By Kathy Feist
Along with Kevin McManus terming out of his Sixth District City Councilman seat comes a crew of diverse candidates. Those include longtime Jackson County representative Dan Tarwater III, LGBTQ and community activist Michael Schuckman, KC Tenants organizer Johnathan Duncan, public retirement fund specialist Cecelia Carter and Neighborhood Advisory Council appointee Tiffany Moore. The Sixth District starts in Martin City and follows Grandview Road and Troost up to Westport. This is an in-district race, meaning only those within the Sixth District vote for these candidates.
Dan Tarwater III
Dan Tarwater III, 59, is perhaps the most well known candidate, having served for 28 years as a Jackson County legislator. Tarwater is known for telling it like it is, a style some have compared to Harry Truman. He is a lifelong south Kansas City resident, having grown up and still living in the Red Bridge area. He owns an insurance agency in Lee’s Summit. Tarwater says his experience differentiates him from his peers. “I have the experience to get things completed,” he says. “I know how to negotiate and compromise. If you don’t have that you won’t get anything done.”
Crime Tarwater says the city needs to build a jail. in order to reduce crime. The city closed its jail in 2015 and started sending detainees to county jails, including Jackson County. Tarwater says individuals who commit small crimes, such as robberies and burglaries, are generally not held there. Those crimes, according to Tarwater, can lead to larger ones. “What I’ve seen from the county side, is that one in three violent crimes are committed by people who should have been in time out,” he says.
Homelessness Tarwater says many of those living in a homeless camp need mental help and drug addiction intervention. He believes around 65% can get off the street with a helping hand. Any affordable housing created for this population should include “wrap around” services. “For many, their disease doesn’t allow them to be [in housing].” He says those 35% are in need of prescribed medication or addiction treatment.
Panhandling Tarwater recognizes the ACLU’s claim that people have the right to panhandle. To reduce the number of panhandlers, he recommends requiring a free city license to panhandle and having them wear a bright yellow vest for safety purposes. Those who do not have the license or vest could be held or taken to a shelter for proper assistance.
Economic Development “The life blood of our economy in the Sixth District is small business,” says Tarwater. He would like to see the permit process streamlined and hurdles removed, claiming it currently can take six to eight months to open a business due to permits.
Blue River Road “There is no other road like it,” he says. “Blue River Road needs to be saved.” He says years ago the estimate to shore up the road that is sliding toward the river was $5 million. “I can’t take the word that it is $15-$20 million. That can’t be right.” He would like to look into the costs to find out why the city is avoiding repairs.
Michael Schuckman, 37, is eager to get started as the next generation of leaders for the city. The Waldo resident currently works as a systems analyst for the City Water Department and has worked for the City of Lenexa as an asset manager. He would like to bring his specialty of tracking city and park assets to the city council position. Knowing when and where something was built can help defer high dollar infrastructure costs, he says. Schuckman attended UMKC graduate school where he focused on Urban Geoscience. He proudly represents the LGBTQ+ community.
Crime Schuckman believes crime can be reduced by increasing police staffing and addressing citizens’ needs. “Most people don’t go out and rob for the fun of it,” he says. “You need the food. You need the money. For violent crimes, it’s a need for revenge.” Access to housing, food, crisis interventions, drug rehabilitation programs, or mental health treatment can make a dent in reducing crime. “The city needs to meet them where they are.”
Homelessness Schuckman admires a Los Angeles program that provides basic amenities for the homeless, such as shower and bath facilities in parking lots and outreach kiosks in their downtown area. He would like to explore the idea of having service outposts for the homeless throughout the city.
Panhandling Schuckman understands the desire to help someone in need. However, he would like to have panhandling regulated by creating an ordinance based on the safety issue, especially when in busy traffic areas.
Economic Development Schuckman says the city needs to focus on small businesses rather than large ones. “Major developers get tax incentives, but there’s nothing for small Mom and Pop shops that really need it.” He would like to see the number of steps to opening a local business reduced. When small businesses take off in the area, larger businesses will want to be a part of the innovative area, he says.
Blue River Road Schuckman believes it was wrong for the city to close off a major arterial road for those in the community. “If we can spend $60 million downtown to cover I-670 and put a park up there, why can’t we find a way to procure funds to improve, repair and rebuild Blue River Road?” He suggests working with federal and state partners to find funding.
