Sly James

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For the singer of the same name, see Sylvester (singer).
Sylvester "Sly" James, Jr.
54th Mayor of Kansas City
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 2, 2011
Preceded by Mark Funkhouser
Personal details
Born (1951-12-09) December 9, 1951 (age 63)
Kansas City, Missouri
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Licia Clifton-James
Children Eric, Malik, Kyle, and Aja James
Residence Kansas City, Missouri
Website http://www.kcmayor.org

Sylvester "Sly" James, Jr. (born December 9, 1951), is the Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. James lives in Kansas City's Hyde Park neighborhood. He was inaugurated as Mayor on May 2, 2011.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

James grew up on the East side of Kansas City, at 44th Street and Montgall Avenue. He graduated from Bishop Hogan High School in 1969. There, he was the lead singer of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Flying Band (later renamed Manchester Trafficway) from 1965 to 1970. The band was the opening act for Jefferson Airplane when it performed in Kansas City.[1][2]

In 1971 James joined the Marines and served as a military policeman in California, Japan, and the Philippines; he was honorably discharged in 1975.[1][2]

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Rockhurst College in 1980, graduating cum laude. In college, he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Thereafter, he attended law school at the Syracuse University College of Law from 1980 to 1981, but then transferred to the University of Minnesota Law School, where he received a juris doctor degree in 1983, again graduating cum laude.[1][2]

After law school, James returned to Kansas City and joined the law firm of Blackwell Sanders Matheny Weary & Lombardi as an associate; in 1990, he became the firm's first African-American partner. In 1993, he and Nancy Kenner left to form their own firm, Kenner & James, P.C., specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home negligence. In 2002 he left to start the Sly James Firm, where he continued to specialize in personal injury and other civil litigation, as well as mediation. Between 1992 and 2002, he served as a member, secretary, and later the president of the Missouri Board of Law of Examiners. In 2003 he served as president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association in 2003.[1][2]

In 2012 Newsweek / The Daily Beast included James in its list of most innovative mayors for his work in turning Kansas City into the "Silicon Prairie," spurring its entrepreneurial development and for partnering with Google to bring their ultra-high speed broadband network to the city.[3]

2011 mayoral election[edit]

In 2010, despite having held no previous public elected office, James announced his candidacy for mayor of Kansas City in the city's 2011 non-partisan election. In February 2011, he finished first in the primary with 27 percent of the vote; Kansas City attorney and Platte County resident Mike Burke finished second with 26 percent, and incumbent mayor Mark Funkhouser finished third, with 21 percent.

The race for the general runoff election on March 22, 2011, between James and Burke was described as low-key and cordial. Whereas James had been endorsed by the Kansas City Star, Burke had been endorsed by former mayors Charlie Wheeler, Richard L. Berkley, and Kay Barnes.[4][5] Ultimately, with only 21 percent of the City's registered voters voting, James defeated Burke by 54 percent to 46 percent. James celebrated his victory at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City's 18th and Vine District.

James is the second African-American mayor in Kansas City's history after Emanuel Cleaver.

Kansas City Mayoral election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Sly James 38,265 54%
Nonpartisan Mike Burke 32,117 46%

2011 Plaza shooting incident[edit]

On August 13, 2011, James and entourage were touring the Country Club Plaza to investigate a request from Highwoods Properties (which manages the buildings in the Plaza) about imposing a 9 p.m. curfew on the Plaza because of unruly teens gathering there at night. During the tour about 11:30 p.m. gunfire broke out near 47th Street and Wyandotte Avenue, about 50 yards from the mayor. Three people were shot—two boys, ages 13 and 16, who were shot in the legs and a 15-year-old girl whose face was grazed by a bullet.[6][7] Less than a week after the shooting the city council in a 13‑0 vote approved a curfew in the city. The curfew is 9 p.m. will apply from late May through September in five Kansas City entertainment areas (and 10 p.m. elsewhere) for children under 15 and under, 11 p.m. for 16- and 17-year-olds. There is a 10 p.m. curfew elsewhere for children 15 and under and 11 p.m. for those 16 and 17. Other times of the year will have an 11 p.m. curfew on weeknights and midnight on weekends for everyone under age 18.[8]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mark Funkhouser
Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri
2011-present
Succeeded by
Incumbent