Your Guide To Kansas City, Missouri's August 2017 Election

Aug 7, 2017

Kansas City, Missouri, voters have three questions on the Aug. 8 ballot.
Credit K. Latham / Flickr — CC

Updated, Tuesday, 2:21 p.m.  

Streetcar extensions. Minimum wage hikes. Clay Chastain's latest light rail plan. It's okay, we're also feeling a little déjà vu over the issues on Kansas City's Tuesday, Aug. 8, ballot.

Kansas City, Missouri, residents will decide on three questions, two involving the future of the streetcar and light rail and one that would, at least symbolically, raise the minimum wage.

Here's your quick and dirty guide to the issues at stake:

First things first

Missouri now requires ID for residents to cast ballots in elections. If you're not sure whether you're good on that front, check out this post by KCUR's Elle Moxley and get all the details. 

Question 1 — Streetcar extension elections

If passed, this initiative petition question would prohibit city officials from moving forward with streetcar extensions (or any new rail transit systems) without citywide voter approval. 

The petition would, in effect, stop the current streetcar expansion from Union Station to UMKC in its, wait for it, tracks. And as KCUR's Lisa Rodriguez reports, there will likely be huge legal and political battles regardless of what happens with this question. 

Proponents say this will allow the entire city to have a say in the future of the streetcar, while opponents say it will unnecessarily hurt streetcar progress. 

Question 2 — Streetcar and light rail sales taxes

This question, also brought to the ballot by initiative petition, is the latest attempt by light rail activist Clay Chastain to construct a massive light rail project, form a fleet of electric buses and fund streetcar extensions.

If passed, two 3/8-of-a-cent sales taxes would be established for 25 years to fund the venture, which Chastain estimates will cost upwards of $1.2 billion. The plan would rely on federal infrastructure funds as well.

The petitioners who brought Question 1 to the ballot oppose this measure, but proponents of the streetcar system appear to be on board with it. When KCUR's C.J. Janovy talked with Chastain in July, details on the plan were scant.

Question 3 — Minimum wage hike

And last, but certainly not least, this initiative petition question would raise Kansas City, Missouri's minimum wage to $10 an hour on Aug. 24 and increase it annually starting in 2019 until it reaches $15 an hour by 2022. 

The Kansas City Council previously approved a minimum wage hike that would have ended up with a $13-an-hour minimum by 2023, but state lawmakers acted to block the increase from going above state minimums. 

But a group of advocates, clergy and lawmakers called Raise Up Missouri announced Tuesday that they will push for a statewide ballot initiative raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. If they're successful in getting enough signatures, the question could appear before voters in November 2018.

Cody Newill is the digital editor for KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill