Justin Short and Crispin Rea, Jr. run for 4th District at-Large city council seat.

Get to know your 4th District at-Large candidates

The Fourth District encompasses the city’s center, nearly encircling the small town of North Kansas City as it loops south from Westport, east to I-435 and over into the Historic Northeast neighborhood.

By Max Goodwin

Crispin Rea and Justin Short are contending for city councilperson of this at-large district, to be determined by a citywide vote. Katheryn Shields currently holds the seat, but is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. The Fourth District encompasses the city’s center, nearly encircling the small town of North Kansas City as it loops south from Westport, east to I-435 and over into the Historic Northeast neighborhood.

Justin Short

Short, 34, is from the Northland and earned a hospitality management/business degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He grew up absorbed in local politics, with his father serving as a Platte County Commissioner and school board member. “For me, it was experiential,” Short says. “It wasn’t something that was taught. I lived it as a young person. I always knew that the municipal process interested me.”

After years in the hospitality industry, including a stint as cruise ship director, Short returned to Kansas City. He lives downtown and in 2020 was appointed to the LGBTQ Commission by Shields.  Presenting in front of committee and legislative sessions at City Hall and serving on boards for various nonprofits, Short says he thought, “Now’s the right time to go for an elected position.”


Short says the City Council needs to continue allocating $6.7 million per year for KC 360, a comprehensive plan to address violence in Kansas City based on the past program, KC No Violence Alliance. “I do believe in that, and I think that it is a great way to take actual action steps to reduce the violent crime rate,” Short says. He also listed preventative ways to reduce crime, like creating stable housing, reducing food deserts and focusing on blight. 


Short points to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund established by Kansas City in 2018 as a solution. “Creating stable housing for everybody is very important,” Short says. “Our city needs to focus on the bottom end. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is how we get there as well as working with groups like the Marlborough Community Land Trust.” The Marlborough Land Trust is a nonprofit group that helps provide affordable housing by renovating homes in the Marlborough neighborhood. 

Economic Development

Short says the City Council should be more proactive with each district’s economic development. “The most striking example is what happened with the Red Bridge Shopping Center,” he says. “We lost Sun Fresh, and then City Council and the mayor and administration worked tirelessly with Lane4 to find a new grocer. It’s the council’s role to be looking at those situations.”


Crispin Rea

Rea, 37, was drawn to public service growing up on the east side of Kansas City, where he witnessed high levels of crime and disinvestment in the community. His mother was always involved in neighborhood associations, taking him with her to the meetings. “Public service was always instilled in me,” he says. 

Rea has worked in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit for seven years. He has a degree from Park University and graduate degrees in public administration and law from UMKC. “I had become frustrated with the level of violence in the community,” Rea says of his reasons for running for City Council. “I felt like I had something to contribute.”


The issue of crime is personal. “I experienced this on a daily basis growing up,” says Rhea, who has been a case worker with KC No Violence Alliance.He would like to see the KC Police Department’s budget directed towards increasing the ranks of investigative units. “If there is one place that a police department can have a deterrent effect on crime, it is in time and certainty, reducing the amount of time it takes for someone to be held accountable and increasing the level of certainty at which someone will be held accountable.”


Rea says one of his biggest concerns is that a shortage of housing could continue to drive rent prices up. “I want to make sure that we are expanding the city’s housing stock so that it benefits those at the lowest end of the socio-economic scale, as well as upper lower-class and middle-class families who will also feel the pinch.”

Economic Development

Rea’s approach is to try to strike the right balance “where we’re protecting the city’s finances, where we’re making Kansas City a good place to do business, and where we’re listening to expert opinion,” he says.

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