Mayor James’ Statement on the Passing of Henry Bloch

Mayor James made the following statement upon learning of Henry Bloch’s passing:

Henry was a great man and a tremendous entrepreneur. He personified the term “corporate citizen” and was a tireless champion for Kansas City. Henry and Marion’s legacy and love for our city will continue to live on through their generous support for higher education at UMKC and research at St. Luke’s Hospital, and a commitment to sharing their love of art through tremendous gifts to the Nelson.

Our Children’s Future Will Always Be the Right Cause

Mayor Sly James shared the following remarks regarding the outcome of the citywide election on Tuesday, April 2:

“While we didn’t get the result we wanted from the election, I’m extremely proud of our group of stakeholders who have put in years of work trying to get this done. Our children’s future will always be the right cause.

For those feeling discouraged, you may be tempted to throw up you hands and say “Fine! Let someone else deal with it!” But I’m asking you to be better than that.

Take some time to regroup, rest, and recharge your batteries, but don’t give up. Don’t ever give up because whatever challenges we face, they are smaller than the challenges faced by a four-year-old who isn’t ready to learn. We owe it to the children in this city to keep trying.

My time in office may be drawing to a close, but I have been proud to stand with each of you on this issue. I truly hope a solution to this problem is found, because we all know the life-changing impact high-quality Pre-K has on children and families.”

Thank you for your advocacy and commitment to Kansas City. You all have truly been apostles for our children.”

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Mayor James Responds to the Shooting Outside Central Academy of Excellence

Mayor James issued the following statement in response to Tuesday night’s shooting outside Central Academy of Excellence:

Last night, our community lost another young person to gun violence, again at the hands of a young person who had no trouble acquiring a firearm. I’ve spoken with Dr. Bedell and Chief Smith, and both of them have my unequivocal support. But the reality is exactly what Dr. Bedell said today: We need help, and we cannot solve this problem alone. Until we elect leaders who have the political will to pass common sense laws that allow us to do what needs to be done to gets guns off the streets and keep them out of the hands of those who would do harm, nothing will change.

Joni Wickham Receives 2019 Governor Mel Carnahan Award for Public Service

Joni Wickham, Chief of Staff to Kansas City Mayor Sly James, has been named recipient of the 2019 Governor Mel Carnahan Award for Public Service. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions through public service, both paid and volunteer, in the government, education, nonprofit, or legal sectors.

“Joni is essential to our administration, navigating some of the city’s most complex issues – I couldn’t do what I do without her,” said Mayor Sly James. “In a time where true public service is becoming increasingly rare, Joni stands out as selfless and dedicated public servant, committed to improving the lives of those she serves and elevating the visibility of women in leadership.”

Wickham provides counsel to the Mayor on key decisions and leads a diverse and energetic staff. She has played a central role in shaping many of the Mayor’s most transformative initiatives, such as winning voter approval for the streetcar, $800 million of general obligation bonds for city infrastructure, and a new, single terminal airport.

Wickham has worked diligently to advance policies and initiatives that support women and families, and to increase the number of women in positions of leadership in both private and public sectors. She helped launch Mayor James’ Women’s Empowerment initiative, which partners with area organizations to provide women with the mentoring, training, and opportunities necessary to lead in their communities.

Before joining Mayor James’ office, Wickham served on the staff of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, advocating for working families at the Missouri Federation of Teachers, and moving the mission of the Missouri Department of Transportation forward by building effective public policy coalitions and community partnerships.

Wickham serves on the Women’s Foundation Strategic Planning Committee, the Junior League of Kansas City’s Community Advisory Board, American Public Square Board of Directors, and as a mentor for Turn the Page KC. She was selected to be a part of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Project on Municipal Innovation.

Mayor James Commends KCPS on Highest-Ever Annual Progress Report Score

Mayor Sly James issued the following statement regarding Kansas City Public Schools’ impressive results on Missouri’s Annual Progress Report:

I commend KCPS leadership, teachers and students on earning the district’s highest-ever score on the state’s Annual Progress Report. This is the result of years of hard work and planning, and KCPS deserves recognition for this impressive accomplishment. Dr. Bedell and his team are working hard to educate our children, which is the most important investment we can make in our city’s future.

Read more about KCPS’ good news here.

Mayor James to Host Series of Town Hall Meetings on Pre-K Plan

Kansas City, Missouri – Mayor Sly James will host a series of town hall meetings to talk with residents about the importance of early childhood education in Kansas City. Residents will have the opportunity to learn more about the plan to ensure every child in Kansas City has access to quality pre-k education, and to ask questions about the community-driven plan.

“Children who attend a quality pre-k program are more likely to have positive outcomes in both school and adulthood. Unfortunately, only a fraction of Kansas City’s children have access to these types of programs,” said Mayor Sly James. “Quality pre-K programs result in many benefits for our community, including lower crime rates and a larger skilled workforce. I look forward to talking with residents about how we can make sure every child in Kansas City has access to quality pre-k education that will help them get ready to succeed in school and beyond.”

