“…What they’re trying to do is tell you, stop worrying about guns. What they’re trying to do is tell you, nah, nah, you’re not empowered to make a difference…”
Wednesday evening on the Penn Valley campus of the Metropolitan Community Colleges Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D) hosted a town hall of sorts on gun violence. The community event included elected officials, law enforcement officials, and leaders of community groups.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
…What you are seeing on the streets, and I know there are a lot of victims, there are a lot of people touched, but I know in the community I’m from you are seeing nothing less, nothing short of a mass genocide. Right? You are seeing nothing short of a devaluing of lives, particularly in black lives. And what we’re seeing in our community is consistently, year after year, is people that are trying to tell us that doesn’t matter. That it doesn’t need to change. What I’m saying right now is, no, it does. It does…
…You know what I want the next group of people to say [in the future]? To say, wow, it’s different now…
I love you Kansas City. For the last 20 years I have dedicated my life to making this city a better place. For the last 250 days I’ve had the honor and privilege of traveling to every corner of this great community — talking to our neighbors and connecting with thousands of residents about the future of our home.
We walked the length of the city. We took the time to tour neighborhoods with leaders who work hard every day to build a better community. One neighbor called it – leadership by walking around. We saw first hand what we are getting right — and got an up close look at the problems we still need to solve.
Through it all we were always able to find that Kansas City Spirit. A pride that is bigger than all of us. A desire to make sure that Kansas City’s success continues in every neighborhood.
Along the way, people stepped up to help. We shared a vision. While we didn’t get the outcome we wanted in this election, that vision has not changed.
Thank you to the Justus League and all our generous supporters. Your time, generosity, sweat and passion were felt throughout the city and I appreciate each and every one of you.
So what’s next? First and foremost, I won’t disengage and neither should you. We must support our city’s leaders and keep working to move our city forward. I know that’s exactly what you will do.
Kansas City is on a roll – and we are just getting started. I know you love this city as much as I do and I know you have it in you to stay in the game. Let’s dig deep and make sure we build the safe, diverse, and equitable city that we deserve.
Quinton grew up in Kansas City’s urban core. Raised by a single mother and two older sisters, he learned from an early age the values of hard work, education, and perseverance in building a stable and successful life for himself and his family. Despite experiencing homelessness as a child and moving frequently, Quinton worked to obtain academic scholarships to high school, college, and ultimately law school at Cornell University.
After graduating from Cornell, Quinton turned down job offers at large law firms in New York City and Washington, DC to return home to Kansas City where he practiced law and taught in area prisons. At age 28, Quinton earned a professorship at the University of Kansas, making him one of the youngest tenure-track law professors in the United States. An accomplished business lawyer and teacher, Quinton also volunteers extensively in the community with schools and organizations. Because he never met his own father, Quinton regularly mentors young men and women in some of the neighborhoods in which he grew up to ensure young people recognize their potential.
Elected citywide in 2015, Quinton has been a leading voice on the City Council, working with local businesses to drive private investment and grow jobs in our city, particularly in economically distressed areas, championing efforts to ensure quality housing opportunities exist in all Kansas City neighborhoods, leading a once-in-a-generation reform of the City’s tax incentive policy to return public dollars to our schools and libraries in every part of Kansas City, and working each day to ensure the city delivers the basic services taxpayers expect, provides competitive wages to all our municipal employees, and operates in a fair, equitable, and transparent manner.
He knows our region will only grow stronger with leaders who maintain our momentum, have experience and interest in creating positive policies and collaboration at City Hall, have demonstrated an ability to work with citizens in all parts of the city, and who recognize that Kansas City will only be at its best if we look to build better opportunities in all Kansas City neighborhoods.
About four months ago, I contacted the VA to get help. It had been about 11 years since I left Afghanistan as an Army Intelligence Officer, and my tour over there still impacted me every day. So many men and women who served our country did so much more than me and were in so much more danger than I was on my four-month tour. I can’t have PTSD, I told myself, because I didn’t earn it.
But, on some level, I knew something was deeply wrong, and that it hadn’t felt that way before my deployment. After 11 years of this, I finally took a step toward dealing with it, but I didn’t step far enough.
