There's an important election happening in Kansas City this weekend that will directly affect the future of southern streetcar extension. If you didn't know about it until now, you're probably not alone.
It's the second step in a complicated, three-election process that must be completed before any work on expansion can begin.
The first step was a mail-in election this summer. More than 70 percent of voters approved the boundaries of a Transportation Development District, or TDD. That's a special taxing district that would serve as a major funding mechanism for the streetcar. A map of the proposed taxing district is available here. People living inside that district would be on the hook for a special property assessment.
Saturday's election will determine the seven people who will serve as directors for the TDD. A third and final vote by TDD residents would be required to actually approve any taxes proposed by the newly elected board.
(Efforts to further extend the streetcar were complicated when Kansas City voters narrowly approved a ballot question in August that could prohibit the city from promoting streetcar extension without a citywide vote. But the impact of that vote on current efforts is unclear, and the City Council has not yet decided how and whether to implement the measure.)
Some of the 19 candidates on Saturday's ballot support streetcar expansion and special property tax assessments to pay for it; others oppose extension or have concerns about the approval and funding processes being used. The election is limited to the 30,000 registered voters who live within the boundaries of the TDD — roughly between the Missouri River and 53rd street, and State Line Road and Campbell.
If that's you, here are some things you should know:
First, the election is Saturday, Oct. 7, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Second, you'll be voting at a different polling place than usual. Check the polling place list at the Kansas City Election Board website or give them a call at 816-842-4820.
You'll be asked to vote for up to seven candidates. Here's a list of who's on the ballot and what we've been able to learn about where they stand on streetcar expansion:
Endorsed by Connect KC, which supports streetcar expansion and led efforts to establish the TDD:
- David Johnson
- Cindy Circo
- Jeff Krum
- Ruben Alonso III
- Jan Marcason
- Crissy Dastrup
- Leonard J. Graham
Other supporters of streetcar expansion, as confirmed by interviews with KCUR:
- Timothy Zook
- Tyler Watt
- William D. Farrar
- Quinton Lowry Shaw
- Timothy Jury
- Brendan Waters
- Jesse Whidden
- Dane Mehringer
Endorsed by SMART KC, which opposes streetcar expansion and opposed the creation of the TDD:
- Ted Derks
- Greg Allen
- Linda Hart Tabory
- Steve McCandless
Now, go vote!
This post was updated at 9:55 a.m. on Friday, October 6, to include SMART KC's endorsement of Ted Derks, and at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 7, following an email response from Brendan Waters.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig.