Few journalists have covered one of the most significant aspects of the mayoral primary in Kansas City, Kan.
Many people have covered the story about Mayor Joe Reardon not running for re-election. Few have mentioned that the UG Commission has just lost a commissioner with 18 years of experience, 1st District Commissioner Nathan Barnes. He had the most experience of any candidates running for election this year.
Barnes ran for mayor and came in a close third, but did not make it to the general election. Because his commission term also is expiring, he will not be returning to the commission after the new commission takes office. I tried to call all the candidates after the primary, but apparently had technical difficulties with the phone and was unable to get through for a comment. He attended last Thursday’s commission meeting, but did not make any public remarks on his campaign.
Barnes had been on the commission for so long that any potential flaws in a proposed plan were readily apparent to him.
For example, he was the only one on the commission to speak up when the Google Fiber proposal went through, fast-tracked and secretive. The company got the UG to agree that it would waive a lot of the paperwork that utility companies normally have to complete and some of the fees, and could fast-track their projects. Barnes expressed his concerns about various aspects of it, including the UG’s waiver of fees. That meant that all of the taxpayers were in effect paying something to a private company that had competition here, but not all of the citizens would be able to afford the service. The connection fees in particular bothered him, as not all people could afford it.
Barnes remarked at a recent meeting that he would have plenty to do, because he is a small businessman, and that it actually might help his business if he didn’t go on trips to conventions of the League of Cities and other associations.
I did not publicly endorse any of the mayoral candidates this year because I thought they all could probably have done a good job as mayor. They are all well-educated and care a lot about the community. But they are sort of like the story of seven blindfolded people standing around the same elephant (not meant to be a partisan reference) and describing it differently. One says it’s tall, one says it weighs a lot, one describes the trunk, one talks about its ears. Or maybe it’s like asking whether a glass is half-empty or half-full. Is the city one thing or another? No, it is all of those different aspects.
I agree with a previous columnist who thought Mayor Joe Reardon was a great mayor. For all those people calling and asking what Mayor Reardon will do after he leaves office and offering their opinions, that question was still unanswered as of last week. I have asked the mayor after his announcement, and again last week, and he does not have a comment on it.
I also thought the election commissioner and staff, along with UG staff, did a great job in handling a blizzard on primary Election Day. There’s not much you can do about a blizzard, but by extending advance voting hours on Monday, it helped increase the turnout a little.
If you missed voting in the primary election because of the election and if you are afraid that there might be a tornado on the general Election Day, April 2, you can contact the election office to get an advance ballot and mail it in early. Any registered voter may vote in advance for any reason.
Kansas has advance voting for any registered voters who want to vote in advance of the April 2 general election. Advance voting begins on Tuesday, March 19, and will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on holidays. Advance voting will end at noon on Monday, April 1.
Mailed ballots must be returned and in the Election Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Election Commissioner Bruce Newby stated. The deadline to apply for an advance ballot by mail is Thursday, March 28. The deadline would usually be on Friday, but that Friday is a holiday on the Unified Government calendar.
Newby stated that voters should not wait until the deadline. With the changes to delivery schedules planned by the Postal Service, a ballot request received at the deadline will go into the mail the same day. But there is no certainty that the voter will receive the ballot by mail with sufficient time to mark it and return it by 7 p.m. on Election Day, he stated. Ballots received in the election office after 7 p.m. are late ballots and are not counted, according to the election commissioner.
On a sad note, earlier this week I said goodbye to my uncle Larry, who died just a few days before he reached his 90th birthday. A native of Kansas City, Kan., he had a small business in Kansas City, Kan., for 48 years before he retired. He was a very hard-working person and a good family man, who will be missed.
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