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Four opponents will challenge Mayor Mark Holland for office in Primary Election

Kansas City, Kansas/Wyandotte County Mayor Mark Holland is running for re-election in the August 1 Primary, but he isn’t the only one that has filed for the Mayor’s seat.

He has four opponents who would like to see him leave office and be a one-term Mayor. A common thread in the four candidates answers –tax payers shouldn’t be paying for Mayor Holland’s security detail, government leaders claiming reduction in property taxes, but hitting homeowners with higher city taxes on Board of Public Utilities bills; and they feel that Mayor Holland has a closed door policy to his community and spending funds that do not benefit the residents.

Challengers are David Alvey, current member of the Board of Public Utilities, Kansas State Senator David Haley, Janice Grant Witt, business owner and political newcomer D. Keith Jordan, also known as “T-Bone” on the Johnny Dare morning radio show KQRC-FM will be on the Primary ballot.

The Primary will pare down the list from five candidates to two candidates who will then run for office in the General election in November.
David Alvey decided to make a difference in his city, where his family has lived and worked for generations, by putting his name into the Mayor’s race after becoming disappointed in Mayor Holland.

“I have been disappointed in the way that Mark Holland has laid additional burdens on the taxpayers of the UG (Unified Government) and the ratepayers of the BPU. For instance, Mayor Holland recently led the effort to force the taxpayers of Wyandotte County to pay the utility bills of the T-Bones baseball team, and he earlier led the effort to force us to pay over $5,000,000 for the burying of electrical infrastructure along Leavenworth Road. He has also required us to pay $250,000 per year in a security detail that mainly serves as his personal bodyguard. These costs fall unfairly on us, the citizens of Wyandotte County, and we have much more urgent priorities to address. I will fight to encourage new development that serves the needs of residents, and not just the developers,” said Alvey.

When Hispanic News asked Alvey if it is time for the Mayor’s office to put the focus not only on economic development but also on the needs of its citizens, he replied, “I have heard consistently from folks across Kansas City, Kansas/Wyandotte County that Mayor Holland has lost sight of the fundamental job of good government: that is, it should serve the citizens. All development in KCK/Wyandotte County should enable developers to make a fair profit, but at the same time reduce the heavy tax burden on us citizens. Mark Holland’s deal to bail out the T-Bones demonstrates that he does not understand this basic idea: development should serve the needs of citizens, and citizens should not be asked to serve developers,” stressed Alvey.

If voters select him to serve as Mayor, his top priority is to identify and prioritize the funding needs of the community over a three to five year period.

“I will work with the Commission and UG department heads to develop a plan to improve services to the community and at the same time provide tax relief that will encourage the development of new housing and businesses,” he said.

He plans to be a Mayor for all residents of the city and listening to the needs of the residents and business owners he serves.

“I look forward to hearing and serving the needs of residents first and foremost. The development in the City and County are great improvements in our community, but the promises of Consolidation and of paying off the STAR bonds have not been fulfilled. Mark Holland is shouting that the “City” property tax rate is the lowest in 50 years, but that is not the full truth: the “County” levy is 50 percent higher now than in 1995, and the PILOT on the BPU bill is 50 percent higher than it was just 8 years ago. Not only that, but our assessments have gone up, wiping out any help in lowering the City levy. We have to do better than that, and we must do better than that if we want the City and County to keep our residents and attract new residents,” said Alvey.

Senator David Haley, District 4 has served in the state of Kansas for over two decades and before he put his name on the election ballot, he thought long and hard about what it would mean to him and his community if he steps into the role of Wyandotte County next Mayor and leaves the Kansas Senate.

“It was a difficult decision for me, a twenty plus year veteran of state government, as a state senator to file for Mayor to lead our local government. I believe that Wyandotte County is at a good time in our history and that we are on a good path. We are financially stable, our image as a destination county of Kansas is secure, we have tremendous opportunity to recognize and live out our full potential. As good a job as Mayor Holland has done as a place holder, he has inherited the well-nurtured investment made at Village West, Mayor Holland inherited the responsibility of doing something meaningful with this nurtured investment, and as good as Mr. Alvey, who chaired the BPU, our utility company, which has inflicted massive fees, city fees, if you will on his watch, on the rate payers, neither of them, have a vision for immediately uplifting our historic and sometimes our blighted parts of our county,” he said.

Senator Haley feels that the Mayor’s office needs to focus on the disenfranchise and overlooked communities of Wyandotte County.

“Holland, Alvey, Brownback and Trump… these executives understand the issues of health, economic and social disparity, they know it, they articulate it, but after the election they do very little about it. The access to public safety and access to healthy foods, the environmental shock of living in certain communities, can be addressed by a leader who would be for all the people. We need to support our large and small businesses, we need to give opportunities to our small businesses that could open up some of the storefronts that sit boarded up and help our historic homes through renovation. It is about getting things done, moving in that direction, that is our focus,” he said.

Haley has kept his focus on running a positive campaign for office, and hopes to make cuts that would help the budget. One cut that he foresees happening if elected Mayor would be cutting the security detail that works for Mayor Holland.

