Kansas City, MO – This past Saturday, hundreds packed the building of the KC Tenants Power Candidate Forum at the Mohart Center, featuring 15 City Council candidates, representing at-large and in-district races, as well as the Mayor.
The forum aimed to inform the second round of endorsements KC Tenants Power will make before the 2023 municipal primary. In early February, KC Tenants Power announced its first round of endorsements for Jenay Manley (2nd district at large) and Johnathan Duncan (6th in-district). The Defender recently interviewed Jenay Manley on The Kansas City Defender Podcast.
The KC Tenants Power endorsement represents the support of the organization’s massive coalition of over 5,000 members and allies, and comes with communications and field commitments. Second round endorsements will be public March 7, and the KC Tenants Power voter guide will be available on March 14.
At the forum, candidates were questioned by poor and working-class tenants and allies on their vision for Kansas City as well as where they stand on a variety of issues including housing, tax incentives, transit, policing, and abortion access.
The forum began with a civics lesson and was then broken into three sections, featuring a panel with in-district candidates, followed by the Mayor, and concluding with at-large candidates. Attendees were invited to participate in the forum by holding the red card to signal their disapproval in a candidate’s answer, a green card to signal approval, and a W with their fingers to call out “word salad.”
In attendance representing the 3rd, 4th, and 6th in-district races where: Melissa Robinson (incumbent, 3rd in-district), Sheri Hall (3rd in-district), Eric Bunch (incumbent, 4th in-district), Crissy Dastrup (4th in-district), Johnathan Duncan (6th in-district) and Michael Schuckman (6th in-district).
In attendance representing the at large races were: Jenay Manley (2nd district at large), Brandon Ellington (incumbent, 3rd district at large), Melissa Patterson Hazley (3rd district at large), Jessica Blubaugh (4th district at large), Justin Short (4th district at large), Michael Kelly (5th district at large), Darrell Curls (5th district at large), and Andrea Bough (incumbent, 6th district at large).
During a lightning round, all candidates across both panels committed to work with the citywide tenant union KC Tenants to redefine “affordable” rent in Kansas City. All candidates across both panels, except for Justin Short, committed to ban source of income discrimination in rental applications. All candidates committed to ensuring the buses and streetcar remain free.
At large candidates were asked whether they support a downtown stadium. Andrea Bough abstained, and 4th at large candidates voted yes. All others said no.
All candidates across both panels said they have not accepted money from the Fraternal Order of Police. Several have accepted and kept real estate contributions, with the exception of Jenay Manley, Johnathan Duncan, Sheri Hall, and Michael Schuckman.
KC Tenants Power leader Valiera Brooks-Davis interviewed incumbent Mayor Quinton Lucas, asking him what he’s learned from KC Tenants his first term, what he feels were missed opportunities, about his vision for systemic solutions to the housing crisis and his definition of affordable rent. Val also asked him about how being a father has changed his perspective on his job and on the city.
KC Tenants Power live-tweeted the forum HERE. Photos and a recording of the full event can be shared with press as needed.
“Our focus is on winning governing power. Governing power is when we, the people, call the shots. Governing power is when we have the ability to make and shape decisions that impact our lives, our neighborhoods, and our city. We know that elections are not the path to liberation. We know that voting alone will not save our city. Electoral politics is one tool in our toolbox,” said Dajanae Moreland, leader with KC Tenants Power and the emcee of Saturday’s forum. “The only way we make our vision for Kansas City the inevitable reality is if we organize. I believe a better Kansas City is possible, if we’re willing to fight for it.”