Add Alissia Canady’s name to the list of City Council members vying to be the next mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.
With current Mayor Sly James reaching his term limit, there will be a new mayor in 2019. With Canady officially joining the fray, that makes five current KCMO City Council members who are running for mayor: Canady, 1st District Councilman Scott Wagner, 3rd District Councilman Jermaine Reed, 4th District Councilwoman Jolie Justus and 6th District Councilman Scott Taylor.
Despite the crowded field – which also includes three candidates from outside the City Council – Canady said during her June 5 mayoral announcement at Ilus Davis Park that she doesn’t expect political ambitions to negatively affect the work at City Hall.
“I think anybody that wants to be Mayor needs to continue to do what’s in the best interest of the City,” Canady said. “That how I expect us to work together.”
Canady, a Northeast High School graduate, is positioning herself as a champion for working class voters in Kansas City. During her announcement speech on June 5, Canady cited mental health services, affordable housing and tighter restrictions on incentive projects among her top priorities.
Along with the announcement of her mayoral run, Canady also announced her Grow KC Together Initiative, which she said will aim to create inclusive economic development in Kansas City’s urban core through an infusion of new policies, funding and leadership. Though specific legislation has yet to be announced, Canady did say that she will support efforts to add more inclusionary zoning throughout the city.
Other priorities of the initiative were teased throughout her mayoral announcement. In discussing the need for more affordable housing in Kansas City, Canady relayed a story from her own childhood.
“My mom, Regina Canady, was a teen mom. A single mom raising three children, and doing the best she can. That’s where I have the compassion and conviction I have for this community; because of how I grew up,” Canady said. “Because there is not a shortage in Kansas City. There’s a disproportionate allocation in Kansas City. So we’re going to deal with that.”
Canady also relayed a theme from conversations with constituents that has stuck with her.
“I talk to many of my constituents who say, ‘This is all I can afford, but my kids can’t go outside and play in the yard because of the gunshots,’” she said. “That’s not okay in Kansas City.”
In discussing Kansas City’s homicide rate, Canady stressed the need for Kansas City to provide additional support to those who are left behind in the wake of violence – citizens she dubbed the “silent victims in our community.”
“We treat the flesh wound, we bury the dead, but we don’t provide adequate support for the mental health of those people who have been impacted,” Canady said.
Touching on incentives, Canady criticized subsidies for projects like Two Light, the luxury housing development which opened to residents this spring. Earlier this year, Canady joined 4th District Councilwoman Katheryn Shields in vocal opposition to continued City subsidies for Cordish Company, the developer of the One Light and Two Light developments. The efforts of Shields and Canady helped the City re-negotiate the terms of an onerous 99-year development agreement with Cordish that will still leave the City paying $17.5 million for a parking garage at the pending Three Light development.
“That building was built with taxpayer subsidies. The revenue for the tax abatement is diverted from the Jackson County Mental Health Fund,” Canady said of Two Light. “We can’t continue to build on the backs of the poor. It’s only funded at $8 million a year, and we continue to divert revenue away from that fund every time we issue abatements. We can’t continue to do that in Kansas City.”
According to Canady, the City is well-equipped to address her biggest campaign priorities; Leaders at City Hall just need to prioritize those issues.
“What I’ve learned in my time on this Council is when the administration makes it a priority, it happens,” Canady said. “As your Mayor, these things will continue to be my priority and we will make it happen.”