Mayor James, in partnership with community, business, civic, and education leaders, has developed a plan for universal pre-K that will help to increase the number of high-quality childcare providers, while also supporting high-quality programs that already exist.

The pre-K town halls will be moderated by American Public Square founder Allan Katz (Jan. 22 and Feb. 19) and Truman Medical Center CEO/President Charlie Shields (Feb. 5). Mayor James will present the plan and take questions with the assistance of early childhood education expert Jovanna Rohs of Mid America Regional Council (MARC). MARC is a neutral party and has operated the Metropolitan Council on Early Learning for over 25 years.

There will be media availability with Mayor James immediately following the program. However, time during the town hall will be reserved for questions from residents.

SCHEDULE

Date Time Location
1/22/19 6-7 p.m. Avila University, Whitfield Ctr., 11901 Wornall Rd, KCMO 64145, MAP
2/5/19 6-7 p.m. Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Board Rm., 30 W Pershing Rd #301, KCMO 64108, MAP
2/19/19 6-7 p.m. MCC-Maple Woods, Campus Ctr. , 1299, 2601 NE Barry Rd, KCMO 64156, MAP

Registration is not required for residents to attend the event. However, seating will be limited.

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Mayor Sly James Lauds KC Chamber and Civic Council Endorsement of Pre-K Plan

Mayor Sly James issued the following statement in response to the Boards of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City endorsing the plan to ensure every 4-year-old in Kansas City has access to quality Pre-K education:

I appreciate the KC Chamber and Civic Council for standing up for all children in Kansas City with their strong support of our plan to ensure every 4-year-old has access to quality Pre-K education. Building a bigger, stronger, more skilled and adaptable workforce that will be ready for the future begins with how well we prepare our children today. Now is the time to take this important step forward and invest in our youngest Kansas Citians.

Mayor Sly James Responds to Kansas City Public Schools’ Statement on Pre-K Plan

Mayor Sly James issued the following statement in response to Kansas City Public Schools’ announcement regarding the Pre-K plan:

“I thank Dr. Bedell and his fellow superintendents for their insights throughout the process of building and refining our plan to make sure every four-year-old in Kansas City has access to quality Pre-K education. From its inception, our plan was built to serve all families in Kansas City, including the majority whose four-year-olds are not served by the public school system. I’m proud that our plan will expand access to Pre-K programs for families who work hard every day but for whom the $12,000 per year tuition is still out of reach. We began another series of more formal negotiations four months ago, and in spite of substantive compromises, KCPS has chosen not to support our final plan. While I am disappointed in their decision, I remain steadfast in my commitment to make sure every child has access to educational opportunities that will help them build successful futures for themselves, as well as Kansas City. I’m very proud of the final plan, and I look forward to sharing it with residents over the coming months.”

Mayor Sly James’ Statement in Support of Jason Kander

Mayor Sly James today provided the following statement in response to Jason Kander’s withdrawal from the Kansas City mayoral race:

“I’m proud of Jason for having the courage to share his struggle, and for doing what he needs to do to take care of his health. This could not have been an easy decision, but I know Jason is doing what is right for him and his family, and I’ve never been more proud to call him my friend and colleague. His track record of outstanding service and tireless work ethic have raised the bar for many who aspire to serve in elected office. I applaud his bravery, and will do all I can to help him through his healing process.”

Mary Jane Judy Named New President of the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners

Mayor Sly James announced today that Mary Jane Judy will be the new president of the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners. Judy has served on the Board as a commissioner since 2013 and will become the fourth female president in its 128-year history.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with a dynamic board and incredible staff during my six years as commissioner,” said Judy. “I’m honored to have been asked to serve as president, and I’m thrilled to continue working to ensure our parks, community centers and programming are accessible and enjoyable for everyone in our community.”

“Mary Jane has been essential to the successful work of our Board,” said Terry Rynard, Deputy Director of Kansas City Parks and Recreation and incoming Director beginning January 2019. “Her leadership skills, strong relationships and experience all made her a natural choice for president.”

“I’m pleased to welcome Mary Jane Judy as the new president of the Board of Kansas City Parks and Recreation Commissioners,” said Mayor Sly James. “In addition to nearly six years of service as a Board Commissioner, Mary Jane has also served as chair of the City’s Liquor Control Board of Review, and in leadership for several successful non profits including the Board of Trustees for the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Mary Jane, who is only the fourth woman to lead the Parks Board, brings a wealth of skill, experience and, most importantly, a love for Kansas City to her new role, and I look forward to her leadership for years to come.”

Judy is an accomplished shareholder with Polsinelli specializing in real estate and finance and will assume the role of president immediately. The Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners holds public meetings every other Tuesday at the Parks and Recreation Department Administration building at 4600 E. 63rd St. All meetings start at 2 p.m. and are open to the public.

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