February 4, 2024

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.

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