An Open Letter to America from Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James

Dear America,

I have been struck over the past several days at how much you have embraced Kansas City and our World Series-bound Royals.  Last week, I traveled to the White House to discuss early childhood education and everywhere I went people were telling me how the Royals are “America’s team.”  I couldn’t agree more and you will not find another Mayor in the country that is both as humbled and proud as I am.

You see, I’ve lived in Kansas City all my life. I’ve seen the good and the bad. I’ve seen times when Kansas Citians were proud of their hometown and times when they weren’t. But I have never seen anything like this.

Baseball has made us the darlings of America at this moment, but this is about more than baseball. This is about our City taking its place as a major league city in every sense of the word.

Trust me, I have plenty of statistics about how great our economy is, how lovely our parks are, how efficient our government is, how much safer our neighborhoods are, how cheap our cost of living is. Those statistics would leave half of you rolling your eyes and the other half asleep. So, why bother?

I am all about data-driven strategies and results. But sometimes the most important components of a community’s confidence are things that aren’t easily quantified – like charm.

I have to believe one reason the Kansas City Royals are so popular is because of their charm. Those guys are hardworking, friendly, classy, edgy, and fun. How could all of that rolled up in a single package not be charming?

The same can be said about our City. I love being the Mayor of Kansas City because we don’t pretend to be something we are not. We are hardworking – not needy. We are friendly – not cold (although our winters would suggest otherwise). We are classy – not pompous. We are edgy – certainly not boring. And we are fun – as evidenced by our propensity to combine good music and good barbeque whenever possible (and people flocked here during prohibition, so what does that tell you?).

Our charm isn’t limited to adjectives alone. There are few metropolitan areas in the nation where you can choose to live in a downtown loft or a sprawling farm and still not leave the city limits.  You can do that here. Plus, our vibrant neighborhoods make residents and visitors alike feel as if they live in a small town, although our population is over 450,000.

Above all, we are real. We know our strengths (entrepreneurship, arts and culture, medical research, food, music, sports, to name a few) and we know where we can improve (We must lower our crime rate and we must ensure every child has access to a world-class education – and as long as I have any say at all, we will.)

Being real resonates. It’s charming. And it’s Kansas City.

That sound you hear is Kansas City pulling up its chair to the table of great cities. We worked hard to get here. We’re going to continue working hard to stay here. And we’re going to win some games along the way.

I hope you’ll come visit us and I promise your time won’t be wasted. Hit me up on Twitter (@MayorSlyJames) or follow me on Facebook ( and let me know your favorite thing about Kansas City and the Royals. And I’ll give you some tips on what to do and see while you’re here – but I won’t tell what my favorite barbeque joint is. That’s like disclosing your favorite child.

Being Mayor means I’m Kansas City’s head cheerleader and that’s my favorite part of the gig. Our boys in blue are giving us a huge stage on which to show people why we deserve to be “America’s City.” Here are some pretty convincing reasons:

Be royal and stay frosty.


91 thoughts on “An Open Letter to America from Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James

  1. Mr. James,

    Your letter is amazing. I live north of the air port and visit my daughter often who lives in a loft apartment in downtown KC. As a product of Saint Louis some years ago 🙂 i can tell you I was a bit nervous with her choice in locations. After the first visit and a walk to the city market and Power and Light, all concerns were gone. I can not brag enough on our great city. The blue fountains right now just add to the beauty. Also, I would like to add to the statement of the class of the boys in blue. I work at a high school north of KC. I want to thank the entire Royals program for their class and grace on and off the field. Finally, a group of athletes that my 1600 plus kids can and want to look up too.
    Please express my gratitude to the boys in blue for ALL that they do. And thank you for all you have done for our beautiful and gracious city.

  2. Sly,
    I was born in raised in KC and until 2012 when I turned 50, and moved to Juneau Alaska, Kansas City was always my home. I have to say Sly, oops, Mr Mayor, this letter is the best representation of KC I have seen. It makes me proud that I knew you when you were “just an attorney” and more proud that you are my hometowns mayor.

