By Kathy Feist
Incumbent City Councilperson Andrea Bough will be facing former teacher Jill Sasse in 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. We’ve asked the candidates topics that are important to our readership area.
Jill Sasse, 62, is an articulate former public school teacher and tutor who received her teaching degree from William Jewell College. Her husband is a professor at Rockhurst University and they both live in the Waldo area. She says she is running because she and others around her want to have a voice. “No one is listening,” she says. In particular, Sasse says the city’s handling of the pandemic was confusing and affected small businesses, such as daycares. “To me, the people are the experts, not those who have a particular position in city hall.” Consequently, she says she is listening to voters for her ideas.
Sasse says it’s necessary to attract and keep officers. She would like to get the staffing number from 1100 to 1500. She feels the mayor does not support the police, which plays a part in morale. “The relationship between the city and the police officers is horrible,” she says. As a result, it’s important for the city to cultivate a better relationship with the police department to attract officers.
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.”
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.
“We need safe, clean neighborhoods in order to attract businesses,” she says. Sasse believes like most problems in the city, there is no enforcement of the codes. Also, commercial developers need to be engaged and listen to the community, she says, sharing that Lane4 Property CEO Owen Buckley has made a success out of Red Bridge Shopping Center because he attended neighborhood meetings. “They are invested in him. He is invested in them.”
Blue River Road/Infrastructure
Sasse says residents have told her Blue River Road is a necessary north-south connection that helps eliminate traffic from Wornall and Holmes roads. She does not believe it should become a bike path. “The city is doing so much of that.”
The incumbent in the race, Bough, 51, received her law degree from UMKC Law School and soon started her career as a law clerk at the Court of Appeals in Western Missouri. She most recently worked at Lewis Rice law firm specializing in real estate. She is married to Judge Steven Bough with the Western District of Missouri. Bough chaired the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics Reform as well as other nonprofit and city boards. Bough lives in the Brookside area.
Bough is proud of the city’s recent budget of $30 million to address violent crime over the course of five years. She hopes, like the successful Omaha 360 program, that it will reduce violence by bringing together the faith, business, local government, neighborhood and law enforcement communities. She also sees aew city-backed summer employment program for disadvantaged youth as a step in the right direction. “It’s experience, it’s payment, and it’s providing them an outlet for time and not having an opportunity to engage in other activities that may get them into situations where violence can result,” she says.
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 supportive services.
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. “If we remove the natural benefit to [panhandling], especially for those who are there for nefarious reasons,then we can start changing behavior,” she says.
Bough admits south Kansas City has to be more aggressive in economic recruitment. She says the new city’s assistant manager plans to look into easing the process to do business in Kansas City, “so people don’t just give up.”
Infrastructure/Blue River Road
Bough would like to see Blue River Road fixed but says the amount of money needed to shore up the eroded piece of road would detract funds away from other projects in south Kansas City, such as Holmes Road. “If we have to do a $40 million project and we can’t get resources from the federal government to cover that, then, is that one road that we’re going to be able to do in five years [worth] the detriment of other roads?”