KC mayoral candidates debate sharing economy at tech forum

The eight candidates in Kansas City’s 2019 mayoral race covered topics including the city’s technology talent pool, diversity and inclusion in the tech sector and adoption of the sharing economy on Monday at a forum to kick off Techweek Kansas City.

Ryan Weber, president of the KC Tech Council, organized and moderated the event. The forum featured candidates Alissia Canady, Quinton Lucas, Jermaine Reed, Scott Taylor and Scott Wagner — all sitting members of the Kansas City Council — as well as Rita Berry, Phil Glynn and Steve Miller.

The city’s relationship with the sharing economy, including platforms like Airbnb and Uber, proved a provocative topic.

“I think this city got our approach to it wrong,” said Lucas, a councilman and law professor. “We intended to compromise, but what it really was, I thought, was us placating to certain interests.”

Glynn, president of affordable housing developer Travois, said the city needs to view the arrival of such companies differently. He cited the potential of mobility startups to help provide transportation to work.

“We don’t view them as a new partner to collaborate with,” he said. “So as dock-less scooters and ride sharing companies come in to the Kansas City market, our first thought should not be, ‘How do we get these companies to follow the rules of the road?’ Our first thought should be … ‘What’s our No. 1 problem we’re trying to address with respect to helping our workers get and keep good jobs?’”

Miller, an attorney and former chair of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, echoed the idea that Kansas City must reframe the conversation around technology and better anticipate what’s on the horizon.

“I’m concerned that sometimes too often we build walls and we try to turn back technology,” Miller said. “We have to anticipate. That means being proactive, not reactionary.”

Read more: Startland News

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