    Stay frosty and our veins in Alaska are running Royal blue right now. Game 1 first pitch is at 4:07 Alaska time, taking a 4pm lunch to go home and watch it.


  3. The Royals, in their postseason drive, have provided my students with a great example of the grit and determination needed to achieve one’s goal. Manager Ted Yost, in a recent interview, alluded to the growth mindset he and his players adhere to when coming to the ballpark for practice and to their games, in order to reach their potential.

  4. To bad light rail and our airport did not make the video but can understand why. Great job and keep working hard and look forward to the next video promoting more future accomplishments. I like how you make the entire metro area feel like we are all working together. Your friends to north in St Joseph.


    I sure do wish I could have come home for the World Series! I am not at all surprised that The KC Royals are being called America’s Team!

  6. Sly
    You’re the best KC mayor ever. You build trust and a can do attitude. It is clear you care about all Kansas City ans. I love your positive energy.

  7. Dear Mayor James:
    Wonderful note, Mr. Mayor. Although I’ve been out-state for 35 years, I’m still “from Kansas City,” when asked. Thanks for your wonderfully warm and personable message.

    Looking to see more great things from you and My Home Town.

    Drew Ashley
    Kansas City Women’s Chorus
    Center High School Class of ’72

  8. I had to leave KC for work about 10 years ago. Travel back every few months to see my family but also because KC quickly became my hometown when we moved there in 1987! Cannot wait to retire and return to the city I love and call my home.

  9. I do follow you on FACEBOOK, Mayor Sly. As a former member of the KCPD, I worked for numerous mayors over those years, and I must say none have had quite the charisma that you do. Charlie Wheeler is the father of deceased high school classmate of mine, so our relationship had its beginnings long before the good doctor occupied your current chair. Be that as it may, I must say I am quite impressed with your leadership style. It’s no wonder why you have been, are now, and will probably be the mayor for as long as you want the job! Kansas City is a great town for all the reasons you mentioned. Keep up the good work you are doing for one of the Midwest’s shining gems!

  10. What a refreshing letter from a politician. I agree with the mayor on all comments. Where I live (Southern California) is very beautiful but the opinion of our local government is it is Provencal – always doing embarrassing things; getting caught doing illegal things. So, you can see where I would be very impressed by what this mayor had to say..

  11. I was out of town working as a traveling nurse when you became Mayor. But now I’m home and so proud to be here! Hard work and respect for others is what this community is made of. Royals have renewed my love for baseball and very. Proud! I have teaching degree besides nursing. If there is any help I can give in the education department. Please let me know. Kyla

  12. Mr. Mayor,

    You spelled “chose” when you meant “choose”:

    “. . . where you can chose to live in a downtown loft . . .”

  13. I love the letter and the video. I hate to be “that guy,” but please correct “chose” to “choose” in the 8th paragraph.

  14. Thank you, Mayor Sly James, for representing our city so beautifully. I think you are the classiest, most inclusive, gracious, considerate and even-keeled mayor ever of KC. As a transplanted Californian, I am happy to claim Kansas City as my home since 1986. I was so impressed and appreciative when, as someone giving directions to a venue last year, you, among a number of people with you, were the only one to say “thank you.” Really glad I voted for you!

  15. Thank you, Mayor James. Like so many things you have done as our mayor, your letter is classy, honest and real. Kansas City is fortunate to be represented on the professional sports stage by the Royals, but your humble, honest, grounded approach to leading our community is an even greater fortune for not just Kansas City, MO, but the entire metro area. Thank you for all you do.

    Clair Keizer
    Kansas City, MO

  16. What a great time to be a Kansas City resident. Thank you Mayor Sly for making it real and doing the “good work” that makes living here so incredibly easy. The Royals have made us realize how good we have it.

