By Max Goodwin
Brandon Ellington is the incumbent in the Third District At-Large, and primary results indicate he may struggle to maintain his seat in the general election against Melissa Patterson Hazley. As the only candidates in the primary, both advanced to the general election. The Third District is bordered by Troost Avenue to the west and by the limits of Independence to the east. As an at-large race, it will be voted on by the entire city.
Ellington, 42, graduated from Paseo High School and attended Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He was elected to the City Council in 2019 after serving eight years in the Missouri State House of Representatives. Despite being the incumbent, he says he’s the outsider in this race. His opponent has more backing from the local political community, which indicates a difficult path to victory for Ellington, but he voices confidence in outperforming current expectations.
To reduce crime, communities need the ability to control their own institutions and resources, Ellington says. “I believe the city should have an outlet in which they’re partnering with someone that actually does training recruitment and has access to jobs.”
Ellington holds a “Job Fair for Felons” once each month, which he says targets job providers that are willing to help. “This reduces crime because once people are employed, they have something positive to do.”
He says tax incentive packages used in the Third District have not been diversified enough or used properly by the city. “18th and Vine is the perfect example,” Ellington says, standing outside a campaign event at a restaurant at the historic intersection. “Ultimately incentivized, but still, you don’t have storefronts or brick and mortar you can walk into.” He says development projects in the Third District should be adequate on paper and fiscally solvent before City Council approves.
City Council needs to do a better job allocating funds through tax incentives for developments, says Ellington, who points out home ownership is important for communities, and the City Council should do what it can to incentivize it. “When we look at communities that have high crime, these communities typically have low natural investment and low natural ownership, meaning you have more renters than you have house owners.”
Melissa Patterson Hazley
Patterson Hazley, 44, graduated from Southwest High School and has master’s degrees in higher education administration and educational psychology plus a Ph.D. in educational psychology. At the UMKC Institute for Human Development, she serves as director of community based research. She was part of a bipartisan commission to determine redistricting for the Missouri State House of Representatives in 2021.
Crime is a difficult issue to address, Patterson Hazley says. “A lot of crimes that we’re seeing, certainly violent crimes, are interpersonal conflicts between people that know each other. And it’s difficult to interrupt that, in real time, because you’re not a part of that friend group or that peer group.”
What the City Council can control, Patterson Hazley says, is improving infrastructure and removing blight. “Blight attracts bad behavior. I’m not saying people are bad, I’m saying the behaviors are bad. When you remove blight by redeveloping an area, you can influence how people behave in that area.”
“As a city, we certainly have the ability to prioritize geographically where we need economic development to occur,” Patterson Hazley says. “We’ve seen that happen at Red Bridge Shopping Center. It was revitalized, and that was the result of having representation that really championed that area, worked with developers, and helped facilitate a relatively smooth and understandable process in terms of city investment.” She says having someone on the City Council who can be a facilitator to help developers navigate can help focus attention on specific areas.
“A persistent problem facing the city of Kansas City is our housing crisis,” Patterson Hazley says. She explains that a lack of affordable housing can also increase other issues. “When people are spending a significant amount of their income on housing, it impacts other areas of their life. The city has a responsibility to try to diversify the housing options available so that more people can afford to live comfortably in a home.”