Dan Tarwater and Johnathan Duncan are running for the 6th District City Council seat.

Get to know your 6th District candidates

By Kathy Feist

Dan Tarwater and Johnathan Duncan are running for the 6th District City Council seat currently held by Kevin McManus. After two terms, McManus has termed out. The 6th District is the southwestern edge of Kansas City and includes residents from Martin City to Westport and travels from State Line Rd. to Holmes Rd. The Telegraph has interviewed both candidates on topics that are important to our readership area, including the question Councilman McManus gets the most: Blue River Road.

Dan Tarwater III

Dan Tarwater III, 59, has served for 28 years as a Jackson County legislator representing south Kansas City. The outspoken candidate is a lifelong south Kansas City resident, having grown up and still lives in the Red Bridge area. He graduated from Rockhurst University with a degree in business and a minor in philosophy. He is currently the owner of 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.” 


Tarwater says the city needs to build a jail. The city closed its jail in 2015 and started sending detainees to county jails, including Jackson County. However, criminals who commit small crimes, such as robberies and burglaries, are generally not held. “There are no consequences to their crimes,” he complains. Also, 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. 


 Tarwater says many of those living in a homeless camp need mental help and drug addiction intervention. He believes around 65 percent can get off the street with a helping hand. If placed in affordable housing, Tarwater says it should include “wrap around” services such as mental health and drug addiction therapy. He recognizes for some, affordable housing will never be the solution. “For many, their disease doesn’t allow them to be there.” He says those are the ones who need prescribed medication or addiction treatment.


Tarwater recognizes the ACLU’s claim that people have the right to panhandle. He recommends that panhandlers obtain a free city license to panhandle and 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 that provides assistance.  

Economic Development

“The life blood of our economy in the 6th 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.”

Johnathan Duncan

Johnathan Duncan, 37, is a freethinker with plenty of new ideas. Raised in Newton, Kansas, he can trace his ancestry to Hispanic and African American roots. Duncan fought in the Iraq War and attended the University of Kansas majoring in English. He is currently the Director of Operations for the VFW in Kansas City. He lives in the 49/63 Neighborhood Coalition.


Duncan is active with KC Tenants, assisting tenants with landlord issues. But he would like 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 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 prefer to see how the budget for the police department is structured to address the issue.


Duncan would like to see services for the homeless 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 more single penny of the 25 percent [state] requirement to our Kansas City police. And that we are using the other 5 percent allocated to the KCPD enforcement to address the underlying causes of houselessness.” 


Duncan would prefer the city have discussions with those who panhandle to get an understanding of the issue. “Panhandling is not their first choice for employment,” he says. He believes better job training initiatives will create opportunities so that they do not have to panhandle. 

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 business 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. 


1 thought on “Get to know your 6th District candidates

  1. Dan Tarwater has started using a the term “timeout” to refer to the practice of keeping people who have NOT be convicted of a crime in city/county jails. If you believe what we were taught were our rights that everyone has a right to an attorney, a speedy trial and being innocent until proven guilty, you have not been involved with the system. If you have enough money all those rights are yours to PAY for! If you do not have enough money you sit in JAIL without being convicted, without a lawyer and with bail that is unreasonable. I would rather my tax dollars as a homeowner and lifetime resident of KC would go to true solutions. FACT – if you have a safe place to live, you have a job for which you are amply compensated, you feel safe in the community and are not hungry you can thrive. Crime is high because people do not have those basic necessities of life. They can’t get jobs because the jobs are too far away and don’t pay enough to own and maintain a personal car, city transportation may be free but it is unreliable and they can’t live closer to the jobs because there is no affordable housing. The suburbs that were built after WWII for all the new families in 5th and 6th districts are becoming blighted, the city is not maintaining the infrastructure or working with the community to keep grocery stores, laundry mats and other essential businesses open in those areas. Too busy giving TAX incentives to big businesses claiming that will help all of KC- (sounds someone still believes in trickle down).

    I DO NOT WANT MY TAX dollars to go build a new JAIL so that the city and county can keep more UNCONVICTED people incarcerated.

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