The two men vying to take over Quinton Lucas’ Kansas City Council seat agree there are challenges when it comes to tackling the 3rd District’s issues such as crime, affordable housing and access to jobs. Where they diverge is their career experiences.
“When you look at the east side, you see high crime and there’s little to no economic density and a housing stock that has not been invested in,” he said.
There is precedent for Ellington’s decision to run for city office. Kevin McManus resigned from his House seat in 2015 after being elected to the council’s 6th District seat. Melba Curls was elected to the 3rd District at-large seat in 2007 after serving eight years in the Missouri House. And current 4th District Councilwoman Jolie Justus (like Lucas, a mayoral candidate) served in the state Senate before running for council in 2015.
Hartsfield, on the other hand, doesn’t have experience in public office. He’s the pastor of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church on Linwood Boulevard.
But, he said, he’s done a lot for the city when it comes to fighting against food deserts and predatory lending.
“I'm a local pastor. I'm a local professor, I'm a local community activist,” Hartsfield said. “My entire professional career has been around improving the wellbeing of people.”
Hartsfield took over the church from his father, a longtime civil rights activist.
“I appreciate being able to share that name because my father has been, in my opinion, a great man in my eyes and continues to be,” Hartsfield said. “While at the same time I recognize that I can't just live off what my father has done. I will have to prove myself as well.”
If Ellington wins, he would have to leave his seat in Jefferson City, forcing a special election. There are currently two vacancies in the Missouri House.
Samuel King is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter: @SamuelKingNews