In election campaigns, first impressions are important. In the Kansas City mayor's race, with only a two month campaigning season, it's even more important. So let's take a minute to consider first impressions.
Consider Thursday evening's forum at the Bruce Watkins Center, sponsored by the NAACP. For many in the audience, this might have been the first and only time they heard a mayoral candidate. And with such a large field of candidates, each must try to capture the audience's attention right from the start. So in this forum, each candidate was given 2 minutes to make that first impression.
The best short presentations, to my ears: Henry Klein, Alvin Brooks, Janice Ellis and Katheryn Shields.
Klein: He made gave an outline of 3 issues he was stressing: schools, crime and jobs. That's easily understood.
Brooks: He gave his usual line that this time in Kansas City is "the best of times and the worst of times." Then he explained it -- the best is downtown's renaissance, the worst is the neglect in neighborhoods. Very pointed.
Ellis: She got the most done in two minutes. She gave a short synopsis of her poor Southern childhood, shifted gears to a plan for the city, then focused on one issue she wants to change: education. Powerful.
Shields: She presented her 3 priorities in a smoother way than Klein. They were: neighborhood basic services, property code enforcement and preventive street maintenance. She might have gone over the edge a bit with the line, "We need to be a city with no potholes." (That's hardly possible with our weather.) But you can't deny that she is a very smooth politician.
Now for the rest.
Becky Nace and Mark Funkhouser: They meandered a bit and didn't hone in on any memorable slogans or points. Nace came close with a line about wanting the city to get its "fiscal house in order," but then moved on to something else. Funkhouser, meanwhile, might be struggling with his presentation. At the first mayoral forums, he displayed more of a commanding presence. Now he's more soft spoken. Maybe that's by design, but it doesn't help him stand out of the crowd.
Chuck Eddy made points about his experience and about how an improved downtown will improve the lives of all Kansas Citians. But his remarks didn't make the turn into "why you should vote for me."
Several candidates were not at this forum: Albert Riederer, John Fairfield and John DiCapo. Jim Glover arrived after the opening statements.
Then there's Stan Glazer. He likes to shoot from the hip. But at times his bullets can stray. On this night, in describing his background, he made this point: "I kept the Union Station from being torn down in 1971." Well, I happened to write the only book about Union Station's long history. It includes lots of verbiage about preservation efforts from the 1970s through the 1990s. Glazer isn't mentioned anywhere in the book. If I missed something in the boxes of documents I compiled and the dozens of interviews I conducted, I apologize.
Posted by Jeffrey Spivak