Councilmember Jermaine Reed, Kansas City, Missouri

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Kansas City, Missouri, Councilmember Jermaine Reed was first elected in 2011 and assumed office as the youngest councilmember in the city’s history, representing the 3rd District. Reelected in 2015, his public-private development model focused on renewing urban landscapes and has helped revitalize Kansas City’s urban core with more than $100 million in economic development. In addition to serving on the National League of Cities (NLC) board of directors, Mid-America Regional Council and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO), he is the State Director of Young Elected Officials. Councilmember Reed is a determined leader dedicated to empowering the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri.

As a young elected official and a black male, what are your thoughts on the recent events involving law enforcement and underserved communities across the country?
My heart is so heavy when I think about the relationships between police and communities of color across our country. It reminds me — as a black male — how our society sometimes takes us for granted. There are a safeguards that need to be in place when it comes to interactions between police and communities of color. The current systems need to be overhauled — starting with how officers are selected and the training they receive to how they interact with the residents of the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.

With this in mind, why did you decide to run for office?
I wanted to make a difference in my community. At a very young age, I noticed the disparities that plague urban communities — including where I grew up. I knew I wanted to be a change-maker. For me, it was never enough just talking about differences — I wanted to actually make them.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s very simple advice: “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

What advice do you have for newly elected officials and/or recently appointed city staff?
Don’t run for office expecting the glitz and glamour. We are public servants who answer to the residents of our communities, who expect us to not only make a difference but to address their concerns. Our constituents all want a piece of the pie. The only question is: “Are we delivering Patti Pies , or crumbs from the pie?"

What is the best part of serving your community?
To be able to work on something over a period of time and see the fruits of your labor. For me, it’s a new police station and a new rapid transit system. Actually being able to see these things implemented has been very rewarding.

If you weren't doing what you do now, what would it be?
I’d be a TV anchor, a radio show host, or a philanthropist.

If there were a book written about your life, what would the title be?
The Story of Jermaine Reed: Determination, Perseverance, and Overcoming Obstacles.

Guilty pleasure?
Wow, I’ve actually never told anyone this, but it's “people watching."