Fresh off her second-place showing in the April 4 Kansas City Council primary, Ronda Smith is set to take on 1st District At-Large incumbent Kevin O’Neill in the June 20 general election.
A first-time candidate, Smith bested third-place finisher Pam Mason, 8,591-6,383, despite Mason’s being a former presiding commissioner and clerk of Clay County.
As reported by The Heartlander, Smith is a grandmother and real estate and insurance agent who raised her children in Kansas City with her husband, a retired KCMO police officer of 26 years. She says she decided to run for city council to ensure her grandchildren, and all KC residents, have a future as bright as the one she’s always envisioned for her own family.
Smith says she’s received overwhelming support from all sides, including several prominent Kansas Citians who are publicly endorsing her candidacy.
“Since our great primary success, the campaign has been buoyed by new supporters from all sides,” she told The Heartlander. “I have been very grateful to receive the endorsements of Theresa Cass Galvin, former Jackson County legislator and candidate for Kansas City’s 5th District-At-Large seat; former 4th District At-Large candidate Grace Cabrera; KC Citizens For Public Safety PAC; and former KC Police Chief Larry Joiner.”
While she’s grateful for the support, Smith knows the election won’t be won simply by gaining the most high-profile endorsements. Instead, she’s committed her campaign to being the voice of the people of Kansas City as she takes her message to the streets.
“Our campaign has made it a huge priority to get out and talk directly to voters of all stripes. Since the race for 1st District-At-Large is citywide, I’ve been working hard to get all around the city and speak to leaders and community members in every neighborhood.”
In doing so, Smith has found the people of Kansas City are more alike than different, regardless of the current divisive political environment.
“It turns out that all across the city, our problems are the same: violent crime, infrastructure and transparency.”
Since entering the race in January, Smith says she’s learned a lot about how politics work in Kansas City. Seeing the “corruption” up close and personal, she says, has only strengthened her resolve to be a councilwoman of the people and for the people.
“I have seen firsthand how corrupt the political machine of Kansas City really is. When I first got into the race, I knew I wasn’t ever going to be a career politician, but I didn’t know just how far career politicians will go to try and cook the books. I’ve seen public forums and candidate events be manipulated, changed or altered to suit some interests over others.”
The alleged corruption is so rampant that Smith says she’s had several supporters tell her they’ve “felt threatened” for having the audacity to support her campaign to end ‘politics as usual’ in Kansas City.
“Many developers and local businesses told me that they’ve felt threatened by the powers that be for publicly supporting my campaign.”
Having experienced similar intimidation tactics herself, she vows not to be deterred from the fight.
“I’ve even had my campaign signs torn down, ripped up, and tossed into the street. That shows you how far the establishment will go to keep our message contained,” she said. “But I won’t let the threats and intimidation stop this campaign. I now believe it is more important than ever to say ‘No!’ to business as usual.”
With violent crime rates skyrocketing in Kansas City, Smith says public safety is her number one priority. If elected, she vows to fully fund and support the local police department while seeking common-sense reforms to reverse the alarming trends in crime.
“Public safety has to be issue No. 1 for local leaders. Kansas City’s violent crime rates are through the roof, and it’s deeply impacting the livability of our city. Too many mothers have lost their sons and too many families have been torn apart.
“We need more robust public safety and police initiatives, but [when] leaders on the city council are attacking police funding instead of attacking the problem of crime, it makes it hard for anyone except criminals to feel safe or secure, when our police department is under attack.”
Smith’s other priorities are transparency and accountability – bringing council processes into the light of day.
“Transparency and accountability are also incredibly important because without oversight and dialogue it’s impossible to know if our city leaders are really following through on the promises they’ve made. We can’t let our city council govern from the shadows. Additionally, we need to ensure that our city’s infrastructure budget is being properly allocated and maintained.”
In contrast to her opponent, Smith stresses she is no career politician and will seek to put the needs of her constituents first, no matter the “personal or political cost” – something she says the incumbent hasn’t done.
“I believe that our leaders on the council need to act selflessly, placing the interests of the whole community first. That’s why I solemnly vow to always put the interests of KC residents first, no matter the personal or political cost to myself.
“My opponent, ‘Do-Nothing O’Neill,’ hasn’t done anything for the residents of this city. He’s only helped out his donors and his pals. I don’t believe in pay-to-play political schemes, and I think they have no place in Kansas City. That distinction is exactly why I’m running against Do-Nothing O’Neill, because it’s time someone started working for the 1st District-At-Large again.”
Smith says if voters are truly tired of the status quo, they need to get out and vote in the June 20 election.
“Everyone has a voice in this election. The powers that be are not too big to lose, and if we all make our voices heard we can seriously change the way Kansas City does business. If you’re tired of the same old politics as usual at city hall, then make sure to get out and vote.”
Smith encourages anyone who’d like to get involved and support her campaign to go to her website and sign up to volunteer or make a grassroots donation. You can also follow her campaign on Facebook and Twitter.