February 6, 2024

Independence City Council Election Results


Candidates with a ✪ will advance to the April 2 City Election.


John Perkins 329 37.26%
Tony Sommers 279 31.60%
Colleen Huff 275 31.14%


Heather Wiley 1,027 57.28%
Nick Huff 305 17.01%
Edward Nesbitt 281 15.67%
Kenneth Love 180 10.04

February 4, 2024

Independence City Council Election February 6

The Independence Gazette invited the candidates for City Council to write about what challenges the city faces, and how they plan to help make Independence a better place to live, work, and do business. We'd like to thank the candidates who took the time to reply:

Kenneth Love (District 3)

John Perkins (District 1)

Tony Sommer (District 1)

We encourage everyone to show up at the polls on Tuesday, February 6 and let YOUR voices be heard when the votes are counted!

Tony Sommer - District 1 Candidate



My name is Tony Sommer. I've lived in Independence my whole life, growing up in the Blackburn area and graduating from Truman in 2009. I went to college at Washington University in St. Louis where I majored in Physics before coming back home to get my Masters in Computer Science from UMKC. I bought my house a half mile from the Square ten years ago and have lived here ever since, and plan to live the rest of my life here.

Independence is home to me unlike any other city can be. I would know, I've spent a lot of time in a lot of places around the world. From 3 months in Beijing to 6 weeks in the Netherlands, I've lived like a local all over the world. But every time I'm out of town I'm away from home. 

I am running because I want my home to be great. Not good. Not acceptable. Great. But greatness doesn't just happen. It should go without saying that discriminating against some residents doesn't lead to greatness. Neither does working for the "Good Ol' Boys Club" at the expense of the citizens. That alone makes the decision in District 1 easy.

But that's not enough. 

One of my proudest accomplishments in life is learning to speak Chinese. Not because Chinese is particularly difficult (it's actually easier than you'd think). Learning any language is a long and difficult process, a process I didn't truly appreciate when I took my first Chinese class in college. I was so bad I actually got singled out for extra lessons by the professor! But after a very long and painful process I finally accomplished my goal.

Learning Spanish was much easier, which had little to do with the language itself. Instead learning Chinese taught me what it took to accomplish a difficult goal, lessons I have applied to everything in life. If you want to do something great, you can't just sit around and do the bare minimum. You have to bring 100% of your energy and focus to accomplishing the task. Anything short of that won't get you to where you need to be. That difference in approach is why learning to speak Chinese took me 10 years, while learning Spanish only took 2.

That approach is what I brought to this election. I have knocked on the door of every likely voter twice. That's a lot of time in the rain and the cold and the snow knocking on doors to learn what the citizens want for their city. I also met with the head of every city department to make sure that I had a strong knowledge of the city operations. I did the research and did careful consideration to be the only candidate capable of putting together a plan to end homelessness (https://www.tonysommer.org/homelessness).

That approach is what I'll bring to the city council as well. Too often our leaders think good enough is good enough (or sometimes even bad is good enough). That won't be the case if I'm on the council. I will demand only the highest standard from myself and from the other council members. Every decision, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, deserves serious analytical and detail-oriented consideration. 

This will upset some people. Even before election day I have ruffled some feathers because of my insistence that anybody who seeks to hold public office in my hometown should be held to the highest standard. But this is the way it has to be if we want Independence to be a truly great city.

February 1, 2024

John Perkins - District 1 Candidate


Thank you for allowing me to talk about District 1. 

District 1 borders two cities, Kansas City, Sugar Creek, and unincorporated Jackson County.  The 1st District has the most socioeconomic and cultural make-up boasting 4 distinct areas: The Historic Square, Englewood, Maywood, and Fairmount.  We are a cultural melting pot for our community withs Hispanic, Island Pacific, and African American heritages. 

