Mayor Sly James delivered his state of the city address Monday to around 400 high school students at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Part of the Mayor's message involved teens and raucous crowds on the Plaza and at the Zoo. James says young people are a strategic investment.
“It’s clear to me that young people need to have some level of guidance. They need good role models. They need solid direction. They need hope," said James. "They need a quality education and they need to know somebody out there gives a damn about them."
James pointed to programs aimed at getting more kids reading by third grade and efforts to keep teens off the streets with dances and other activities, but he said the city can’t be a baby sitter.
James also touched on the high crime rate in the city and called for stricter gun regulations. He noted 90 people died last year as a result of guns and said a one size fits all approach doesn’t work.
“What’s good for rural Missouri, does not necessarily work for urban Kansas City and St. Louis,” he told the crowd.
James specifically backed a bill in the Missouri House that would require people to report lost or stolen guns and get to get a background check before purchasing a gun.
James also celebrated the city, plugging the city’s recent economic development record. He applauded Kansas City’s startups and creative economies, and said the fixation on border war is short sighted.
“I know it’s great political theater to act like the Kansans are throwing grenades across state line and we’re lobbing them back and we’re both sending secret service agents back and forth," he said. "But the fact of the matter is we’re kicking some butt around here and we’re taking some names."
He said there is evidence the city is moving forward with the development of a grocery store in the urban core at 39th and Prospect and the planned Cerner campus at the Bannister Mall site.