Winners and losers in Kansas City, Missouri, City Council committee assignments

Kansas City, Missouri, mayors often complain that the city charter doesn’t vest enough power in that office, that the mayor is merely one vote among 13 on the council and only has the advantage of the bully pulpit.

Mayors who actually believe that haven’t studied charters in other cities in the Kansas City metro. The Kansas City, Missouri, mayor has more power, arguably, than most other cities, with the exception of the mayor/CEO of Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas.

One of the ways KCMO mayors flex their power is with City Council committee assignments. Some committees have more clout and importance than others. Putting council members in plum committee seats can ensure a certain measure of loyalty to the mayor’s agenda in return for their higher political profile. Political adversaries, meanwhile, get boring committee assignments where they have considerably less influence on meaningful legislation than their peers.

Mayor Sly James, who inherits a new City Council as he begins his second term on Saturday, announced his assignments late on Thursday.

The clear winner among the 12 council members is second-term Northland councilman Scott Wagner, who was chosen for mayor pro tem (basically vice mayor) and chairmanship of the Finance & Governance Committee.

Scott Taylor, a south Kansas City councilman who won a second term without opposition, received the lofty chairmanship of the Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee, easily the most influential council committee in Kansas City government. Taylor’s new position allows him to set and influence the agenda on development projects, an important role in city government.

Jermaine Reed, an East Side councilman starting his second term, will lead the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which is the second-highest profile committee.

Returning council members typically get the nod to lead committees, which make Taylor’s, Wagner’s and Reed’s assignments not entirely surprising.

But James gave considerable clout to newcomer Jolie Justus, a former Missouri senator who takes a 4th District (Briarcliff, downtown, midtown and parts of Brookside) seat this weekend. Justus is an accomplished and experienced politician who will lead the newly formed Airport Committee, which will usher in discussion of  Kansas City International Airport’s future. Justus will also co-chair the Legislative Committee, along with soon-to-be-retired Missouri Rep. Kevin McManus. Justus is also vice-chair of the Finance & Governance Committee.

Another newly elected council member getting a leg up from the mayor’s office is Quinton Lucas. He was made chairman of the Housing Committee and was named to several other lucrative positions, including the transportation and economic development committees.

Heather Hall and Katheryn Shields didn’t get many favors from James’ office. Hall has one leadership position: vice-chair of the Small Business, Entrepreneurship & Jobs Committee. Shields was named vice-chair of the Neighborhoods & Public Safety Committee and the Youth Development Committee.

Here are all of the committee assignments, per the mayor’s office.

Mayor Pro Tem

First District (At-Large) Councilman Scott Wagner

Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee

Chair: Fifth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Alissia Canady
Vice Chair: Fourth District (At-Large) Councilwoman-Elect Katheryn Shields
Members: Third District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Quinton Lucas
First District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Heather Hall

Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee

Chair: Sixth District (At-Large) Councilman Scott Taylor
Vice Chair: Fifth District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Lee Barnes
Members: First District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Heather Hall
Third District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Quinton Lucas

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Chair: Third District (In-District) Councilman Jermaine Reed
Vice Chair: Sixth District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Kevin McManus
Members: Third District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Quinton Lucas
Fourth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Jolie Justus
Second District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Dan Fowler

Finance and Governance Committee

Chair: Mayor Pro Tem and First District (At-Large) Councilman Scott Wagner
Vice Chair: Fourth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Jolie Justus
Members: Fifth District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Lee Barnes
Sixth District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Kevin McManus

Ethics and Legal Review Committee

Chair: Second District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Dan Fowler
Vice Chair: Chair: Fifth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Alissia Canady
Members: Sixth District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Kevin McManus
Mayor Sly James

Legislative Committee

Co-Chair: Fourth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Jolie Justus
Co-Chair: Sixth District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Kevin McManus
Members: Fourth District (At-Large) Councilwoman-Elect Katheryn Shields
Mayor Sly James
Second District (At-Large) Councilwoman-Elect Teresa Loar

Housing Committee

Chair: Third District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Quinton Lucas
Vice Chair: Second District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Dan Fowler
Members: Mayor Pro Tem and First District ((At-Large) Councilman Scott Wagner
Chair: Fifth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Alissia Canady
Second District (At-Large) Councilwoman-Elect Teresa Loar

Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Jobs Committee

Chair: Second District (At-Large) Councilwoman-Elect Teresa Loar
Vice Chair: First District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Heather Hall
Fifth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Alissia Canady
Sixth District (At-Large) Councilman Scott Taylor
Third District (In-District) Councilman Jermaine Reed

Airport Committee

Chair: Fourth District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Jolie Justus
Vice Chair: Second District (In-District) Councilman-Elect Dan Fowler
Members: Second District (At-Large) Councilwoman-Elect Teresa Loar
Third District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Quinton Lucas

Youth Development Committee

Chair: Mayor Sly James
Vice Chair: Fourth District (At-Large) Councilwoman-Elect Katheryn Shields
Members: First District (In-District) Councilwoman-Elect Heather Hall
Fifth District (At-Large) Councilman-Elect Lee Barnes

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