For Jackson County’s 1st District, which includes Kansas City’s downtown and some of its most diverse areas, Manny Abarca easily prevailed in the Democratic primary.
Abarca will be the first Hispanic elected to the county legislature in nearly ten years if he prevails in the primary election in November.
“Our win is one of unity and to ensure that we concentrate on a new and restored county that people can trust and believe in,” adds Abarca.
Abarca most recently served in the office of Kansas City-based Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. Additionally, he is in his second term as the Kansas City Public School Board’s treasurer.
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With 58 percent of the vote on Tuesday, Abarca defeated Justice Horn, a community organizer, and Geoff Gerling, a former head of the Jackson County Democratic Party.
In November, he will compete against Christina McDonough Hunt, a Republican who ran unopposed.
Abarca claimed that his campaign’s efforts were validated by the large margin of victory.
“I was grateful when the data finally came in because it was evident,” says Abarca. “I was very proud of our team and the effort everyone put in to help me win the election, as well as those who gave me financial or voting support. I feel pretty competent and confident that I am prepared to start working and give everyone my best effort.
“The chance to sit down at the table”
Democratic incumbent Scott Burnett, initially elected in 1998, is leaving the 1st District seat.
It encompasses the Historic Northeast and West Side neighborhoods in addition to extending from the River Market through downtown, Midtown, and the Country Club Plaza in the south.
Latinos are the district’s largest minority group, with a Hispanic population of 21%, according to the 2020 Census. However, there haven’t been many Hispanic representatives in county government; Theresa Garza, who served on the Jackson County legislature from 2003 to 2015, was the last.
Abarca recognizes the significance of his candidacy to the Latino community in Kansas City as a fourth-generation Mexican-American whose great grandparents moved to the city.
They have a chance to sit at the table and a voice, according to Abarca. “And we’ve already had discussions with people about possible futures for the area. Additionally, I guarantee that it will contain more Latinos.
According to John Fierro, president of the Mattie Rhodes Center, a nonprofit organization in Kansas City, Abarca’s primary victory gives the neighborhood momentum.
Fierro proclaimed, “This is our time. “This is our chance to show that we are the leaders in this city and this county,” he said.
McDonough Hunt stated on social media that her candidacy faces a “tough climb ahead,” but she wants to win in November.
Abarca stated that he intends to battle the Republican Party’s hardline agenda throughout his general election campaign, particularly about diversity concerns.
Believe that I’m going to spread the progressive principles and message that people want to see in their elected representatives, said Abarca. Abarca will also concentrate on county-level property tax reform.
To lessen the detrimental effect, it is having on our communities, he stated, “We need to address those issues as soon as possible.”
Candidates’ reactions to setbacks
With 28% of the vote on Tuesday, Horn finished in second place. He opted to make a statement.
Throughout his campaign, Horn expressed his desire to be the first queer person of color elected to the county legislature. Horn stated on social media that it was an “honor of a lifetime” to serve the community she cares about.
Although the victory of Abarca did not surprise Gerling, the size of the margins did. Only 13% of the vote went to Gerling.
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