  17. I have had the pleasure of living in this beautiful lush green manicured city, my only concern is it’s school system which has been in disarray since I was a child in the 70’s. My dream for KC has always been that these athletes both from the Royals and Chiefs and the Commissions of these two teams would contribute to the children of Kansas City by making sure the schools are taken to a level that we as mid-westerners and friendly loving family people are proud of. If that could happen we could all be assured that KC would be the city that Sly loves and believes in, a city that has style, class, innovation and fun along with children walking out of high school with a chance in life and a curriculum that has given these kids the edge that Sly so eloquently speaks about.

  18. That was awesome! I’m really proud to have lived my whole life in Kansas City too. The video reminded me of so many of the things there are to do here that make it such a great place to live!

  19. Dear Mayor, Such a lovely invitation and admirable pride for your home and it’s people. I’m intrigued and will be rooting Royals throughout The Series! Best, Robert Donohue

  20. You just Confirmed what all us Mid-West Born folks have known for years ! I live in North Central Kansas , 200 miles from KC , Have many Friends living there and Always Enjoy going to the “City” as we refer to it out here in rural America. Go Royals & Go Chiefs , Proud Fan from Kansas !

  21. Mr Sly
    I met you one night and you showed how humble of a guy you really are. I have lived in the royal K.C. for about 4 years now , born and raised in the show-me state. It’s a great feeling to be a part of the world series.Its the best feeling in the world to live in a city that takes great pride in being a kind area . I’m proud to know some friends that took it upon themselves to go out and painted the I 70 Royals sign. Those people represent whats so great about our town and how we all support our teams. You Mr. Sly help in representing us as a whole.Thank you for writing to us and acknowledging what we already knew. Its just great hearing that and reading that from you.
    God Bless You And God Bless Our ROYALS


  22. Dear Mr Mayor.
    This letter says it all. It embraces the reason I stay in Kansas City. I am not from here, and I definitely took the “long road” to get here, but now that I am here I plan to stay for life. For the reasons you listed, and more.
    In conclusion, I would also like to applaud your administration. I have been in KC for going on two decades, and am glad we finally have a mayor worthy of our fine city.
    Thank you, Semper Fi, and God Bless.

  23. Wow, Mayor, you couldn’t have said it better. Kansas City is the warm place in my heart, the happy memories of playing in the parks, gazing at the beautiful fountains and shopping on the plaza, meeting my grandfather when he rolled into Union Station. It was living in the soft, safe burbs while being close to the culture (Nelson Art Gallery, Starlight Theatre), and being close enough to the country to own a horse. It was playing cowboys and indians on a land that was authentic, and when the nearest pond froze-over, racing home to grab my ice skates and go skating on the pond just a stone’s throw from my house. Kansas City is the best steak in the nation and some of the best restaurants. And people who’ve never visited Kansas City have no idea about the cosmopolitan nature of the area’s restaurants. My niece and her husband own Aixois in Brentwood and downtown. I dare anyone to spend an evening there and not be impressed with what Kansas City has to offer in dining. Friendly? Kansas City wrote the book on being genuinely friendly. Maybe it’s in the water. Maybe it’s in the beautiful skies, the gorgeous stores, the colorful fall leaves or that beautiful first snow that blankets the plaza, and turns the holidays into a child’s idea of a heavenly winter wonderland. I’m closing-in on 60 years, and I’ve never seen as magical place as Kansas City at Christmas time. No matter what time of year, if you open your heart to the warm, smiling faces, the genuine American Spirit of the heart basket of the USA, you’ll lose your heart forever to Kansas City.
    It’s been awhile since I had the honor of living in Kansas City, but I truly believe the years I spent there during my childhood made me who I am today. I’ve gone on to win 8 television Emmy Awards, numerous film festival awards, and accolades from my long career in television news, but, I am always, and forever will be just a Kansas Girl. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your perfectly accurate portrayal of Kansas City and it’s endearing citizens. Please don’t hesitate to give me a holler if you are ever in need of a stunning, heartfelt video on your unforgettable city! Colleen Sparks Hamilton

  24. This is a terrific shout out for this great city. I’ve lived on both sides of the state line and am proud to call this city my home. Thank you Mr. Mayor, for the letter and the wonderful video.

