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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Viable Third

A few years ago you may remember a project that airick leonard west started called the Viable Third. He and I pledged to spend all our discretionary money (groceries, gas, entertainment, clothes, etc.) only in the KCMO 3rd council district. We did it to demonstrate to those who live outside the district that it is a viable place, despite the violence and chaos that is its normal persona. I even took on a research project, the KC DrillDown, to demonstrate the economic viability of retail in the underserved urban core.

Having lived in the 3rd district for several years now (I include my part time life when I am not in NJ), I feel that the value of the district needs to be highlighted once again. The racism that is spewed on the internets at sites like TKC are very disturbing to me. The inability of City Hall to have ANY strategy to address improvement in the district is appalling. The level of violence in the district that is going unchecked is heartbreaking. There is an election in February for 2 council seats in the 3rd and 2 seats in every other district along with the Mayor. This is a crucial election. We can either solidify our worst behaviors and go back to the KC of not-so-long ago - openly racist and proud of it, or we can take the next step in the transformation of this city and follow the lead of the KCMO School District. That is the only entity in town that is getting it right. But as the resignation of Michelle Rhee and the mayoral loss in Washington, D.C. just showed us, transformation ruffles a lot of feathers and can be bounced quickly. People have to demand accountability from their officials, demand to be a priority, and follow-through by being engaged citizens.

Here is the Feb. 2011 political line-up so far and I expect that there will changes before the filing deadline which is Nov. 17, 2010. There is no official listing on the Election Board site yet. But here are the expectations from the political pundits and those who are campaigning.
3rd district - in district: Sharon Saunders Brooks (incumbent), Michael Fletcher
3rd district At-Large: Melba Curls (incumbent), Brandon Ellington

Mayor: Mark Funkhouser (incumbent), Sly James, Mike Burke, Deb Herman, Jim Rowland, Jonas Hughes.
Let me know who I have missed.

What I want to know from each of these candidates is:
1. what is your agenda to improve the 3rd district?
2. how will you go about building and implementing this agenda?
3. what is your number 1 priority for the 3rd district and why?
4. If an incumbent, list your accomplishments for bringing improvement to the district.
5. In 50 words or less, describe the 3rd district as you see it.

If every voter, blogger, media person, minister, school board member, business person, and others who have an interest in the 3rd district asked these simple, but pointed questions - we might actually have an election that means something. Feel free to appropriate these as your own and ask them whenever you have the chance.

I'm going to devote space on this blog to the viability of the 3rd district and the politics that surrounds it. But this is not just about who is running and what the latest political gossip is. I leave that to the other blogsters in KC. I want to raise issues and remind people outside of the 3rd district (who vote on the at-lard 3rd seat) that the district is much more than it seems. I am going to do a series of posts on the best spots and the best of history in the Viable Third from the perspective of an ally who lives in the district.

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