Hail Mayor Sly James – and Kansas City voters

20170403_222544-2Mayor Sly James pushed and prodded Kansas Citians to pass an $800 million bond issue on Tuesday. It required a property tax increase. And 57.1 percent of the vote to pass.

Guess what?

All three parts of the package passed, rather handily.

As a result, Kansas Citians will get better roads, bridges, sidewalks and flood control in the coming 20 years.

They also will get a new animal shelter in the next two or so years, according to the timetable from City Manager Troy Schulte.

All three issues got more than 50 percent of the vote in the Northland, while a surge of support south of the Missouri River pushed all of them past the needed 57.1 level.

Crucial side note: James was right to say about a month ago that Kansas City wasn’t waiting for Donald Trump and Washington to get their acts together.

“We’ve been waiting for federal help on infrastructure for a long time. It hasn’t shown up,” James said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “Where’s the plan when that’s going to happen? You and I both know that we can’t count on anything coming out of D.C.”

The passage of the $800 million proposal on the back of James’ (mostly) winning personality and his popularity places him among the most successful mayors in Kansas City’s history.

Kay Barnes, who served from 1999 to 2007, also had a long string of victories with bond issues (not requiring tax increases) as well as her signature achievement of the new Sprint Center.

Old timers will remember the earnings tax election championed by Ilus Davis in the early 1960s. Davis also served during a turbulent time in Kansas City.

While this is the kind of debate no one wins, remember that James has two more years in office. Next up is the excellent idea of expanding the streetcar line. James supports the goal, so expect him to be promoting it in the 11 months as the unusual election process plays out.

For now, hail Sly James for providing the kind of leadership needed to pass the much-needed $800 million package of bonds in Kansas City.