While the size of the seemingly sparse crowd at the Kansas City Sprint Center is still disputed, one thing became clear: the mayor faces an uphill battle for his Schools First campaign and his coming re-election.
The incumbent KC Missouri mayor reportedly has under $13,000 in his campaign war chest while his growing list of opponents are said to have over $370,000.
While denying that the 90-minute meeting was in effect an election rally with free media exposure, Funkhouser said, “The best way for me to campaign is to be an effective mayor.”
Although the town meeting was billed as a promotion for Schools First, a bond measure not yet on the ballot, the mayor’s opponents were quick to voice their concern over his use of public funds.
Mike Burke, one of Funkhouser’s five opponents and one-time councilman said “There’s a line. When it crosses the line is using public funds for campaigning, and I think the mayor is close to that line.”
Other mayoral candidates expressed concerns. They include Deb Herman, a two-term City Council member and chairwoman of the Finance and Audit Committee; Sly James, attorney and former Marine; Leonard Jonas Hughes, state representative for three terms; and Jim Rowland, Jackson County Sports Complex Authority executive director and former councilman.
Certainly, the beleaguered Funkhouser has many challenges and critics. What has been remarkable is the animosity of his own party to his reign as mayor. His tendency to be his own man and go his own way has driven most of his liberal Democrat friends away. Past personal problems and policies have also been a major distraction.
As perhaps more opponents line up to take their shot at the job, the mayor seems unconcerned. While he pushes Schools First, perhaps his next endeavor should be Funk First.