Bishop Johnston delivers the invocation at mayoral inauguration

Shortly before taking the oath of office as mayor of Kansas City, Quinton D. Lucas, seated at the lower left corner, and others in the room bowed their heads as Bishop James Johnston, Jr. of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese prays the invocation. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — In an Aug. 1 ceremony in the City Council Chambers on the 26th floor of City Hall, Quinton D. Lucas was sworn in as the 55th mayor of Kansas City. The chambers were packed with Lucas’ friends and family, the incoming City Council, media people and other guests, including Kansas City icon Alvin Brooks and former mayors, Dr. Charles Wheeler and Richard Berkeley.

As the proceedings got underway, the Youth Music Academy of Kansas City played in the lobby. Bridgette Williams, Executive Director of the Heavy Constructors Area of Kansas City, served as Presider. First, members of the Honor Guards of the Kansas City Missouri Fire and Police departments presented the Colors, the flags of the United States and the State of Missouri. Brandonn Mixon, a U.S. Army veteran and co-founder of the Veteran’s Community Project led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance. The National Anthem was sung by the Oak Park High School Choir.

Bishop James Johnston, Jr., of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was introduced and gave the invocation, the first Catholic bishop to do so at a Kansas City mayoral inauguration in many years.

He prayed: “Almighty God: You who made us and sustain us with Your love; Scripture tells us that not only did you create the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, but even more wondrously, that You knit each of us together in the womb, You created us in Your image, and thereby bestowed a great and guaranteed dignity on each and every human being. 
Help us to always work to honor and protect that dignity.
Help us to be mindful of the poor and protect the weak.
Help us to heal the racial divides that bring sorrow to our city.
Help us to be builders of both prosperity and peace.
Help us to reflect Your light in the world by actions guided by truth, integrity and service. 
Make us good stewards of time and money and freedom, and all the other blessings we have received. 
And on this day when our new Mayor takes on the office of responsibility—this day of new opportunity:  Bless Mayor Lucas and his family as he begins his time of service; bless the members of our City Council, their families, and all the men and women who serve our city along with them. 
And pour down your blessing upon all Kansas Citians, so that all can flourish in peace and prosperity and goodness.
We ask this in your holy Name, confident in your love and mercy.  Amen.”

Former Mayor Sly James stepped forward and acknowledged the retiring City Council then called his successor to the podium. James presented Lucas with a bag containing sterling silver cufflinks with KC engraved on them, so the new mayor could “wear his feelings for the city on his sleeve.”

There was also a flask in the bag, which was greeted with laughter.

As the outgoing and incoming mayors sat down, Williams called on the Honorable Sharice Davids, U.S. Representative for the Third District of Kansas, to introduce her friend and law school classmate, Quinton D. Lucas.

She called it a regional celebration, watching her Cornell University Law School “classmate take the initiative and drive to push through obstacles to lead the city of Kansas City.”

Both Lucas and Davids were raised by single mothers who struggled to make ends meet. She commented on that fact, and that Lucas had been able to win a scholarship to Barstow School in south Kansas City, which propelled him into Washington University to earn a B.A. in Political Science. He studied abroad in South Africa, living in Cape Town and what he saw and learned about politics and apartheid shaped his future approach to democracy, building consensus and relationships in very divided surroundings. He attended Cornell for Law School, where he met Davids. After earning his law degree, he joined the faculty of the K.U. Law School in 2012. Lucas was elected to the Kansas City City Council in 2015, and as Mayor in 2019.

She summed up her thoughts, hoping for “truly one Kansas City, one that works together, taking the entrepreneurship that is part of the DNA of the community, and turning it into something great for this city.” 

She also said that she would take Bishop Johnston’s prayer with her as they were “powerful words.” 

The Honorable Judge Duane Benton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit administered the Oath of Office to Mayor Lucas, who then delivered his inaugural address.

He spoke of a new administration, new city council, a new day, but celebrating that while recognizing those who have come before us. He especially acknowledged Dick Berkeley and Sly James.

“We all (referring to the new Council and himself) got into this endeavor to do something, not be something. … We will still have important work to do to ensure we’re continuing our steps toward free public bus transit for all in our city, toward making sure every dollar sent to us by each taxpayer and each ratepayer in our city is spent wisely, fairly, and consistently with the promises we’ve made to voters, to give more people who may have had trouble in the past a second chance, and to make sure a law enforcement officer or a teenage worker, or perhaps one of our family members or friends has the opportunity to get home safely tonight.”

Quinton Lucas at his Inauguration ceremony at City Hall on Aug. 1. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

Lucas said the next four years would be busy: public safety; opportunity for workforce development and stable housing in all neighborhoods, fixing broken infrastructure, fiscal responsibility and governmental openness and transparency. He described it as a time of renewal.

He said he is lucky to have his family but considers Kansas City raised him too. “The adversity I faced here made me stronger. The public investment in our library system made me wiser, the churches, safety net hospitals and community organizations of our city made me healthier and safer. And seeing people on television like Emmanuel Cleaver and Kay Barnes made me know I could dream of doing anything.”

In conclusion, the new mayor said, “Our work now is to expand that hope to every person in our city, young and old. Our work is to make sure that no one is left behind in Kansas City in our next generation and … that we leave this City and its diverse neighborhoods safer, healthier and stronger than we find them today. I welcome the challenge … your prayers … the hard work ahead. … God bless and you and God bless this great City.”

The new City Council was introduced, and the Oath administered by Marilyn Sanders, Clerk of Kansas City to Heather Hall, Kevin O’Neill, Teresa Loar, Dan Fowler, Brandon Ellington, Melissa Robinson, Katheryn Shields, Eric Bunch, Lee Barnes, Jr., Ryana Park-Shaw, Andrea Bough and Kevin McManus.

Following the applause when they said, “I do,” Rev. Donald Lindsey Senior Pastor of Concord Fortress of Hope Baptist Church delivered the benediction.

And Mayor Lucas began his new office of responsibility and opportunity.

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Saturday
October 19, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph