Kansas City Mayor Sly James released the following statement addressing the city’s redistricting process:
“For the second time since Kansas City’s redistricting process began again, I feel like I need to speak directly to the tone and tenor of the discussions. I was in Boston last week and just reviewed the tape from last week’s public hearing on redistricting. What I saw and heard did not reflect well on this great city, and prior to tomorrow’s meeting, I would like to make a few things clear.
“While it has apparently become acceptable to engage in political speech that promotes division and discourages compromise, I do not believe we should model intolerant behavior in our civic dialog. Name calling, harassment, disrespect and spitefulness have no place in this or any discussion we conduct as a community. Period.
“I have intentionally stayed out of the public process for redistricting and confined my comments to the way in which the conversation has been conducted rather than the substance of the conversation. This was my attempt to respect the process and the people who devoted their time and energy to a difficult task.
“It is unfortunate the manner in which some have conducted themselves in what has otherwise been a model of civic participation and public involvement. The map that was forwarded to the City Council, by a vote of 6-1, represents a map that respects the residents of all six council districts, remains faithful to the Voting Rights Act, and allows for future growth. The citizens’ redistricting panel has done its work well and faithfully. If there are any changes to Map 1, they should be small and deliberate and not create new issues for old reasons.
“Redistricting is change. Change is often difficult to accept and in this case, the only guarantee is that some group of citizens will be upset by whatever decision is made. Just because it is difficult does not mean it needs to be ugly. We seem to allow lines, streets, rivers and all manner of divisions to get the better of us. For the better part of a half century the things that divide us have blinded us to the things that unite us. That is not who we are as a city. That is not who we want to be.
“Credible advocates for specific positions do not need to tear others down to prop themselves up. We can disagree passionately without personal attacks, political grandstanding or public disregard for one another.
“Please respect the process and one another. There are many issues we need to deal with as a city, and we are capable of great things when we stand together rather than apart.”