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Abarca challenges incumbent Crowley for Jackson County Committee man

Manuel (Manny) Abarca IV doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty as he cleans up neighborhoods in the Kansas City, Missouri northeast community, or helping a neighbor when a tree has fallen in a storm. He is a person who wants to know his neighbors and likes to organize neighbors to help one another with projects or clean up in the aftermath of storms.

It is not a surprise to those who know him that he is running for Jackson County Democratic Committee man. Many that know him have suggested he run for a higher political office. He has tried that before and loss by a mere 19 votes, but for now, he is wanting to serve his neighbors in a position that allows him to work alongside them on projects.

“There are very few official duties as committee man. What I have been taught that a committee man or woman does is to pick people up to vote on election day and encourage people to register to vote,” he said.

Abarca is running against incumbent Sam Crowley, current Jackson County Democrat Committee man.

“He has been there for at least a decade. There has just been the same old politics of just showing up, barely. I believe that the committee man or woman should be the person out driving individuals to the polls, they are out registering people to vote before the time frame ends and they are ultimately inspiring voters to go to the ballot and vote,” he said.

As the primary election approaches on August 7, 2018 he wants to get his message out to the voters in the 12th Ward district.

“I have two campaign focuses this year…it is to register voters and to rebuild the shelter house in Budd Park,” said Abarca.

Two years ago, when he ran for State Representative, he went door to door talking to voters about why he was running for office.

“Two years ago, roughly 770 people made the decision on which candidate would be in office. They made the decision for the 35,000 people in the community. In this race there will be about 375 people who will decide the committee man. There are not enough people engaged in the voting process to really make a significant change,” he said.

The neighborhood that he would engage is the Indian Mound, Gladstone and Lykins communities. The neighborhood demographics have changed over the last several decades. The Indian Mound neighborhood is about 80 plus Latinos. He is ready to challenge himself and the individuals and families in the northeast area to get involved with their neighbors, volunteer on service projects and get engaged in the voter process.

“Two years ago, the main shelter house in Budd Park was burnt down due to arsonist. It has never been rebuilt. That is my goal for the community, is to get a shelter house built there again. Why can’t we just get together as a community and rebuild the shelter. It may be $1,000 in lumber and hours of man work, but we can do it, it is not a hard thing,” he said.

He learned from his father and grandfather that having a good work ethic was important and that you need to roll up your sleeves and get involved with others. “They said you can’t just show up and point and say this is what needs to be done, you have to actually do that stuff and be there with the people. That is how you are going to accomplish what needs to be done and you set an example for others.”

If he is elected as a committee man, he wants people to know that he will be in the community on a regular basis. He enjoys talking with people on how they see their neighborhoods and what improvements they may want to tackle.

He worked on the Save Thacher, Save Our Schools campaign in Kansas City, Missouri; Vacant Lot Task Force, Latino Civic Engagement Collaborative, and has served on several boards, such as Historic Kansas City Foundation, Young Latino Professionals, Urban Summit Young Professionals and Engage KC Leadership Board.

“I believe if you give people a reason to vote, a person to vote for and that person shows them that he said what he is going to do, then people have a reason to go back to the polls. I think people are losing faith in the government bureaucracy that exists,” he said.

As he campaigns, he will be knocking on every door in Ward 12. “I want their support for the committee man seat and I plan to help people to register to vote. I want them to know that they have a voice and they can use their voting power to get their voices heard,” said Abarca.

Neighborhoods become communities when neighbors talk to one another, look out for one another, and come together not only in crisis times, but in celebrations. In the Northeast section of Kansas City, undocumented people live in the neighborhoods, but Abarca wants everyone to realize that even though they can’t register to vote, they can have a voice in what happens in their neighborhood.

“They pay taxes, they shop at the grocery store and gas station, their children attend school. They can show up and participate in politic forums, they can voice their opinions, they can come to neighborhood events and participate and engage with one another. They live in our community and we have to represent them as well even though they are voiceless,” he said.

It is his goal to empower people and show them that he is a man of his word. He will do what he tells them he will do. He has no campaign promises other than engaging people to get registered to vote and turn out on election day to make a difference.

As he runs for committee man he is taking steps to show voters that he will stand by his word of helping to improve their neighborhood and bring back a park that plays an important role in the quality of life for the families that live nearby.

“Rebuilding the shelter house in Budd Park is my focus. That shelter house was used by families for celebrations and now it is an empty concrete pad in the park. I want you to come out and help me build it. I don’t have the funds to do this, but let’s do this together, as a neighborhood and as a community,” said Abarca.