Stacey Johnson-Cosby Runs for City Council
By Samuel Ast
Kansas City has been home to Johnson-Cosby for over 40 years. Her parents, as well as two sisters, served in the United States military for both the Army and Air Force. Though she did not pick up the uniform herself, Johnson-Cosby found other ways to serve her community as an activist, volunteer, and organizer. “I am proud to have three generations of women veterans in my family,” she said.
After graduating from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1987 with a degree in Psychology and Communication Studies, Johnson-Cosby became a broker for Reece and Nichols real estate company working in both the Missouri and Kansas markets. Johnson-Cosby attributes her interest in public service to her work in real estate.
In addition to her work as a real estate agent, Johnson-Cosby has shown a proclivity for volunteer work and community activism. In 2011, along with John Sharp, she formed the South Kansas City Alliance, a coalition of neighborhood organizations, non-profits, and business leaders that she describes as “an effective link between government, neighborhoods, businesses, developers, and economic development engines.”
The topic of redevelopment–and Kansas City’s changing economic landscape– comes up frequently not only during the city’s mayoral debates but also when looking at budgetary issues and the granting of tax incentives for new construction projects throughout the city. Johnson-Cosby believes that the city needs a clear and transparent plan that produces public confidence in Kansas City’s overall development strategy.
Johnson-Cosby is quick to emphasize the need for increased public scrutiny of new projects moving forward. “We need citizen input working along with developers at the same table to determine what types of development projects are wanted in the neighborhoods,” she said. “Working together collaboratively early on in the process avoids the potentially adversarial tone that exists on many projects now.” As far as tax incentives go, Johnson-Cosby said that the city “needs to carefully judge each development project and the particular tax tool on its own merit.”
Though much of her professional experience centers around her work in real estate, Johnson-Cosby has taken an interest in addressing issues of public safety and has taken action that she hopes will help to alleviate homelessness in the Kansas City area, specifically among students in the Hickman Mills and Center school districts.
Johnson-Cosby serves on the leadership of two projects, Impact Center Schools and Impact Hickman Mills, that aim to eliminate the population of homeless students, currently numbering 700, in both districts. “Hopefully, by stabilizing families and making sure students and families have hope, housing, and food stability, we can see the tide turn as the families are permanently housed with access to supportive services surrounding them.”
As far as Kansas City’s stubbornly high levels of violent crime and lack of trust in police go, Johnson-Cosby will tell you that she is a proponent of community policing and other police outreach efforts, asserting that “if people continue to see the officers in the community and have positive interactions with them, hopefully, the trust will follow at some point.”
On issues related to housing, Johnson-Cosby believes many problems stem from what she considers a faulty regulatory environment. She recounted conversations she has had about the issue, recollecting that “many developers and investors tell me personally that they don’t want to do business in our city because of the cumbersome regulations and inconsistent enforcement of codes, policies, and permitting processes.” Johnson-Cosby mentioned that she has specific ideas based on these conversations of “how to start unraveling the red tape” in order to “open up our city to much-needed development,” though she did not explicitly list any of her ideas.
Other priorities for Johnson-Cosby, if elected, include making sure that citizens have a greater voice in local government, expanding access to early childhood education, and making sure the KCI terminal project moves forward in a responsible, transparent way.
“I recognize that there are others who are out here doing hard work along with me as volunteers building our city community by community, and I want to be their voice and welcome their good ideas for improving our city,” she said.
Johnson-Cosby also currently serves as Councilman Scott Taylor’s Public Improvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) representative. This committee’s main function is to solicit public input and make recommendations primarily regarding neighborhood, infrastructure projects prior to the adoption of Kansas City’s annual budgets. She was appointed to the position by Taylor in 2009.
Johnson-Cosby, who identifies herself as Independent, is one of two women running to represent the 6th District at-large on the Kansas City Council. The seat is currently held by Councilman Scott Taylor, who is a candidate for mayor. Councilman Taylor is barred from running for re-election in 2019, as he has already served two consecutive terms. Incumbent Councilman Kevin McManus, also from the 6th District, is running for a second term unopposed. Kansas City’s municipal general election is on June 18.