By Daryl Penner
On September 16, after a month or so of online voting on the Waldo Area Business Association website, the newly elected honorary Mayor of Waldo was announced at the Waldo Fall Festival. Many were nominated. Only the top 3 (including a dog) moved on to the final vote. Realtor George Medina got a majority of the approximate 15,000 votes cast in the general election. (Anyone, anywhere could vote.) His term lasts one year.
“I hope to attend local meetings and public events at every chance I get,” he says. “I’ve lived here all my life and I’m gonna do Waldo right. I’m not just going to sit around.”
Despite his promise, there are no official duties, privileges or power attached to the position. Prior to September 2023, the Honorary Mayor was always a board member of the Waldo Area Business Association representing the 600 businesses and 13,000 residents of Waldo. (WaldoKC.org represents the area from 91st Street to Gregory Blvd, State Line to Holmes Road). This year, for the first time, they opened up nominations to the general public.
Medina is in good company. Across the United States, there have been hundreds of honorary mayors throughout the years, including such luminaries as Clint Eastwood, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bob Saget and Billy Crystal. Often, non-celebrities, including philanthropists or other community volunteers, are voted into the position.
“I’m excited for the future. These are my people. This is my DNA. I have Waldo in my blood,” says Medina. He admits he no longer lives in Waldo but in Brookside, on the boundary. “I still do many things in Waldo, including having my office there,” he says.
Most people driving down Wornall are familiar with his Medina Team real estate billboard near 72nd and Wornall Road which usually features a picture of him and his daughter. For the past few months, the billboard was used for his campaign as mayor.
When Medina was five years old, his family moved to Waldo at 77th and Madison around 1960. Medina and his five siblings attended St. Elizabeth’s Grade School and Bishop Hogan High School. That’s where he met his Irish-Catholic wife, (Mary Elizabeth who goes by Betsy). They had two daughters. His wife retired about nine months ago from Indigo Wild after about 25 years.
“I never went to college, because I wasn’t really that studious and with six kids, my parents couldn’t afford to help me out financially,” says Medina. During his 20 years selling wholesale liquor, Medina started dabbling in real estate part-time in 1997. Ten years later he went full-time and within another five years, he ranked #1 agent at Reece Nichols. His daughter Eli joined him in 2012.
After his mayoral victory, Medina invited about 50 of his friends and supporters to have free pizza and beer at Waldo Pizza and Johnny Kaw’s to celebrate. Even Kansas City Mayor Lucas called to congratulate him on his win.
“I’m just honored to be an honorary representative of the residents and businesses,” he says. “I’m not the boss. The people are the boss.”
Which made him remember something. “I need to go, because my wife called, and I’ve gotta get the dishes done before she gets home,” he quickly says. “She’s my boss.”