Voters will go to the polls Tuesday, Feb. 26, in a primary election for Unified Government mayor and commissioners.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and since it is a nonpartisan election, registered voters of all parties and unaffiliated registered voters may cast a ballot. Voters need to bring identification such as a driver’s license to the polls.
For more information, visit www.wyandottedailynews.com, visit the left side of the home page under Election 2013 and click on questionnaires and earlier stories. There is also an interview program with the mayoral candidates from KCPT’s “Week in Review” posted on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gvv9rYhJYc.
Also, more information is available on polls, locations and hours at www.wycokck.org/election, or by calling the election commissioner's office at 913-573-8500.
Following is a little information on the candidates (in alphabetical order):
Unified Government Mayor
Nathan Barnes, 58, a small businessman, has served as a Unified Government Commissioner from the 1st District for four terms. He was first elected to the city council in 1995, then elected to the UG Commission in 1997, in all, serving 17 years.
His reasons for running include: “To make Wyco a better place to live and work; to diversify our tax base and the work place with more blue collar and white collar jobs for Wyandotte County residents. To continue and extend the growth and success established in Wyandotte County’s north into all areas of Wyandotte County.”
His top campaign issue is taxes, he said. If budget constraints face local governments, one area that could be cut would be farming out prisoners.
Barnes said that to move forward, there needs to be a unifying spirit in Wyandotte County, and he represents that unifying spirit.
He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
He is a past chairman of the Public Works and Safety Committee, and has been a member of the Neighborhood and Community Development Committee. He has served on committees for the Mid-America Regional Council. He also has served on the Wyandotte County Historical Board, president, and the Convention and Visitors Board, the Workforce Investment Area III board, is a past board member of Avenue Area Inc., and is a past chairman of the Boys and Girls Club Advisory Board.
Mark Holland, 43, the senior pastor of Trinity Community Church, is currently serving as commissioner at-large, 1st District. He was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.
His reasons for running include: “I believe Kansas City, Kansas has come a long way since unification in 1997. I believe we need strong leadership to carry us forward into the next chapter. Kansas City, Kan., is coming of age and ready to be a full partner in the metropolitan area.”
His accomplishments include bringing 6,000 permanent high quality new jobs to the community; helping to open four new grocery stores; and help keeping the UG focused on public safety and infrastructure.
His top campaign issues include: “Connecting our citizens to the 6,000 new, world class jobs at GM, KU, Cerner, and the casino. Connecting the pay off of the STAR bonds to real property tax relief. Connecting our citizens to healthier neighborhoods with improved infrastructure, grocery stores, and healthy living options. Connecting every home that wants it with Internet for access to jobs, education, and healthy living.”
Holland holds a Doctor of Ministry degree, a Master of Divinity, and bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and anthropology.
He has served on the Mount Carmel Redevelopment Corp. Board, the Mayor’s Task Force on Law Enforcement, the Wyandotte Interfaith Sponsoring Council, and the Kansas City, Kan. Rotary Club. He received the Emanuel Cleaver II Community Service Award in 2009.
Cordell Meeks III
Cordell Meeks III, 38, is the president and CEO of Meeks Multicultural Consulting Inc.
A lifelong resident of Kansas City, Kan., he attended the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools and has a bachelor’s degree in intercultural communications from the University of Kansas. Meeks is chairman of the Human Relations Commission and serves on the Law Enforcement Advisory Board, United Way board, Boys and Girls Club board and El Centro.
His reasons for running include: “I believe, that with the help of business and community leaders and the input of our citizens, I can lead our community to the next level of success in economic development and education.”
He said his top issues include: “Promote economic development that benefits all areas of Wyandotte County. Leverage the arrival of Google and Cerner to bring in more new, high-wage jobs. Protect county citizens by supporting police and firefighters. Safe streets create healthier neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for all residents. Prioritize education by fully supporting the school district's push for excellence. Increase job training so more KCK residents qualify to successfully fill new jobs. Produce balanced budgets that keep property taxes low while filling potholes and building new streets and sidewalks.”
Meeks said his experience in working with companies on diversity could be of help to the community making differences work for it.
“I am a political outsider but a community insider so I bring new, fresh ideas on how to improve our community,” he said.
It is his first time running for public office.
Ann Murguia, 44, the executive director of the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association, is currently serving as UG Commissioner, 3rd District. She was elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.
Reasons for running include: “As Mayor, I want to contribute in a positive and constructive manner to our government. I believe we have developed a model in the 3rd District that can be used throughout the county that will stimulate economic development in some of our most challenging neighborhoods while continuing the growth in the western half of our county. I will work with our neighborhood groups, labor, business and others to get things done. As Mayor, I will ensure the Unified Government provides good, open and honest government to everyone.”
Her top campaign issues: “Jobs, community and better government. I will create more jobs through economic development, continue to not raise property taxes, continue to respond to neighborhood concerns/issues, and continue to maintain adequate police and fire services.”
She listed her accomplishments in the 3rd District as millions in curb and sidewalk improvements, housing construction, retail development in Rosedale and a grocery store in Argentine, crime reduction and improved constituent services. Countywide accomplishments during the time she was on the commission include the new casino, the Cerner development and Sporting KC stadium, infrastructure and park improvements, crime reduction and improved constituent services.
Murguia serves on the Board of Trustees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Argentine Activities Association, Villa Argentine Neighborhood Association, Frontiers Project at KU Medical Center and Project Eagle.
Janice (Grant) Witt, 45, a native of Wyandotte County, has owned small businesses for more than 20 years, and enjoys farming.
Witt is a graduate of Washington High School, attended Sterling College, received a bachelor’s degree, and attended the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where she received a master’s degree in human resources, hospitality and service management. She is married to retired chiropractor Ron Witt. She was a substitute teacher locally while running her small businesses.
Her top campaign issue: “As mayor, I will ensure fair treatment and good customer service as a solid foundation. We will break the chains of corruption, greed, favoritism, nepotism, entitlement and the unfair tax and BPU practices that bind this community to poverty, poor health and poor education.”
Her reasons for running also include: “I want all of the people to have a voice, to have a seat at the table. … The people of Wyandotte County have been ignored long enough and I am running to represent the people.”
She is against increased taxes. She does not want the UG to give out tax breaks to corporations.
Witt previously ran unsuccessfully for Commissioner, 1st District at large, in 2011.
In the past year Witt has helped start a Civitan group for community service in Wyandotte County and has served as its president until stepping down to run for office.