A Candidate Forum, Let’s talk about “Our Shared Destiny”
Kansas City, Missouri— It was a mixture of politics, religion and culture. Kansas City’s city council candidates took off their gloves and their shoes at Al-Inshirah Islamic Center and visited with community leaders and concerned citizens, demonstrating their seriousness about representing all the people of KC.
The incumbents and their challengers met on Saturday, February 12, 2011 at an intimate candidate forum for all parties concerned about the welfare of our great city. There was an early buzz that created a very relaxed, and unforced congenial atmosphere. The candidates engaged in pre-forum conversations that seemed to one observer to be “lacking in snake-oil salesmen discourse.” Then the candidates and their perspective districts were announced. At the conclusion of their introduction, each candidate was given three minutes to articulate their positions, concerns, and some brief resolutions. All did spectacular jobs with the time they were allowed, and even though there was some wrangling among a few candidates in what will prove to be some hotly contested inner city districts, the forum was an exemplary display of very refined novice and seasoned politicians.
The intention of the forum’s planners was to acquaint the public with those running for the city council seats, and to provide a venue where candidates and the community leaders they will potentially be working with could get to know more about one another through honest discourse. Forum topics included the jobs, elimination of crime, better education, economic development, hazardous waste and better delivery of basic services.
The forum was sponsored by Culturally Speaking, Success Brothers, The Coalition for Good Government and Al-Fitrah Human Development Institute. It was considered by organizers to have been a rousing success and to mark the beginning of a new era in Kansas City – one where Muslims and inner city residents join forces with other groups to improve the city. “If you open your front door and stand on your porch, and you don’t like what you see,” commented one challenger, “it’s time for a change in Kansas City.” The sponsors of the forum are trying to be that change.
This candidate event was the brain-child of the local Islamic community that aligns itself with the leadership of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, which has become very active in the political arena. It was inspiring and uplifting to see Muslims from all over the Metropolis again participating in “Our Shared Destiny.”
The sponsoring organizations have undertaken a number of endeavors to become more civic minded over the past year, a few months ago hosting congressman Emanuel Cleaver II at a similar forum. The League of Muslim Women, which is headquartered at Al-Inshirah, is also very active in local politics.