  25. very well stated mayor! Please consider mentioning the many suburbs, equally as wonderful as Kansas City proper.Without them, Kansas City would not be a shining star.

  26. What a great video to accompany a wonderful letter from the Mayor. If this doesn’t make you proud to be from KC, you probably don’t belong here. Go Royals!!!!

  27. So very proud… What a wonderful video. Brought tears to my eyes because it is a wonderful city and sometimes I whine about wanting to live closer to the ocean, but I don’t! Just want to visit because this is home and always will be!
    Thank you!

  28. Mayor James,

    I once met you briefly before a performance of “Dracula” by the Kansas City Ballet…and complimented you on your red socks! I told you then what I’ll reiterate now: YOU are one of my favorite people in Kansas City and not because of any political reasons.

    Your vibrant personality, intelligence, honesty, sense of humor, and “way with words”–as clearly evidenced once again in your letter–make me so proud of yet one more aspect of Kansas City: our very own Prince Charming–and that would be YOU!

    With respect and admiration,
    Terry Becker

  29. Way to go Sly! Well said. As someone who has personally known you for 20 years, I am glad to see you taking the charge on behalf of KC. We need our whole city to benefit from the education we get here, not just those privileged few who attend private schools or some of the wealthier suburban locations! A buddy of mine has a kid in NYC who goes to Bronx Science and it is all public funding that gives talented young minds a chance to make it!

  30. Having you as mayor has been a Godsend! The absence of the clamor with a previous mayor or two is appreciated.
    My biggest concern has been the quality of education and the responsible leadership in Kansas City, MO. But here again, much of the noise in the media that we have had in the past is noticeable because “It isn’t there,” and it hasn’t been missed! Here is hoping that you will be able to make and activate plans to make Kansas City a choice center of better education in the country/world. Kansas City has the resources to do much better.
    Keep up the great work Mayor!

  31. Dear Mr. Mayor,

    I lived in Overland Park for 6 years (2002-2008). I had a horrific accident during that period and what got me through were the friends I made. They all took turns caring for me as my family lived in New Jersey. In my 65 years I was never happier nor proud to be part of the community. Since my family asked me to “come home” due to my disabilities I have yearned for my friends and all the familiar places that made my time there so joyous. I retire next year and will be returning, cold winters and all. I love KC!

    Lastly, here in NJ, folks are usually Yankee, Mets or Philly fans but at this moment they are Crown Royal fans. it is quite amazing how much love and respect they have for your team. We are huge sports fans and know class, grit and talent and are cheering for your guys. God bless KC Royals and all of the remarkable people that are my friends for life. Go Blue!!!!!

  32. Video made my eyes tear up….it was sooooo beautiful …..KC has so many things to be proud of….our people…our culture…our friendliness….too many things to count…thank you Mayor Sly for the wonderful letter and also for the outstanding video!I hope alot of people come and visit this AWESOME city and experience our charm and hospitality first hand…..having been born and hred here, I couldn’t be more proud to have experienced.what this great city has become!

  33. Mayor James, I would like to commend you on your thoughtful and well written letter to America. What a great tribute to Kansas City! I lived in KC for 48 of my almost 68 years. I drive there now as often as possible and everytime I catch sight of the skyline, it tugs at my heart. My children and grandchildren are there, my roots are there and my heart is there.

    Kansas City has a lot to be proud of. Win or lose, we’re very proud of the Royals and I am proud to call Kansas City my home town!

