KCK commissioner says mayor wants to ‘silence’ critics, stripped him from committees

Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas Commissioner Andrew Davis on Monday accused Mayor Tyrone Garner of attempting to “silence” him by recently stripping away his committee assignments, saying the move is seemingly the latest example of Garner’s desire to “rule with an iron fist.”

Davis, 8th District, told The Star on Monday the mayor offered no explanation for why he would no longer continue to serve on committees, which are made up of elected officials to craft and approve legislation for final consideration by the full Commission. He was previously assigned to ones that handle policies related to economic development, finance and community development.

On Friday, as commissioners were given a document detailing the committee assignments, Davis said he noticed that his name was absent from the list.

“It kind of came out from nowhere … There was no justification for it at all. ” said Davis, who has been an outspoken critic of the mayor, saying that he believes recent efforts by commissioners to change rules and procedures angered Garner.

“I think there’s been direct efforts to silence me,” Davis added.

Asked by The Star to address the concerns and criticisms raised by Davis, Garner said through a UG spokesperson via email: “That is a privileged conversation between Commissioner Davis and I therefore I have no public comment.”

The latest conflict comes in the midst of a protracted power struggle between Mayor Garner and a majority of commissioners. Tensions within the government body flared in full public view over recent weeks following an attempt to limit Garner’s ability as mayor to determine what is voted on by commissioners during public meetings.

In mid-December, the Commission voted 9-1 to limit the mayor’s control over government meeting agendas, which would effectively remove his ability to table legislation at public hearings — an action that Garner vehemently opposed and was apparently caught off-guard by.

Supporters of Garner have stepped up to voice opposition as well. Earlier this month, a cohort appeared during a full meeting of the commission with homemade protest signs and stern words for members of the elected body, saying they overstepped by curbing the power of a mayor they voted for.

On Jan. 12, Garner vetoed the measure concerning his own authority. Commissioners did not attempt a vote to override the veto, instead directing Unified Government staff to draft a piece of compromise legislation.

On Thursday, Commissioners met to discuss that compromise. It was tabled as several members said they were unhappy with what was brought forward.

Davis was among those who spoke to the issue last week. During a phone interview with The Star Monday, he said Garner has long been “out-of-step” with commissioners and appears to be approaching his role as if he were elected by “a landslide” without regard to the consequences of his actions on the district Davis represents.

Davis says he intends to continue representing the more than 20,000 people in his district to the best of his ability despite an action that will affect his direct role in Unified Government. He added that he believes the mayor’s action represents a broader issue in Wyandotte County where younger generations, including Millenials and Gen-Xers, are being stifled.

“We all ran for office, we all won,” Davis said, referencing the elected members of the Commission, adding: “I think the sooner Mayor Garner understands that, the sooner we can move Wyandotte County forward.”