“If I am elected Mayor of Kansas City, Kansas I will not need bodyguards to travel throughout the city with me 24/7. I am mindful that we live in a dangerous world, that there are people all around us, I am not saying no security, but I intend to be more accessible in my administration. One of the hallmarks of Mayor Reardon was he made himself available at City Hall to meet with citizens to discuss issues of concern to them. If elected, I will reinstate a traditional time slot for anyone in Wyandotte County to meet with me one on one to discuss a concern or a goal they have for our city,” stated Haley.

He told Hispanic News that his focus will be on making the corridors of Kansas City, Kansas inviting not only to its citizens but to those traveling through the city.

“There is no attention paid to my district and there are so many arteries coming in and out of Kansas City, Kansas and it is as if we are a tale of two cities. Take a picture when I go into office and four years from now, the pledge that I have is for a difference for our main corridors that show an entire county under growth. I enjoy some of the plans that have been proposed. We have heard about the healthy campus. I would like to review those and other major projects. We don’t need to start over. I want to build on the strengths previous administrations have done and my strengths will be on small business administration, our streets and our corridors and developing those as well,” he said.

Janice Witt ran for Mayor four years ago and lost but that hasn’t stopped her from throwing her name into the race again and standing up for the wrongs she sees in the community.

“Taxes are too high, BPU is too high, crime is too high, and none of the politicians care. Broken promises are too common, and there is no relief in sight,” she said.

As she campaigns for the Mayor’s seat, she plans to lower taxes. “I believe that BPU has been allowed to run Rough Shod over this county. BPU taxes us and calls it a PILOT. City Hall taxes us and calls it a levee. It is still a tax and the citizens that I talk to say we have had enough. We are not afraid of taxes; if we were we would move. We just want them to be fair and for everyone to pay their fair share. For goodness sakes, stop giving everything away with no obligation to better our community. It is time for the Economic Growth to include the actual people of this community. The taxes need to be reduced and the BPU attacks across this community must stop,” said Witt.

If the voters choose to elect her into office, Witt said it will be a doors wide open policy to the people of Kansas City, Kansas.

“I will be honored to sit elected to hear their voice and ensure that their voices are heard. I am applying to be a public servant for the people of KCK communities. I will not hide from those who need to reach me,” she said.

As a life-long resident of Wyandotte County, Witt doesn’t feel that the Mayor’s office needs to have a security detail in place.

“The Mayor now has one million dollars worth of taxpayer Security following him around every single day. The taxpayers will lower the budget by one million when they elect Witt as Mayor,” she stated.

D. Keith Jordan has grown up on the southeastern side of Wyandotte County and watched western Wyandotte County change into a booming business community, but he can’t say the same for the area he grew up in.

“For a vast number of years now, this side of the county has been ignored. The time has come that we need something done. The southeastern side of the county is falling apart, homes are falling apart, and storefronts are empty. When President Obama gave his goodbye speech, he said if you want to see change instead of complaining…do something, run for a local office, get involved and I decided I have time I can run for office and make a difference,” said Jordan.

Even though Wyandotte County has seen an economic boom take place, Jordan still feels that government can do a better job of helping its citizens.

“We still have a lack of grocery stores. We have areas in disarray. We have buildings sitting empty. We should be looking at our local businesses. We should be helping the people who have small businesses and they may be running them out of their homes. We should help them get into some of our empty buildings. Look at Strong Avenue in the Argentine community, there are a large number of empty businesses that have just been sitting empty for a long time. Why can’t we help people get into those buildings? That may help them expand their business and hire people from the community,” he said.

If he were elected as Mayor, he would like to see a program installed to help the youth of the community stay on a positive path in life.

“Not everyone learns the same way…some kids can learn by reading books while other kids learn better with hands on teaching. I would like to see a program where children who may have committed some crimes, stay in school and keep up with their lesson plans, but would be under house arrest and they are checked on by a police officer. On the weekend, I would like to see the kids then go into a facility that houses them, they have no access to cell phones. They are in a program with a therapist that would help them with anger issues, or mental health problems, but then we also take these kids and get them into programs that would teach them a trade, so when they get out of high school, they can enter the work place and have goals. We need to give these kids hope,” he said.

If elected to office, he would be an open door Mayor to those he serves. As he drives throughout Wyandotte County, he has stopped to talk with people.

“I have been talking with people one on one and also in groups. I think that would be the type of Mayor I would be, it is about the people in the county. A Mayor trying to run a business doesn’t work. People are not a commodity,” he said.

Jordan talked about how Wyandotte County has improved with businesses and growth, but he knows that when people say Wyandotte County there is still a negative image and he wants to change that.

“Some have called it Crime Dotte, I live in Turner and for 40 years Highland Crest was also called things like Harlem Crest, we need to change that. People refer to Wyandotte County as Village West, but there is so much more to the county than that,” he said.

Next week we will feature Mayor Mark Holland as he runs for his second term in office. His vision in his second term of office is economic prosperity and growth in every corner of the county. Citizens in Wyandotte County have been waiting a long time for the tide to turn from Village West and to developing other neighborhoods. We will ask him for specific details and ensure it is not just campaign promises.