Jason Kander joins crowded KC mayoral race; Jolie Justus withdraws

After spending the better part of two years enhancing his national political profile, Jason Kander is pivoting his focus back to his hometown.

Kander confirmed Monday that he will join the crowded race for Kansas City mayor.

Kander, a Democrat, spent two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives before being elected Missouri’s secretary of state in 2012.

In 2016, Kander ran for U.S. Senate against Sen. Roy Blunt, losing to the Republican incumbent by a margin of 49.2 percent to 46.4 percent.

Kander is president of Let America Vote, a political organization against voter suppression. He also hosts a podcast called Majority 54, which is described on its website as helping “the 54% of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump talk to those of us who did about the most divisive issues in our country.”

He told reporters in April that he was considering running for president in 2020. He said he would decide following the midterm elections, the Washington Post reports.

After Kander’s announcement Monday, Jolie Justus, a Kansas City councilwoman who was also running for mayor, announced that she will withdraw from the race and instead seek re-election to her current position.

“It would be easy to put my own interests first and turn this election cycle into a long, expensive, and divisive fight,” Justus said in a Facebook post. “In my view that doesn’t serve the best interests of the people of Kansas City.”

Justus also said in the post she has “known Jason for a long time” and they “share a common vision for the future of our city.”

Council members Quinton Lucas, Jermaine Reed, Scott Taylor, Alissia Canady, attorney Stephen Miller, businessman Phil Glynn, Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner, and businesswoman Rita Berry are other candidates in the race, the Kansas City Star reports.

In a release, Kander broadly cited issues that he wants to address, including economic inequality, inclusive housing and economic development, crime, infrastructure and access to education. He also said that he wants to confront problems “that aren’t talked about enough,” such as access to basic services, racial and gender equity in city contracts and programs, and efficiency in city services.

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