KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With less than two weeks left on the job, Kansas City mayor Sly James is reflecting on his eight years in office.
James hosted his final community event, a cookout, at the Urban Youth Academy on Sunday. Hundreds of people attended to thank James and wish him well.
“It’s been a remarkable time of collaboration and building, not just physical structures but interpersonal relationships,” James said.
James said the last eight years have gone by fast but that it’s be an honor to serve Kansas City.
“Very few people get this honor and when you have it, you owe an obligation to the people to do everything you can to make it better. I think we did that,” he said.
He said he’s proud of what he was able to get done while in office including launching the streetcar, pushing for the new single terminal at KCI, and securing the downtown convention center hotel, which is currently under construction.
His said his biggest success was creating the non-profit “Turn the Page KC,” an initiative aimed at raising the reading proficiency of third graders.
“We have been able to get the average reading across the city from 38% up to 55%. That means there are a lot more kids that are going to have a shot,” James said.
One of his frustrations involves the violence in Kansas City, an issue he said will continue to be a problem if nothing is done at the state level.
“We are preempted to touch anything about guns,” he said. “In fact, the law says that the only thing we can do is to say exactly what they say on the state level.”
Many of the people who attend the cookout approved of the mayor’s time in office.
“I’ve been here a long time and have dealt with a lot of mayors, city council people. He did pretty good, I think,” said Mark Porter.
“All of the work he’s done for Kansas City has been phenomenal, just a great guy,” added Marissa Iden.
James believes the state of the city is “solid” and said it’s only up from here for the City of Fountains.
“There’s a great foundation that can be built on,” he said. “There’s great momentum. We just need to keep it moving.”
James added that his biggest regrets was not getting his pre-K plan passed and the expansion of the streetcar to service neighborhoods east to west of downtown.
He said he plans to do some consulting work when he leaves office. His last day is July 31.