I went online and filled out the VA forms, but I left boxes unchecked – too scared to acknowledge my true symptoms. I knew I needed help and yet I still stopped short. I was afraid of the stigma. I was thinking about what it could mean for my political future if someone found out.
That was stupid, and things have gotten even worse since.
By all objective measures, things have been going well for me the past few months. My first book became a New York Times Bestseller in August. Let America Vote has been incredibly effective, knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors and making hundreds of thousands of phone calls. I know that our work is making a big difference. And last Tuesday, I found out that we were going to raise more money than any Kansas City mayoral campaign ever has in a single quarter. But instead of celebrating that accomplishment, I found myself on the phone with the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line, tearfully conceding that, yes, I have had suicidal thoughts. And it wasn’t the first time.
I’m done hiding this from myself and from the world. When I wrote in my book that I was lucky to not have PTSD, I was just trying to convince myself. And I wasn’t sharing the full picture. I still have nightmares. I am depressed.
Instead of dealing with these issues, I’ve always tried to find a way around them. Most recently, I thought that if I could come home and work for the city I love so much as its mayor, I could finally solve my problems. I thought if I focused exclusively on service to my neighbors in my hometown, that I could fill the hole inside of me. But it’s just getting worse.
So after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it.
I finally went to the VA in Kansas City yesterday and have started the process to get help there regularly. To allow me to concentrate on my mental health, I’ve decided that I will not be running for mayor of Kansas City. I truly appreciate all the support so many people in Kansas City and across the country have shown me since I started this campaign. But I can’t work on myself and run a campaign the way I want to at the same time, so I’m choosing to work on my depression.
I’ll also be taking a step back from day-to-day operations at Let America Vote for the time being, but the organization will continue moving forward. We are doing vital work across the country to stop voter suppression and will keep doing so through November and beyond.
Having made the decision not to run for mayor, my next question was whether I would be public about the reason why. I decided to be public for two reasons: First, I think being honest will help me through this. And second, I hope it helps veterans and everyone else across the country working through mental health issues realize that you don’t have to try to solve it on your own. Most people probably didn’t see me as someone that could be depressed and have had PTSD symptoms for over decade, but I am and I have. If you’re struggling with something similar, it’s OK. That doesn’t make you less of a person.
I wish I would have sought help sooner, so if me going public with my struggle makes just one person seek assistance, doing this publicly is worth it to me. The VA Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255, and non-veterans can use that number as well.
I’ll close by saying this isn’t goodbye. Once I work through my mental health challenges, I fully intend to be working shoulder to shoulder with all of you again. But I’m passing my oar to you for a bit. I hope you’ll grab it and fight like hell to make this country the place we know it can be.
Jason Kander (D) – Warrensburg, Missouri – June 20, 2013.
A few of the responses on social media this afternoon:
Kathy Griffin @kathygriffin
Thank you for sharing your story @JasonKander…not an easy thing to do. I wish you all the best and look forward to your return when you’re ready.
[….] 1:44 PM – 2 Oct 2018
Jennifer Palmieri @jmpalmieri
@JasonKander is so talented & accomplished, could be hard to imagine he was enduring so much private pain, but I have seen it happen to a lot of folks in politics. You never know what’s happening in someone’s life. Be kind. Love to him and @dianakander
[….] 2:17 PM – 2 Oct 2018
Sarah Kendzior @sarahkendzior
I have so much respect for @JasonKander, a great Missourian. Wishing him the best during these hard times.
[….] 1:44 PM – 2 Oct 2018
Molly Knight @molly_knight
This will save lives. You are an extraordinary human, @jasonkander.
[….] 1:47 PM – 2 Oct 2018
Jason Kander @JasonKander
First conversation I had today:
“Daddy, why do you want to be mayor?”
“Because I love Kansas City and I want to help people.”
“Because Kanders help people, right?”
“Sure do, Bud.”
“Can I help you be mayor?”
“Ok I’m gonna help you help a lot of people!”
