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Mayor Lucas formally recommends Brian Platt as Kansas City manager

  

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas today provided his formal recommendation to the City Council regarding Kansas City’s sixteenth city manager, following a 13-month long competitive nationwide search and recruitment process.

Brian PlattFollowing this extensive process—as described in Mayor Lucas’s letter to Council—the mayor met with each councilmember separately to discuss their preference for city manager and saw that a supermajority of councilmembers named Brian Platt as either their clear first choice, or tied for first, for city manager. The next highest vote-getter had three votes from councilmembers as either their clear first choice or tied for first choice.

“I am inclined to agree with a supermajority of the Council—not only because of the agreement among this supermajority of the Council—but because of this individual’s strong record on budget management, incentives, and affordable housing,” Mayor Lucas wrote in a letter to the City Council. “Based upon sterling recommendations provided by his own colleagues and citizens, the review of our colleagues and community interview viewers and participants, and his strong work on budget challenges over recent years and reorganization of Jersey City departments, I will recommend, based upon my authority under Section 218(b) of the Kansas City Charter, Brian Platt to serve as Kansas City’s sixteenth permanent city manager.

“Mr. Platt has great experience leading one of America’s most diverse cities,” continued Mayor Lucas. “As city manager of Jersey City, New Jersey, Mr. Platt has built a more fiscally prudent and stable government operation. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Mr. Platt this year led Jersey City in reducing its City budget mid-year by $70 million, making creative, targeted reductions without imposing mass furloughs, layoffs, or disrupting the delivery of vital City services.”

Mr. Platt holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and has extensive management experience. He and his wife, Margo, have a two-year-old daughter and have significant family ties to Kansas City. Brian’s father-in-law, Marty Aaron, is a graduate of Center High School. Mr. Aaron’s mother is a graduate of Paseo High School. Several members of his family remain in Kansas City and have served our community as public school teachers and local business owners for decades.

The City Council tomorrow will vote on a Mayor Lucas ordinance to codify this recommendation. If approved, Platt would tentatively begin his role of city manager on January 4, 2021.

Full letter is below and attached:

Dear Colleagues:

For the last thirteen months, the Mayor and Council have gone through an extensive process to find the next permanent city manager, while also confronting the many external challenges present in 2020.

Starting last fall, Council and Mayor worked collaboratively to build our city manager selection process. Working together, we approved legislation that crafted an unprecedented role in the search firm selection process for our community and councilmembers. Based on Council direction, the City’s Procurement Office accepted bids from numerous search firms and recommended a national search firm, Baker Tilly, to assist us in this process. Baker Tilly put out a call for applications and sought talented government leaders from across the country. Kansas City received more than 70 initial applications that met initial criteria. Each of those names was provided to all councilmembers for their review.

Based on further Council direction on our review process, in a meeting with all Council members present we worked to narrow down the list of 70 candidates to 19 candidates for our semi-finalist list. Baker Tilly then conducted more thorough screenings of these semi-finalist candidates. After the firm’s screenings, the full Council again joined in several more meetings to identify our finalists. To ensure that the pool of applicants was adequate, each councilmember was allotted additional time to supplement the list of candidates. After several weeks of deliberation and meetings with councilmembers, we again came together to affirm our final four candidates, with each councilmember and the mayor having equal votes. Those finalists were Milton Dohoney, Jr., Janice Allen Jackson, Kevin Jackson, and Brian Platt.

Those four finalists were then invited to Kansas City for several hours of meetings with Council members, community organizations, and the public. Each finalist began with an at least 90-minute long public meeting with the full City Council. Each then participated in an hour-long lunch meeting gaining feedback from stakeholder organizations throughout the community, of which several dozen organizations were represented, and dozens more were invited. Finally, finalists participated in a public townhall, during which any member of our community was invited to ask direct questions of each finalist.

Even amid a global pandemic, I and we have kept it a priority to make this city manager selection process as open and as transparent as possible.

Each of our meetings was live-streamed on City Government Channel 2, YouTube, and my office’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Moderators took questions live from an online audience during the public townhall meetings. Following these twelve meetings over a two-week period, the City solicited feedback from the community and received hundreds of responses from Kansas Citians. The responses we received from the community are reflective of the recommendation I will make today.

Following our earlier extensive process, I then met with each councilmember separately to discuss their preference for city manager and saw that a supermajority of councilmembers named the same individual as their clear first choice, or tied for first, for city manager. The next highest vote-getter had three votes from councilmembers as their clear first choice or tied for first.

I am inclined to agree with a supermajority of the Council—not only because of the agreement among this supermajority of the Council—but because of this individual’s strong record on budget management, incentive reform, and affordable housing.

Based upon sterling recommendations provided by his own colleagues and citizens, the review of our colleagues and community interview viewers and participants, and his strong work on budget challenges over recent years and reorganization of Jersey City departments, I will recommend, based upon my authority under Section 218(b) of the Kansas City Charter, Brian Platt to serve as Kansas City’s sixteenth permanent city manager.

Mr. Platt has great experience leading one of America’s most diverse cities. As city manager of Jersey City, New Jersey, Mr. Platt has built a more fiscally prudent and stable government operation. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Mr. Platt this year led Jersey City in reducing its City budget mid-year by $70 million, making creative, targeted reductions without imposing mass furloughs, layoffs, or disrupting the delivery of vital City services.

My office and I have spoken to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who noted: “All a person has to do to validate this decision is look at Brian’s track record here in Jersey City, helping us lead one of the best city renaissance stories in the country.”

City Council President and Jersey City pastor Joyce Watterman added: “Brian has made a tremendous impact on Jersey City. He’s been an extraordinary partner with the City Council as we have worked together and oversaw a myriad of efforts and initiatives come to fruition over the past several years.”

I thank Acting City Manager Earnest Rouse for his dedicated service to Kansas City—particularly through this unprecedented time: he has been a steady hand as the city has navigated a global pandemic, an unexpected and steep budget hole, and difficult but necessary discussions on policing in America.

Still, after a thorough thirteen-month nationwide search and recruitment process, it is important for our institution and the people of Kansas City to have permanent administrative leadership. I will introduce legislation tomorrow to codify my selection of Mr. Platt and request that the Council affirm this recommendation.

Mr. Platt holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and has extensive management experience. He and his wife, Margo, have a two-year-old daughter and have significant family ties to Kansas City. Brian’s father-in-law, Marty Aaron, is a graduate of Center High School. Mr. Aaron’s mother is a graduate of Paseo High School. Several members of his family remain in Kansas City and have served our community as public school teachers and local business owners for decades.

Based upon Council’s recommendations and the candidate’s own strong credentials, I hope to see approval of Mr. Platt’s nomination and look forward to welcoming Mr. Platt and his family to Kansas City.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I am happy to visit at your convenience.

Very truly yours,
Quinton D. Lucas