East High students host forum for nine candidates for Kansas City mayor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A group of East High students hosted a mayoral forum Wednesday night for the nine men and women running for the top spot in Kansas City politics.

The Multiculturalism and Social Justice students worked with teacher Katharine Perna to create questions for the candidates for Kansas City's next mayor.

The class collaborated all semester to come up with the topics and issues the teenagers found most important. Some of those included immigration, infrastructure and housing.

The teens were also interested in learning about how each candidate described their interest in growing East Kansas City.

“Before, there were a lot of meet-and-greets and a lot of things going on on the other side of Troost, and the kids were like, 'This is an issue!” Perna said.

The East High teacher said she was very proud of the teens and that it was “exciting to watch them take action and get involved in it on their own.”

"I feel like by us asking these questions, it represents us as a whole," senior Frida Barron said. "That is just what East High School represents. We are a very strong diverse school, and I feel like the fact that our mayoral candidates are so diverse -- it made us really want to put our hands in and see what we could find out about them."

Senior Zamirah Felton said she was most interested in infrastructure. She wanted to know what the candidates planned to do about the recent snow "and us getting school cancelled for three days" because she said it set them behind in learning.

She also said she’s one of many students who walk to school, and she’d like to see work done to sidewalks in their area because, in some parts, their commutes are dangerous.

Junior Benoit Bilombele said his favorite part about Kansas City is how many different cultures are represented.

"You don’t just see one culture," he said. "People are all from different countries, different races.”

He also said that topic, along with violence and bringing down the crime rate are things they’ve discussed as a whole in the Multicultural and Social Justice class.

Mayor Sly James will step down next year, as he’s reached his term limit. The primary for Kansas City's mayoral race is in April followed by the general election in June.