By Sara Wiercinski
Brandon Ellington is the current At-Large representative serving his first term. Melissa Patterson Hazley is contesting his seat. In the April 4 primary election, both Ellington and Hazley, as official top two finishers, will advance to the general election on June 20.
The Third District encompasses the central-eastern portion of Kansas City. It is bounded on the West by Troost Avenue, Campbell Street and 71 Highway; and on the east by the City of Independence. Its boundaries include the Truman Sports Complex and the 18th and Vine historic district. “At-large” means voters throughout the city vote for the position.
Melissa Patterson Hazley
Melissa Patterson Hazley, 44, is a native of Kansas City. She is an Educational Psychologist and researcher for University of Kansas City-Missouri’s Institute for Human Development. Hazley attended Kansas City Public Schools through Southwest High School. She earned a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration from UMKC and a Master’s and PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska. Hazley is Chair of the Central City Economic Development (CCED) Sales Tax Board.
“With crime there is the policing aspect, which is vital to clear cases and hold people accountable. We also need to do more upstream to create an environment that makes crime less likely,” said Hazley. “It takes time and is expensive, but is in the purview of the council to do this.” She says the city needs to increase access to affordable housing and well-paying jobs with benefits; clean up infrastructure and eliminate blight–efforts which reduce the likelihood that someone will engage in violence. Hazley wants the city to create robust youth development programs. Cities like Dallas have seen success engaging young residents–statistically the highest age group involved in violent crime–who are otherwise left out of decision-making structures.
Hazley wants to see remediation of the city’s hundreds of vacant lots. “We need to get housing back to where it used to be,” said Hazley. “This will help all of the city, which suffers from lack of population density. That impacts industry, because the small businesses need shoppers to keep their doors open.”
Business and infrastructure development
Hazley says that while campaigning across the city, she finds that many issues are the same. “We can all get behind infrastructure. It’s not rocket science, it’s ongoing and will always need work. We need to be responsive to people’s needs from across the city.” She sees encouragement from new technology, like GIS, that helps municipalities visualize infrastructure needs in more impactful ways, thus allocating resources more equitably.
Brandon Ellington, 42, is a 1999 graduate of Paseo High School in Kansas City and attended Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He represented the 22nd District in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2011-2019 and served as the House Minority Whip. In 2019 he was elected to city council representing the 3rd District at-large. He serves on the Neighborhood, Planning, and Development Committee and is the Vice-Chair on the Special Committee on Housing Policy.
From the City Council website: “Ellington is dedicated to being an advocate for the underprivileged and disenfranchised. He has introduced legislation proposing full decriminalization of marijuana-related offenses in the state of Missouri and supports legislation that expunges the records of those charged with marijuana-related offenses.”
From Brandon Ellington’s campaign Facebook page: “If you’re looking for someone serious about policy, someone not afraid to stand up to industry, then I’m your representative and I’ll represent you at large.”
Ellington did not respond to requests for comment.