  34. I love your story. Yes I to have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. Went to a Catholic elementary school in which I made life long friends. Went to East High and have fond memories and yes we all would walk to and from that High School back in the day. I love what has happened in downtown K.C. I would love to see more residential rejuvenation. It would be a joy to live in a Kansas City neighborhood like the one I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. Everyone looked out for everyone and the kids could ride their bikes from the East side to the Northeast side of KC without a hitch. My brother followed the history of the city closer than I have but I love it the same. Lets work on getting the crime out and bringing back family neighborhoods like we had back in the day. Go Royals!

    P.S. Look at the affordability of the homes. Not to many places in the country can your find the quality and beauty of the new and old charming homes.

  35. Very well put Mr. Mayor. Though I live in the other K.C. I believe in your visions and congratulate you on all you have already done to bring your city into the 21st century.

  36. This is a time to be excited about Kansas City sports. The Royals are gracious winners and losers but I hope we get to see more of the “winner side.” Nice of you to post a letter about our city, Kansas City has always came through when needed.

  37. Thank you, Mayor James, for representing us! I have lived in Kansas City all of my life and you have shared a vision of our beautiful city that reflects us perfectly! I am, and always will be, a hometown, barbeque eatin’, sport supportin’, fountain lovin’, Kansas City girl!

    Have a wonderful day and thanks again,
    Tracey Slade-Grosdeck

  38. Mahalo for sharing that letter with us. As someone who had lived all over the country but has lived in Kansas City 3 separate times for a total of about 28 years, I can say that Kansas City is the best city I have ever lived in. Of course now I live on the island of Kauai, Hi and have for the past 7 1/2 years, but still stay in touch with everyone I can. I always read and watch the KC news and could not be more excited about the Royals! My wife, who was born and raised in KC, and my daughter who was born between game 5 and 6 of the 1985 World Series, and my son who was born in KC all love the city and all there is to do there. We were supposed to take our vacation there in the beginning of October but plans just did not work out. Really missing the BBQ and have to settle for my own (which everyone on Kauai seems to love!). Sure wish I could have been there to see the Royals during the post-season. Mahalo for sharing! Aloha!

  39. Thank you very much Mayor James for reminding me what a great city I live in. I appreciate your leadership and down to earth manner of dealing with issues.

  40. It’s too bad the KCMO animal shelter is in such terrible shape. With all the good things in this city, the shelter is an embarrassment.

  41. What a wonderful letter. Thank you for including the Kansas side also. We used to be second fiddle but, although small yet, are becoming mightier.

    Born a Jayhawk and lover of KC.

  42. Never have I been prouder to live in such an amazing city! And what makes it so amazing is the people. I sincerely hope the passion and pride continue on long after the World Series ends, no matter the outcome. There are so many reasons to love Kansas City, the Royals of course being just one. Best of luck tonight to those amazing boys in blue who have worked so hard to get to this night! You have made your city so very, very proud! GO ROYALS!!

  43. It is great that Mayor James paid such homage to the Royals. Let’s go one step forward and have some kind of post-season tribute to them. Parades are for winning championships, but surely the city can come up with some kind of appreciation for a great team that inspired Kansas City and much of the country during the last few weeks.

  44. Wow! Thank you for being you. Over the past year, you have proven that you are a very good person, being a very good mayor. Please keep up the good work.

  45. Wow! Over the last year you have proven that you are a very good person, and a very good mayor. Please continue to do us proud to call you Mayor Sly James.

  46. All I can say is ‘WOW’ Mr. Mayor! I’m a Cubs fan that is rooting for the Royals. I was hoping for an all midwest series, Cubs vs Royals, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I’m from central Iowa and have enjoyed my many visits to your fine city. If I could ask you one question, when are you going to give all federal, state and municipal leaders a lesson on being a true & honest leader? Go Royals!

  47. I just saw this note.

    When Mayor James came in to office, I was not sure that I supported him. He has continued to impress me with his love for community, love for the city, and true dedication. We could not have ever chosen a better Mayor.

    Mayor James has become a fantastic spokesman for the City. Thank you, very much, for proving my concerns irrelevant.

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