Three reasons the Kansas City mayor’s race lacks sizzle, so far

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We’re less than a month away from the primary election in the race to pick a new mayor in Kansas City mayor, and, to this point anyway, most would agree there isn’t a lot of buzz for this election.

Experts say it’s surprising more people aren’t thinking about the race — considering what’s at stake. FOX4’s Pat McGonigle met with some long-time political observers in the metro, and they agree that it’s a little peculiar.

While some in the city are still arguing about the presidential election in 2016, many of those same people would struggle to name three candidates running for mayor in their own city. The experts we pointed to three big reasons this race seems to be flying under the radar.

Dave Helling has seen his fair share of elections in Kansas City, but even he can`t recall one with so much at stake and so little sizzle.

Helling says for starters, the field is huge. Eleven candidates for one office is hard for even political junkies to wrap their head around.

Another factor: the mayor’s race is non-partisan, which means there aren`t the usual left vs. right political feuds

“So you don`t have the traditional Republicans and Democrats, the stakes are very high in a partisan sense,” Helling said.

Another theory behind all of those empty seats at the recent mayoral forums is that the calendar just doesn`t feel like election season

“And by the way, it`s not with any other election. It`s not on the ballot with the Senate or the presidential election. It stands alone,” Helling said.

Even so – many argue – while the mayor’s race doesn`t fire up your Facebook feed like a presidential election, the outcome has a much greater impact on the actual lives of Kansas City residents

“The president of the United States doesn`t decide about the potholes in our streets or make these local level decisions about crime and violence necessarily,” Alison Phillips said.

Phillips is urging voters to come to an upcoming mayoral forum at UMKC

“We tend to focus on the national level politics, but really the mayoral race is very important. It really matters who our next mayor is, a lot of these issues that affect our daily lives are decided that way,” she said.

Another reason, this race matters – whoever wins – could very likely be at the helm for quite some time.

“Whoever gets elected this time will almost certainly get re-elected in four years, because nobody wants to run against him or her. So the next mayor will serve in Kansas City for eight years, that`s almost a decade,” Helling said.

The primary election is April 2. Because it’s non-partisan, the top two vote getters will face off in the general election on June 18.

The ballot:

Click on the following to see sample ballots for the mayor’s race and others on April 2:

Kansas City Election Board (For Kansas City residents within Jackson County)

Platte County Election Board

Cass County Election Board

Note: Clay County doesn’t have a sample ballot posted online. 

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