Chris Hernandez (NBC Action News) — The Citizens Association held to a debate Tuesday night to decide which candidate to endorse in next spring’s election for Kansas City mayor.
Mike Burke won the endorsement.
But a prominent member of the CA has resigned in protest and is blowing the whistle on the screening process.
The Citizens Association bills itself as the city’s oldest civic group dedicated to good government.
But a Dan Porrevecchio says the group has failed to follow its own rules while picking a candidate to endorse.
“What I objected to was the process,” Porrevecchio told NBC Action News.
Porrevecchio was on the Association’s board and says board members were discussing in advance how to exclude the current mayor, Mark Funkhouser.
“There were conversations that were taking place early on to indicate that the board would not support the mayor. My position was, we should have a full and open debate,” said Porrevecchhio.
Funkhouser participated in Monday’s screening with six other candidates, but did not make the cut for Tuesday’s debate.
“I don’t think any other group will exclude the sitting mayor,” said Funkhouser.
The debate featured four candidates picked by the CA: Deb Hermann , Sly James , Mike Burke and Jim Rowland.
But the behind-the-scenes controversy in trying to make the first big endorsement signals a long, tough campaign.
Here is Porrevecchio’s resignation letter:
November 9, 2010
It was an honor to be appointed to Chair the Candidate Screening Committee for this election season. I believed in this organization, and appreciated the opportunity to showcase the Mission of good government the Citizens Association represented. So I was a bit surprised when you rejected the opportunity to have a televised debate among the candidates for Mayor.
After that, as work progressed on this committee, I found myself in fundamental disagreement with the process that would govern this year’s screening of Mayoral candidates. It was a significant departure from my experience with Citizens Association screenings over the past 15 years. My concerns were brought to your attention more than once, but they were overruled.
Our charter states that we are dedicated to providing careful and thorough screening of candidates for Mayor and City Council. I don’t believe those standards have been applied faithfully in this mayoral screening process, and I have made my position known to you on several occasions.
I also do not believe our screening process has been inclusive and transparent, and I cannot abide what I believe to be a compromise of principle. Therefore, I am resigning my position with the Citizens Association effective immediately.
Vice Chairman, 5th District