A top priority when elected was to bring economic development and reduce blight.  The city has spent over a half a million dollars for the removal of dangerous commercial and residential structures since that time.  This has helped to revitalize the Englewood area and surrounding neighborhoods.  My focus now is revitalizing old town Fairmount using the 24 Highway Complete Street Program for an economic development.  The 24 Highway Complete Street Program is the largest capital investment in northwest Independence in over 40 years.  Conversations with city leaders, stakeholders and the development community are under way and will continue through the coming months.

Working to protect our neighborhoods and schools, I helped establish the city’s first Street Crime Unit.  The Street Crime Unit is dedicated to strategically fighting crime in our neighborhoods.  I have worked to increase the funding for our police department to give them the tools and technology needed to prevent and respond to crime.

One of the challenges facing Independence and the 1st District is homelessness.  Although there are no easy answers, we have partnered with Community Services League to start the Independence TOGETHER program.  This program employs houseless individuals to clean up our roadways.  The success of this program can be measured two ways.  The first, several people have worked hard and have found permanent housing due to the opportunity to work.  The second is by the amount of trash that has been picked up off our roadways- 250,000 pounds.  Community partners are working together to establish Independence’s first drop-in center.  This center will work to meet the basic needs of those who are homeless such as: showers, laundry facilities, and wrap-around services.  The ARCH program, Alternative Response to Community Health, is a mobile crisis team that works in conjunction with our police department to assure individuals suffering from a mental health crisis can receive proper care.

There is still plenty of work left to do and I know that we as a community are up to the challenge.

Thank you,

John Perkins

Kenneth Love - District 3 Candidate


I'm Kenneth Love, and I'm running for 3rd District City Council. I've run for both council and mayor in the past. And yes, I keep running because I believe citizens deserve someone who will speak up and be their voice. Something we haven't had for a long time. I'm ready to challenge the status quo.

I'm not a polished, slick politician. Being originally from Louisiana, I'm about as down-to-earth and real as it gets. I'm proud to be a citizen of Independence, but I'm concerned with the direction the city has gone in the last 10 years. I want to be the council member who's truly for the citizens – not myself or some special interest group.

There are so many issues and problems that have been ignored; it's hard to know what to tackle first. But I've been chewing on some things since I decided to run again, and I feel there are a few issues that need addressing sooner than later. Let me lay them out for you so you know where I stand and what I want to do.

First, and probably one of the most important issues, is wasteful spending. It sure seems like the city thinks money grows on trees, but we need to cut the fat. Tighten our purse strings and put your hard-earned dollars where they matter most – like fixing our deteriorating roads.

Our streets are looking rough, and I'm sure citizens' cars have taken a beating because of it. It's time we adopt an entire street maintenance program – not just for a few of the main roads. Potholes the size of moon craters are going to end up costing citizens. Let's smooth things over and make our roads and driving experience better.

When it comes to crime, especially the uptick in violent crimes, we have to stop turning a blind eye. I aim to work hand in hand with our law enforcement to tackle this head-on. Safe streets are happy streets, and I won't back down on this because citizens deserve a safe city.

The homeless crisis is another growing problem we need to start addressing. It's time to roll up our sleeves and find real solutions. I know the struggles the homeless face. Let's not just talk about helping; let's start finding a solution.

We also have a slum landlord problem. Many investors and individual rental property owners have gotten away with violations for too long. We need strict enforcement of licensing, hefty fines for neglecting properties, and making sure the repairs actually get done. It's time for landlords to clean up their act and give renters homes that are clean and safe.

I've been a resident here in Independence for 24 years now, and I'm no stranger to the needs of this city – owning a small rental property business myself has given me a front-row seat to the ongoing problems.

Citizens are the heart and soul of Independence, and it's about time their voices are heard. I'm running for council to be a representative for citizens who'll listen to them, speak up, and fight for real change. Let's make Independence a place we're all proud to call home again.

Vote Kenneth Love on February 6th for 3rd District Council – the no-frills, no slick rhetoric choice for a city that deserves better. Together, we'll make changes happen.

I sincerely appreciate your support.