Johnathan Duncan, 37, is a freethinker with plenty of new ideas. Most of those ideas are tied in with KC Tenants’ philosophy, which is to not only assist tenants with landlord issues but to push the city to provide municipal social housing that is not for profit, permanently affordable and controlled by its residents. “We need to treat housing like a human right,” he says. Duncan grew up in Newton, Kansas, served in the Iraq war, and is the Director of Operations for the VFW. He lives in the 49/63 Neighborhood Coalition.
Crime Duncan does not believe a new jail will reduce crime. “We don’t need jail. We need more resources.” He lists affordable housing, child care, a robust transportation system and more city services as solutions. He would also like to see how the budget for the police department is structured. “We don’t have accountability for 30% of the city budget. [The police department] must be accountable for how they use those funds.”
Homelessness Duncan applauds the city for wanting to use the proposed marijuana tax to fund services that include homeless prevention. He would like to see services created with those who are houseless rather than for. Short term solutions include more beds. Long term includes permanent affordable housing. He says houselessness and crime are interlinked. “We need to ensure that we are not giving one single more penny of the 25% [state] requirement to our Kansas City police. And that we are using the other 5% allocated to the KCPD enforcement to address the underlying causes of houselessness.”
Panhandling Duncan believes panhandlers are residents who are not contributing to our economy. He would prefer discussions with those who panhandle to get an understanding of the issue.
Economic Development “There is an abundance of land in south Kansas City. We can do better than warehouses,” says Duncan. He would like to bring green energy fields and other businesses to south Kansas City. Regardless of what kind of development comes to the area, it should have the buy-in of its residents.
Blue River Road Duncan says he has heard from south Kansas City residents that they want the road opened up. “So many people in south Kansas City feel the city has abandoned them when it comes to Blue River Road.” He would want to be in discussion with the community and work toward transparency and accountability as well as find out why the city doesn’t believe in upkeeping infrastructure.
Cecelia Carter, 63, embodies elegance and class. With that comes a brain for numbers and an impressive background in public work. As her website states, Carter has been a steward of trust funds of “up to $38 billion through various boards and commissions, overseeing the investment of public fund and endowment portfolios as a fiduciary.” That portfolio includes handling retirement funds at the executive level for cities and school districts, including Kansas City Public Schools, Omaha Public Schools, the Missouri Association of Public Employees, the City of Seattle, and the City of Pontiac, Michigan. She would like to apply what she has learned to city policy. “A steward is always thinking about what they are doing today and how that impacts the future.” Carter lives in the Arno Park neighborhood.
Crime Carter believes that with the help of the new police chief, KCPD needs to rebuild its relationship with the community. She is a big proponent of the Omaha 360 program that Kansas City has adopted which regularly brings the community together to reduce gun and gang violence. The program saw a 75% reduction in gun violence in Omaha from 2008-2018.
Homelessness Carter would like to see buildings remodeled into smaller units for the houseless. “Let’s get a roof over their heads with doors that lock.” Once there, those individuals should transition into social services and later transition onto their own, she says.
Panhandling “It’s not against the law to stand on a corner to panhandle, it’s the aggression.” She would like to see an aggressive panhandling ordinance much like one in use in Seattle. It would be okay to passively panhandle, but not aggressively approach someone in a parking lot, as an example.
Economic Development Due to the diversity of the Sixth District, she would like the opportunity to sit down with each community to see what kind of business they want in the area. From there she would work to market the area. She believes public safety is key to economic development. “If people aren’t comfortable going out in the community, then there is no economic development there.”
Blue River Road Carter would like to investigate why the city can’t commit to repairing Blue River Road.
Tiffany Moore, 55, is technical minded. You can sense the data or dots being connected in her head as she finds solutions to problems. Which is a good thing, because connecting all the dots within the vast KCMO government is a priority for her. Moore is an analyst with Honeywell but is best known in south Kansas City for her work on the Neighborhood Advisory Council where she has been instrumental in helping neighborhood associations deal with city issues and development. She also served as manager of the Martin City Community Improvement District. Moore has lived in Waldo for 20 years.