over  half million dollars. He stumped saying the City needs to stop arguing and start pulling together.

Another lawyer, former City Councilman Mike Burke asked voters to look at his long record of civic involvement, including two terms on the City Council. He also complained about Funkhouser’s leadership style. Just yesterday he told a forum he felt sorry for the current council members because they never got as chance to work in a City Hall where the Mayor, City Manager and Council were “in sync”.

Jackson County Sports Authority Director Jim Rowland was probably the most aggressive in his complaints about the mayor. He accused him of creating a “toxic” environment for business.

He also said the Mayor and City Council kicked voters when they were down by raising taxes in the form of water and sewer bill increases.

Monday, Funkhouser shot back at Rowland telling him, if the Council Rowland was on had dealt with the problem, the City’s sewer and storm drains would not be in such poor shape.

Another challenger, Henry Klein said City Hall needed to be run more like a business than typical government.

Kansas City voters today will pick two of the field to advance to the March 22 run-off.

The race feels very close. Funkhouser, however,  has some history on his side. Kansas City voters have not rejected an incumbent mayor seeking re-election in more than 80 years.

KC Mayor’s Race: More Endorsements at Tuesday Primary Approaches
February 18, 2011

Jackson County Sports Authority Director Jim Rowland has been endorsed by for Mayor by La Raza, the city’s largest  Hispanic group.

Hispanics are one of the fastest growing  populations in the city. When US Census figures for Kansas City are released soon, the Latino population is expected to show dramatic group.

In its endorsement, La Raza said the group’s top issues are job creation and fighting crime.

But it also mentioned it wants a mayor that would not make “appointments to boards and commissions that includes giving Consideration Only to Persons without ties to Nativist and Racist Groups,”.

That’s a reference to the Frances Semler Parks Board appointment early in incumbent Mayor Mark Funkhouser’s term. Semler belonged to a anti-illegal immigration group. That connection infuriated local Latino leaders.

Here’s the entire La Raza slate:  

Mayor: Jim Rowland

1st District At-Large: Scott Wagner

2nd District In-District Russ Johnson

4th District At Large: John Crawford

6th District At Large: Scott Taylor

6th District At Large: John Sharp

Also, The Kansas City Business Rights Coalition, which is made of of about 200 owners of the city’s bars and restaurants,  is backing Sly James for mayor.

The Coalition screened the candidates recently. A statement said they are supporting James because of “his ability to work cooperatively with the elected city council and his plan to get Kansas City back on track.”

KC Mayor’s Race: Rowland Goes on TV
February 15, 2011

Hermann Leads in Campaign Cash for the Stretch
February 15, 2011

Kansas City Mayoral Candidate Deb Hermann has the most cash on hand as the final week of the Kansas City mayor’s race begins.

The Kansas City primary is a week from today, Feb. 22.

Hermann has used some of the $251, 546 she has raised for the campaign on a her first TV commercial (see previous post).

Here are the ‘standings” based on the cash on hand for the final week and the total the candidates have raised.

Hermann: Cash-$58,811 (#1); raised: $252,546

Sly James: Cash-$30,971; raised: $547, 983 (#1)

Mark Funkhouser: Cash-$21,385; raised: $102,861

Mike Burke: Cash-$19,889; raised: $221, 727

Jim Rowland: Cash-$9,938; raised: $152,566

Henry Klein: Cash-$3565; raised: $14,900

Charles Wheeler: Cash- $150; raised: $725

KC Mayor’s Race Update: TV Air Wars About to Begin
February 11, 2011

‘The Source’ reports on the media buys for the  contenders for mayor. It does not include any money from incumbent Mayor Mark Funkhouser:

“Rowland added $19k for a total $30k broadcast in the week of 2/14/2-21, with another $10k expected. Hermann has placed $80k to run from 2/14-2/21. Burke is spending $55k on broadcast, and James is spending $60k on cable.”


Burke: $55k

Hermann: $80k

James: $60k

Rowland: $30k, probably $40k