There’s a lot happening in Kansas City. From new stadiums and parks over interstates to programs providing jobs for people experiencing homelessness, it seems like the city is announcing something new every week.
With so much going on, we wanted to meet the people steering this ship we call home. That’s why we talked with KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas — to learn about how his personal experiences and desires for the city fuel real-life policy.
1. How do your passions show through things happening in the city?
On infrastructure [...] we had no real way that we were addressing certain operations, whether it be pothole filling or snow removal [...] You’re seeing us not just doing pothole fills, but instead, substantial resurfacing [...] I’m very proud of that because if you do the basics right, people are going to trust you when you’re trying to do big things like solar panels, like electric vehicles, like zero-fare transit.
Housing’s always been an issue for me because I grew up housing insecure, although we didn’t call it that in the last millennium. Instead you were just broke. I got to see how much it relates to literally everything else. I certainly can make sure that we have children that have more stability in their lives [...] that aren’t moving three or four times in a school year, which happened in my own life [...] Through our substantial and historic investments for this city and in this region for housing (he mentioned the Affordable Housing Trust Fund), we are making an incredible difference in the world.
In terms of taking care of our staff, I grew up the child of a government worker, my mom worked for the state of Missouri [...] They do not take care of their employees like they need to [...] I wanted to say something different for Kansas City. Anybody who wears a fountain patch on their dickeys or on their shirt or on anything like that, I want people to be just as proud to work for us as they are to work for Garmin or Cerner.
2. How does it feel to you to see what has changed from when you grew up?
First of all, it feels good, it makes my heart happy. But I say this a lot — Kansas City, it’s not like we’ve never put money into the East Side before [...] People were doing stuff, I think the question just was over the years, is it the right stuff long term? And I think that’s a question for all of us in government.
I hope that when they look back on this era, they saw that we invested in core basics [...] because the way you build a great community isn’t just building one cool thing every two ore three years [...] When I got elected mayor, people asked me, ‘OK, what’s your big thing going to be?’ I don’t need the Quinton Lucas racetrack [...] No, just that we made this a much better place to live, so working class people like I grew up can see that, in Kansas City, they can have a great life.
3. What big projects are you looking forward to in the near future?
We’re cognizant of the fact that the World Cup in 2026 is coming, and I think all of us count back from there and to see what do we want to see improved by then? We want to certainly make sure that our housing is exceptional. How are we building out our infrastructure network as we explore things like east-west rail through the city, so that finally when we talk about real investment, there isn’t that Troost divide.
I think we will continue to see more businesses interested in coming to Kansas City. You’re seeing substantial work downtown and the riverfront. We’re talking about a new stadium [...] so I look forward to more of that ahead. I think that’s what the real legacy will be, that this was a time of exceptional growth in Kansas City, coming out of a pandemic and at a time where we weren’t expecting it.