By Tyler Schneider
Incumbent Mayor Leonard Jones, Jr. is challenged by two candidates: John Boyd, Jr. and Kaele Bybee.
John Boyd Jr. began his bid for public office in 2018, when he earned 40.9 percent of the vote in his bid for the District 37 seat of the Missouri House to Joe Runions (59.1 percent). Encouraged by a strong showing against an incumbent, Boyd ran for the seat again in 2020 — where he would lose a three-way race to Annette Turnbaugh (56.1 percent) with a similar 42.4 percent share.
Boyd is hoping the third time’s the charm as he sets his sights towards ousting another incumbent, Leonard D. Jones, Jr., for Grandview’s mayoral seat. “I stepped up to run and represent people who feel like they’re not being represented,” Boyd says of his current campaign’s objective.
“We want to put the safety of our community first. We also have to support the people, make sure we have the right funding and that we’re spending the money responsibly so that we can make it last and spread it around a little bit more. We can eliminate laws that don’t make sense anymore.” When it comes to safety, Boyd is unrelenting in his position. “Without a safe community, much of the rest doesn’t matter,” he said.
On the shooting range, which has personally impacted Boyd Jr. and prompted him to post a video about it on Facebook, the candidate takes up several issues. “The people didn’t vote for the design. Those were decisions that were made by those who were in the city hall at the time, including [the mayor] and some of the [sitting] aldermen.”
Kaele Bybee received 109 votes, 23 percent of the vote, in her June 2, 2020 bid to become a Ward 2 Alderman. Now, in an attempt to oust the incumbent Mayor Leonard Jones, Jr., Bybee is leaning on familiar issues from her previous campaign.
“We need an anchor store but Sam’s [Club] is done. I’ve had people ask me about grocery stores, wanting restaurants here, [about] Costco, Chick-fil-A, gun control — we need to fix the gun range. People voted (for) it and I think they should be able to use it more than just on a Saturday,” Bybee said.
“The City is losing $20 million a year because we cannot keep businesses here. When people want to go out to eat, they don’t have anything,” Bybee added. “Grandview definitely needs change. We need to grow and keep our income in Grandview.”
Bybee, an Olathe native and 20-year resident of Grandview said she supports the police, fire departments and schools in her community, but would like to see her fellow taxpayers “have a greater input in what comes to Grandview.”
“My issue is people speeding, so I would love to place speed bumps on those roads that are really bad,” Bybee added.
Leonard D. Jones Jr. was first elected as a Ward 1 Alderman in 1998, and then as Grandview’s mayor in an April 8, 2014 special election, Jones has been encouraged with the city’s progress under his watch. He cites the city’s response to the pandemic as a more recent example.
“Policies through this COVID activity enacted to make sure we do everything we can to keep our residents and visitors safe. We’ve now got more than 14 different testing sites in the city,” Jones said, adding that an April 10 mass vaccination is projected to distribute 2,000 doses to city residents.
If he wins on April 6, Jones would like to, among other goals, continue to work towards improving the city-wide availability of housing for all income levels and increase the city’s retail presence with projects like transitioning to two-way access roads along I-49.
The mayor would also look to establish “viable” neighborhood watch associations. Jones is a believer in the power of “over the fence” discourse between neighbors in fostering a stronger sense of community. Such efforts could also lead certain neighborhoods to adopt distinctive, unifying features that one might expect to see in larger cities.
On the controversial shooting range that was completed in 2019 and renovated last year due to sound complaints from residents, Jones said he was “a realist.”
“I don’t know if we will ever be able to fully address everything, but we need to be able to let our staff evaluate the data, make informed decisions and learn from them before we take the next step. We need to learn to crawl before we run,” Jones said.