Elections

File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Just because Kansas had an election a few months ago doesn’t mean people aren’t already thinking about 2018 legislative campaigns.

Grassroots organizations in Johnson County are multiplying and starting to plot how they will elect more moderate Republicans and Democrats to the Kansas Legislature.

While Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and potential GOP rival U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner collect millions of dollars in campaign donations, many Missouri officials are raising far less as they adjust to new state campaign donation limits.

Campaign finance reports from Jan. 1 to March 31 also showed that Gov. Eric Greitens spent more than a half-million dollars in that timespan, with a large chunk going toward a media services firm run by Georgia-based consultant Nick Ayers, who also has done work for Vice President Mike Pence.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill stood on a stage at Park University Thursday and took questions from some of the several hundred people packed into the majestic college chapel.

It was the latest in a string of town halls she's holding around the state.

The Senator was in Sikeston and Hannibal earlier in the week. On Friday she’s scheduled to be in Springfield and Rolla.

The two-term Senator, a Democrat, has made it clear she plans to run for re-election in 2018.

State Treasurer Ron Estes won the election to become the next Republican Congressman to represent the 4th District in Kansas. Estes defeated Democrat James Thompson by fewer than 10 percentage points, unofficial poll numbers show. Libertarian Chris Rockhold was also on the ballot and drew 2 percent of the vote.

A special election in Kansas on Tuesday has Republicans sounding worried about an enthusiasm gap in the Trump era.

Trump himself was apparently worried enough that he cut a robo call for Republican state party Treasurer Ron Estes.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Tuesday voters in south central Kansas will be the first in the nation to decide a congressional race in the age of Trump.

The special election in the Kansas 4th District will replace Mike Pompeo, who now leads the CIA. It’s a district that would, under normal circumstances, be considered a lock for the Republican candidate. But of course, these are not normal times, and resources are flowing into the district from left and right.

Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners

A total of about 60,000 Kansas Citians voted in yesterday’s municipal elections, according to turnout figures from election boards. Kansas City voters in Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties approved $800 million in general obligation bonds, a one-eighth cent sales tax for development on the city’s east side and lessened penalties for marijuana possession.

Shawn Kieffer from the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners says he’s disappointed with the 18 percent turnout from Jackson County.

KC Pet Project

Kansas City residents handed city officials a big victory Tuesday night when they approved an $800 million bond package and property tax increase to address the city's infrastructure needs. 

City officials are eager to get to work. City Manager Troy Schulte says his team has already been developing a first-year implementation plan for the first tranche, or portion, of the money. He says he plans to deliver a final version of that plan to the city council by May 1. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri voters approved all five questions that appeared on Tuesday's special election ballot.

The first three all dealt with a massive $800 million infrastructure bond package, which includes annual property tax increases. The city plans to issue the bonds over 20 years to chip away at looming infrastructure needs. Each question required a 57.1 percent super majority. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For all the times that scientific research has improved our lives, there are other times when science got it horribly wrong. Today, Dr. Paul Offit describes the lessons we have learned, and should be learning, to separate good science from bad.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For Mayor Sly James, this has been a particularly busy time. On Tuesday evening, he gave his State of the City Address, which we discuss today, along with a bond proposal James says will trim, but not eliminate, a backlog of public works projects in Kansas City, Missouri.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The intersection of Hillcrest Road and Oldham in Swope Park needs work. The narrow bridge here has been considered structurally deficient since 2014.

And at night, especially when it rains, the sharp turns can be dangerous.

Two fatal crashes happened here in just the last few months.

Guard rail and bridge repairs would make this intersection safer. But it’s only one of hundreds of project all over the city in need of attention. 

Dank Depot / Flickr — CC

More than half of states have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use.

Kansas City voters won’t be considering that exact question on April 4th, but they will get to decide whether to reduce the penalties for marijuana possession.

Wikimedia -- CC / FBI

The NPR Two-Way blog will provide live coverage of the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s East Side is receiving renewed attention this year with several initiatives aimed at attracting investment to an area that’s struggled economically for many decades.

 

Topping the list is a grassroots proposal championed by East Side clergy and others that will ask voters next month to approve a 1/8th cent sales tax increase. It would generate an estimated $8 million annually to support development east of Troost Avenue.

 

There are other new plans and proposals as well.

 

Justgrimes / Flickr — CC

So you voted in the presidential election last year and felt all warm and fuzzy because you did your civic duty. Yay! Or maybe you didn't (or couldn't) but now you want to make a change.

The race for the highest executive office in the United States may be settled, but KCUR is here to break down Kansas City, Missouri's special April 4 election for you. 

First, make sure you can vote (if you're registered already, click here to skip down to the issues)

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

In one of his final public appearances as governor, Jay Nixon stopped at Magna Seating, a small automotive parts manufacturer in Excelsior Springs.

