By Don Bradley
Kevin McManus comes into Crow’s Coffee at Red Bridge wearing a sport coat, open collar and a big smile.
For the first time in more than a decade, the 6th District Kansas City councilmember and mayor pro-tem is starting a new year not looking at the next filing, next race or next stint in political office.
He’s wrapping up two consecutive terms and the city charter says that’s all he gets. Before that, beginning in 2011, he served five years as a representative in the Missouri House. He says he will leave this year with no regrets, lots of pride and no itch to get back into it.
Particular accomplishments? He’s proud of the city’s role and his part in the redevelopment work at Red Bridge Shopping Center. From a sleepy, no frills center struggling for traffic seven years ago, Red Bridge is now a vibrant destination with restaurants and night spots.
McManus also points to improvements along the Wornall Road corridor and 63rd Street in the Brookside area which allowed and encouraged small businesses to relocate there.
“Of course, now we’d like to see that continue on to the east,” McManus said.
He also leaves some direction for whoever takes his place: the work to bring affordable housing and jobs to the district is never over and last year voters approved $50 million for affordable housing for low-income residents.
“The next council can utilize that,” he said.
If Missouri even had a faint glimmer of blue, McManus, a Democrat, might look at a statewide race. But recent elections indicate that doesn’t seem the case and he seems fine with that.
“I grew up out here, went to school here, my parents are my constituents,” he said. “All I really wanted to do was serve my community and I’ve done that.”
But when reminded he’s only 43, he smiled again.
“Never say never, but I think 13 years is enough.”
Filing for his seat and others for Kansas City’s April election opened Dec. 6 and ends Jan. 10. Current Jackson County legislator Dan Tarwater was first in line to file for the seat currently held by McManus. The district’s at-large council seat is held by Andrea Bough, whose term is also up this year.
Whoever wins will represent a newly-drawn, less diverse and more homogeneous district. For years, the 6th combined the working class neighborhoods of Ruskin Heights and Hickman Mills to the east with more affluent areas to the west along State Line.
But redistricting approved a year ago changed the boundaries of all six districts. Ruskin and Hickman Mills areas will join the 5th district while the remaining 6th district map runs north in a narrow band along State Line north all the way to the Westport area.
The redistricting was done because the city’s recent growth, more than 50,000 since 2011, created population disparity, and having districts with far more residents than others violated city laws about equal representation.
District populations now run from 82,932 in the 3rd to 86,517 in the 5th. The 6th, according to the city, now has 83,067 residents.
McManus, an attorney and father of two, says the city is in good shape financially.
“You never know what’s coming around the corner,” he said. “But the city is fiscally strong, much better shape than we thought we might be coming out of Covid.”
He said he will wind down his term working on sidewalk repairs.
“Then, well, I practice law so I’ll probably be practicing a lot more of it.”