KCUR News
5:45 pm
Wed March 9, 2011

Mayor Hopefuls Emerge as Own Men

KANSAS CITY, MO. – No longer do Kansas City's two mayoral candidates appear to be virtual clones on issues facing the city. Clear definitions surfaced during a debate before the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and The Kansas City Business Journal.

On the mid town hot button issue of the Highwoods Properties high rise in the Country Club Plaza, James would mediate between those who want it and those who don't, fearing loss of jobs to Kansas.

Burke said the jobs to Kansas issue is important to him, but he's against the Polsinelli Law building where planned--"I will work with Polsinelli, work with Highwoods, make sure those jobs stay in Kansas City, but I respect the Plaza Plan."

James would meet, listen and mediate on such issues as joining some police and city services in areas of insurance and fleet maintenance. Burke would merge them because he said savings of as much as two million dollars makes complete sense. As Burke put it, " Do it." Consolidating some of the police department with city services, to James, is a negotiation process. In his words, " I think we're going to have an opportunity to address those things when we start looking for our new Police Chief. That ought to be part of the hiring conversation, part of the decision making process."

The pair disagree on transit issues.

James likes streetcars and regional commuter rail. To James, "I want something that's iconic unique to Kansas City. Or at least more unique than what we have now. Something that when people are from out of town they'll say, Wow, that was really neat, I hadn't seen that."

Burke favors rapid transit buses as the best people-moving system. He says it doesn't take years to put in place--"They achieve what we really need to do. And that's get people to their jobs. And for employers to get people who can afford to get to jobs."

And the two candidates are far apart on managing city government.

Burke would make one of his first orders of business giving the Acting City Manager the full title and proceed with business. James said he would wait for the new City Council to be seated and make the decision a group process.

The general election is March 22nd.