KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jason Kander says he's no longer running for Kansas City mayor to focus on his health.
Kander, 37, an Afghanistan war veteran and former Missouri Secretary of State, released a letter Tuesday saying that he went to the VA in Kansas City Monday and started the process to get help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"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," Kander noted in his letter. "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."
Mayor Sly James today provided the following statement in response to Jason Kander's withdrawal:
"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."
Other candidates still running for KC mayor include Alissia Canady, Quinton Lucas, Jermaine Reed, Scott Taylor, Scott Wagner, Rita Berry, Phil Glynn and Steven Miller.
Of the nine candidates, six come from the public sector. Canady, Lucas, Reed, Taylor and Wagner all currently serve on the Kansas City Council.
In his recent book “Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Everyday Courage” Kander said he mentioned he 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."
Kander said he hopes his action will help veterans and people across the country work through mental health issues.
"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."
In February 2017, Kander founded the anti-gerrymandering organization Let America Vote. Kander said for the time being, 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."
The mayor’s race is non-partisan, so candidates don’t run as Democrat or Republican. Voters will narrow down the field of candidates during the 2019 April Primary. The election will be held in June.