Council members say goodbyes and reflect on last four years

Mayor SLy James and the outgoing city council said goodbye to the council aides and thanks them for their service.

Mayor Sly James (in the silver wig)  and the outgoing city council said goodbye to the council aides and thanks them for their service.

At the end of the last session of the outgoing city council, Mayor Sly James put on what appeared to be a white barrister wig and gave out goofy gifts like rocking chairs, cowboy hats and potato chips. The goodbye gifts went with resolutions honoring nine council members who will not return.

They are Cindy Circo, Melba Curls, Dick Davis, Ed Ford, Jim Glover, Cokethea Hill, Russ Johnson, Jan Marcason and John Sharp.

Their parting speeches offered a glimpse of the relationships between the council members and the ups and downs of their years in service. From their ceremonies, in no particular order:


Circo to Hill, who the council appointed in January to fill the remainder of Michael Brooks’ term after he resigned:

“When you first sat at this desk and interviewed, it was the homework you did that put you in that seat.”

Ford said to Hill: “When you interviewed, you knocked it out of the park.”

And then colleagues praised her for her interest and work after that.

Hill thanked them for a chance and said of her service “I walked away with a greater appreciation of the work you do every day.”

She also said she learned to have a tough skin: “I never thought people would get a kick out of just lying.”


Circo said any leadership role is tough and can be harder for women, who have to deal with things like misogynistic Internet trolls.

“It’s wrong, it’s immoral,” she said, and can take a toll on young women who enter public service.

To those women, she said: “Stand up and keep going.”


Many had words for Ford, described as quirky and known for sometimes standing alone.

Mayor Sly James, at odds with Ford sometimes over the years, said Ford took stands based on principles.

“You pretty much stick to your guns and have a moral compass,” he told him.

And James presented him with a white cowboy hat, saying that white is not always good.

Then he gave him a black cowboy hat, saying, “Here is your good cowboy hat.”

Circo praised Ford for helping build a cultural bridge linking north of the river to the rest of the city.

Ford, long-time chair of the planning and zoning committee, wore the black hat and said of his service: “This has been an honor.”


Jim Glover won praise for representing neighborhood interests.

Sharp said imitation can be the most sincere form of flattery, and he recently copied a Glover approach in giving some of a development’s tax increment financing benefits to neighborhoods.

Glover, his voice breaking at times, said, “To wear the pin and serve the people of Kansas City, I can’t think of anything better.”


Johnson drew praise for his work in bringing the streetcar to Kansas City.

Circo said he took the project on and worked it for years.

She said she learned from him: “Have a vision, know what you want … and start it.”


Sharp, public safety committee chair, got credit for many things.

Councilman Scott Taylor told him, “You stood for the little person – you did it because it was the right thing to do.”

Davis said of Sharp, “Nobody studied issues better.”

With Sharp’s constant catches of mistakes and minor problems, Ford said, he thought staff sometimes put typos in ordinances just so Sharp would catch them.

Ford also said Sharp would probably not win any congeniality award, but “not only do I respect you, for some reason I like you….”

Sharp said, “We’ve agreed to disagree without being disagreeable.”

And along the way, he said, council members worked together to make tremendous progress in public safety.


Marcason, finance committee chair, won big praise from Sharp for the nerve and sense to successfully push the gradual fix for financing the city’s pension funds.

“It’s like planting a tree when you know you won’t be around to see it grow,” Sharp said, and many cities and states have not planted that tree.


As for Curls, she literally sang her swan song: “I’ll miss you, working with the council and mayor, I’ll miss you.”

One Comment

  1. Greg Patterson says:

    I listened this afternoon to a poorly informed small businessperson malign local Kansas City Councilpersons citing corruption, marital affairs and the like. It is sad that there were some truly bad apples on past City Councils.
    It is sad too that such a legacy reflects on current City Council persons who are not cut from the same cloth.

    We all might have disagreements with these 9 people but they all are admirable public servants and deserve our thanks.

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