By Kathy Feist
Incumbent City Councilperson Andrea Bough will be facing former teacher Jill Sasse and community organizer Mary Nestel in the April 4th election. The two that win the most votes will proceed to the June 20th election The Sixth District includes Martin City, Red Bridge, Waldo, Brookside, the Plaza and Westport. “At-large” means voters throughout the city vote for the position.
Jill Sasse, 62, is a former public school teacher and tutor whose husband teaches at Rockhurst University. Sasse lives in the Waldo area. She is running because she and others around her want to have a voice. “No one is listening,” she says. “To me, the people are the experts and not the people who have a particular position in city hall.
Crime Sasse says it’s necessary to attract and keep officers. She would like to increase police staffing from 1100 to 1500. She says the mayor does not support the police. As a result, it’s important for the city to cultivate a better relationship with the police department to improve morale and consequently attract officers.
Homelessness She believes the city must enforce any codes that might affect homeless camps. “Many are engaged in illegal activity in these camps.” She would like to see resources in the community, including the nonprofits and faith communities, work together. “I don’t think we are organized on that.”
Panhandling Sasse believes boundaries should be set for panhandlers. “They should not be anywhere near a business,” she says. Nor near busy traffic, for safety reasons. She also believes they should get a license to panhandle.
Economic Development Sasse believes like most problems in the city, there is no enforcement of the codes. “We need safe, clean neighborhoods in order to attract businesses,” she says. Landlords need to be engaged and listen to the community, she says, pointing out as an example Lane4 Property Group CEO Owen Buckley’s success with Red Bridge Shopping Center. Because he attended neighborhood meetings, “they are invested in him, he is invested in them.”
The incumbent in the race, Bough, 51, also has the advantage of being an attorney, having started as a young law clerk at the Court of Appeals in Western Missouri. She most recently practiced law at Lewis Rice specializing in real estate. She is married to Western District of Missouri Judge Steven Bough. Andrea chaired the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics Reform as well as numerous other nonprofit and city boards. Bough lives in the Brookside area.
Crime Bough is proud of the city recently budgeting $30 million to address violent crime over the next five years. She hopes, like the successful Omaha 360 program, it will reduce violence by bringing together the faith, business, local government, neighborhood and law enforcement communities. She also sees a summer employment program for disadvantaged youth as a step in the right direction toward reducing crime.
Homelessness Bough is in favor of the Zero KC Plan to reduce homelessness. But she realizes “the city is good at making plans but not at implementing them.” She would like to see the homeless off the street and into support services.
Panhandling Bough recognizes the city is limited in what it can do regarding panhandling because of First Amendment rights protection. She suggests the answer may be educating the public to not enable panhandling. “We need to remove the financial benefits.”
Economic Development Bough admits south Kansas City has to be more aggressive in economic recruitment. She says the new city assistant manager plans to look into easing the process to do business in Kansas City, “So people don’t just give up.”
Mary Nestel, 56, may be the owner of an insurance company, but she is best known for being a strong community organizer. In the southern half of south KC that translates to organizing clean up activity along Indian Creek and at homeless camps. Nestel lives in the Red Bridge area and has helped organize Jazzoo, parades, and other events. She feels the city is not helping the needs of “real Kansas Citians.” “We are not a New York, Portland or Chicago,” she says.
Crime Nestel feels the city needs to stop painting the police department as criminals. She says the department should be fully funded and staff increased from 1100 to 1500.
Homelessness “Giving a blanket or propane tank is not going to help the homeless issue,” says Nestel. She says that behavior is only enabling those who otherwise need services for addiction or mental health problems. She would like to see the city work more closely with outreach groups.
Panhandling Nestel understands First Amendment rights, but is concerned about the safety of panhandling in the middle of a street. She points out that some panhandlers are dropped off and “pimped” out in exchange for a roof over their heads.
Economic Development Nestel believes that to attract new business and development to south KC, the area needs to be cleaned up, crime stopped and the homeless camps and panhandling eliminated. She says tax incentives should be given to small, local business owners–those who can’t afford the taxes–rather than the big developers who can.