“It’s good to visit people that are working, you know?” Nixon said. “Especially after that first year and a half where everyone was losing their jobs and the economy was tanking.”

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. Jan. 25.

Kansas 2nd District Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins said Wednesday she will leave her seat at the end of this term and explore jobs in the private sector.

There have been rumors about Jenkins running for Kansas governor in 2018, as Gov. Sam Brownback’s second term will be ending. In a statement, Jenkins seemed to put those rumors to rest.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

On the deadline to approve items for the April ballot Thursday, the Kansas City council reached a compromise and unanimously approved an ordinance for an $800 million dollar infrastructure bond package.

The plan includes a property tax increase over 20 years for the purpose of repairing, rebuilding and maintaining the city's existing infrastructure. 

The agreement comes after 43 days of back and forth between council members and Mayor Sly James.

Councilwoman Jolie Justus says the ordinance doesn’t give everyone what they want. 

(Updated January 18)  Members of the Missouri House have taken a big step toward delivering a right-to-work law to Missouri.

On Wednesday, the House initially passed state Rep. Holly Rehder’s legislation, which would bar unions and employers from requiring workers to pay dues. The Sikeston Republican’s bill, which passed 101-58, also paves the way for criminal penalties for anybody that violates the proposal.

Joseph Keppler / Puck / Public Domain

President-elect Trump's one-off deal making with the likes of Carrier, Ford, and SoftBank have raised concerns about crony capitalism. The Ethics Professors tackle that issue, and discuss whether U.S.

Kashif Pathan / Flickr - CC

Kansas City Public Library officials say they plan on pressing charges after several marks of racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic graffiti were found inside the Central Library location downtown Sunday.

A library statement says the graffiti was found in a men's bathroom stall, on a portrait of former First National Bank executive Taylor S. Abernathy, on a glass window near the library's main entrance, and on a stairwell leading down to the library's vault level. 

All of the graffiti and the defaced portrait have been removed. 

Olathe School District

The Olathe Public Schools issued a statement Thursday morning about racial incidents reported at Olathe North High School.

Principal Jason Herman informed parents Wednesday.

"I wanted to make you aware of some very concerning behavior recently occurring at North. We have had several incidents in which students were harassed based on their race and/or ethnicity," he said in a letter.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Electing a new president is usually not a cause for great alarm in schools.

But teachers say Donald Trump’s election is causing students to turn on one another and pitting teacher against teacher.

On Wednesday, Olathe North High School Principal Jason Herman sent a letter to parents saying, "We have had several incidents in which students were harassed based on their race and/or ethnicity."

Herman called the behavior "intolerable" and promised swift action by the administration.

Kansas Legislature, coloring by Kelly Tate

Next Monday, Dec. 5,  all the lawmakers elected to the Kansas Legislature will meet in Topeka to nominate new leadership for the 2017 session.

Without a doubt, there will be many more Democrats and moderate Republicans in the statehouse this time. Conservative Republicans lost roughly a third of their seats in the just-certified elections. 

But conservatives will still be the single biggest faction in both the House and the Senate, and so a lot depends on who they back for top posts. 

How many moderates?

It's been three weeks since the election, and public reactions are still hot. Today, Kansas City's own David Von Drehle, editor-at-large for Time magazine, treads the political aftermath.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission School District board and its superintendent faced a packed room of very unhappy parents and teachers Monday night.

The district has come under fire for strongly suggesting to staff that they refrain from wearing safety pins. The pins are seen by many as a sign to students that they're in a safe place, but some see the pins as a protest of the election of Donald Trump.

Before the meeting even started, board President Sara Goodburn made it very clear: We'll listen to your concerns but we're not changing our minds.

Courtesy Vicki Hiatt

The Johnson County Election Office went ahead with a vote recount sought by Kansas Senate candidate Vicki Hiatt even though she withdrew her request, citing irregularities and what she described as the office’s lack of transparency.

The election office said on Wednesday that the recount had left the outcome of the District 10 race unchanged. It said Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook defeated Hiatt, a Democrat, by the identical 952-vote margin reported earlier, with each candidate receiving one additional vote from paper ballots.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

It goes without saying that religious communities are not monolithic. That may be especially true after this election.

So when I got an assignment to get “the response of religious communities” to the presidential election, my impulse was to visit with every religious institution in the area. Not possible. So I arbitrarily selected representatives of a few denominations, knowing it would be but a sample, a snapshot, of what some houses of worship were feeling.

I began with mosques. 

Stunned by the magnitude of their Election Day losses, Missouri’s Democratic leaders are taking stock as they seek to regroup.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she’s in the midst of “a listening tour’’ to gauge where she and other party activists went wrong, and what needs to be done. But McCaskill emphasized in an interview that she doesn’t buy into the narrative that Missouri Democrats were punished at the polls for ignoring rural voters and working-class whites.

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