#TrueStory 9:51 AM – 25 Jun 2018
Kansas City, MO – Jason Kander today announced that he will kick off his campaign for mayor of Kansas City on July 14, 2018. Kander, a former Army captain who served in Afghanistan, previously served Kansas City in the state legislature and was elected Missouri Secretary of State in 2012.
“The next mayor has the opportunity to shape the future of Kansas City for generations,” Kander said. “I’m running because I am up for that challenge.”
“Kansas Citians deserve a mayor who can guide the progress already underway in our city and help us reach the next level. I’m eager to take the reins on major issues that have developed in recent years – like building the new airport, implementing the infrastructure improvements voters approved through the GO Bonds, and expanding the streetcar. And I want to make sure we continue addressing critical issues like economic inequality, crime, inclusive housing and economic development, and access to a quality education for every child in the city.
“But I also want to tackle problems that aren’t talked about enough, like the fact that too many streets in Kansas City aren’t well lit and are therefore less safe, and that too many residents don’t have convenient access to grocery stores, banks and other basic services. There should be more racial and gender equity in city contracts and programs. City services – from fixing bridges, roads and potholes to customer service across departments – can always be more efficient.
“We’ll know Kansas City is at its absolute best when no one feels they have to move from one part of the city to another, or out of town altogether, to live the life they want and deserve. I’m running for mayor of Kansas City because I want to make sure no matter where you live in the city or how you grew up, you have a chance to build a successful life right here. Under Mayor James’ leadership, Kansas City has made great progress, and it is crucial that whoever follows him builds on that success. That isn’t a short-term project, so our city needs a mayor committed to the job for the long haul. If I’m elected, Kansas Citians can count on me to work tirelessly for them every day for four years, and, if they’ll have me, four more years after that.
“Diana and I are proud to be raising our son as a sixth generation Kansas Citian. I want to do my part to make sure Kansas City is an even better place to live for him, and every other kid in our city, than it has been for my generation,” Kander said.
Kander has the support of leaders from across Kansas City.
“Kansas City deserves a Mayor who can deliver results for everyone across the city from the start, and I believe that’s Jason Kander,” former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes said. “As a longtime friend and colleague of Jason’s, I’m supporting him for a variety of reasons. Whether it was his military service, as a state representative or as Secretary of State, Jason has committed his life to public service. I know that if elected mayor, he will provide effective and steady leadership for our city for years to come, and I’m confident that he’s the best person to keep Kansas City moving forward.”
“I have dedicated my entire career to serving the people of Kansas City. It would be easy to put my own interests first and turn this election cycle into a long, expensive, and divisive fight, but that does not serve the best interests of the people of Kansas City. That is why I have chosen to run for re-election to the Fourth Council District and work together with Jason to build on the success we’ve enjoyed under Mayor James and tackle the challenges that still remain,” Kansas City Councilwoman Jolie Justus said. “I’ve known Jason for a long time and we share a common vision for our city. I look forward to the future we create together.”
“I’ve known Jason Kander for several years and have always been impressed. More recently, I’ve had the chance to work with him as a fellow board member at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum,” said Mamie Hughes, a former Jackson County Legislator, community volunteer and activist. “I’m convinced he will be an outstanding mayor and I’m pleased to support him.”
“Jason Kander and I share a vision of a Kansas City where no one feels they have to move across town or outside the city limits in order to enjoy basic amenities for themselves or their family. I believe as mayor he can turn his passion into progress for every Kansas Citian and I’m thrilled to stand with him in this campaign,” said Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III, Senior Pastor of St. James United Methodist Church.
“As both a legislator and Secretary of State, Jason was a great advocate for the citizen of Missouri. As mayor he will be committed to improving the lives of all Kansas Citians,” Missouri State House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty said. “He will work hard to continue to make Kansas City a world class city. I am confident that he will approach each day with the same dedication and commitment that he displayed as Secretary of State.”
“I first met Jason 17 years ago and served over five years with him in Jefferson City. Jason has always truly cared about Kansas City. It is what drove him to public service after his deployment to Afghanistan in the Army,” Kansas City Councilman Kevin McManus said. “I’m pleased he is running for mayor and am happy to support his campaign.”
“I am excited about Kansas City’s future. A lot of good people are rising to leadership, and one of our best and brightest has decided to invest his energy and ideas in our city by running for mayor. I have known Jason Kander for many years – when he represented Kansas City in Jefferson City, and then when he was elected statewide to be Missouri’s Secretary of State,” Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar said. “His service to our nation in the war on terror was brought vividly to life in a campaign commercial a few years ago as he ran for the US Senate. You know how much I love and respect our veterans! So when Jason Kander told me he was ready to bring his leadership to City Hall, I said “Let’s go!”
“Jason and I served together in the State House, so I saw first hand how hard he worked for his constituents in Kansas City. I’m supporting Jason because I know he’ll do the same as mayor,” Missouri State Senator John Rizzo said. “He’s the best person to tackle the major issues facing our city, but he also digs in on the details. Jason will be a great mayor and will make an outstanding ambassador for Kansas City. I look forward to campaigning with him.”
“I wasn’t planning on endorsing in the race for mayor, but Jason Kander is the right person for the right time for Kansas City,” former Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo said. “When I served on the city council, I worked with Jason on a wide range of issues impacting every corner of the city. He fought for Kansas City every day as a state representative. He’s going to make a great mayor and I’m proud to support him.”
“Jason Kander has the vision to lead Kansas City for the long haul. While serving our city in the legislature, he always put Kansas City first,” Missouri State Representative Jon Carpenter said. “I’m standing with Jason in his campaign because he’s going to bring out the best in our city. With Jason Kander as our mayor, Kansas City has limitless potential.”
“Jason Kander is an extraordinary leader and I’m proud to support him for mayor of Kansas City,” said CiCi Rojas, business leader and former President and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City. “Our city needs someone that will unite all of us to make Kansas City the best city it can be, and Jason is the best person to get that done. Jason has always been there for Kansas City, and I know he’ll be a wonderful mayor.”
“I’ve known Jason as a friend, neighbor and elected official serving Kansas City. I can’t think of anyone better to serve as the next mayor,” said Jim Heeter, former member of the Kansas City Council and President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “Kansas Citians can trust Jason to lead us into the next phase of our growth without leaving any part of the city behind. There’s a lot going on in Kansas City right now, and we need a mayor that is up for the challenge. Jason Kander is that person, and I’m proud to support his campaign.”
“I’m excited that Jason Kander is running for mayor of Kansas City. When he was Secretary of State, I ran his Kansas City office. I saw Jason’s work to bring innovation, effective processes and quality services to our city,” said Michele Watley, community advocate and local small business owner. “As mayor, I’m confident Jason will be committed to serving all of Kansas City and can take on the tough challenges we face so we can continue to make Kansas City even better.”
Kander lives with his wife, Diana, and four-year-old son, True, in South Kansas City.
Yesterday afternoon over 1,000 people gathered at Mill Creek Park in Kansas City for the Cosecha KC Rally to Protect Families to protest the treatment of asylum seeking immigrants and children by the Trump administration.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James spoke at the rally.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James – June 24, 2018
Mayor Sly James: [….] Good afternoon. [applause] Thank you all for being here to show the rest of the country, and everybody wants to listen and know, that this is how the American people feel . We do not support what’s going on in DC. [cheers, applause] The young lady mentioned that she had a couple of relatives in the Marine Corps. I was in the Marine Corps. None of us put on our uniform in order to see people stopped at our borders and caged and separated from their families. [cheers, applause] That wasn’t what we were ready to fight for. We were fighting for liberty, justice for all. For all. There were no limitations put on the all. It didn’t say all the people who are here. It didn’t say all the people who wanted to be here. It said all. And that has been lost in DC.
This is nothing but politics. We have to stand and fight this because if we don’t at the end of the day it’s not about them, it’s about us. We define what our country is about. [cheers, applause] We are the ones who say what’s right and wrong. We’re the ones who unite families. We’re the ones that care. We’re the ones that live here. These are our neighbors. These are our friends. This is our city. It’s not theirs.
This is not a game. These are children that are being separated from their families. It is traumatizing. It is inhuman. It is immoral. It is wrong. We must stop it. Now. [cheers, applause] [….]