While the nation is seemingly more divided than ever, Kansas City mayors on both sides of state line are working together.
Along with officials from 62 other cities and counties across the nation, Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Mo. and Mayor Mark Holland of Kansas City, Kan. showed their support for a bipartisan effort to expand broadband.
Representing the non-partisan, non-profit organization Next Century Cities, the group of officials sent a letter to President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday. The group, which represents nearly 16 million Americans, expressed their desire for broadband access, affordability and local solutions.
“This is something we’ve made a focus in Kansas City,” said Mayor James in a release. “Digital access is the infrastructure of the next century. When we foster a digitally accessible community, we build a stronger future for all our residents.”
Touting broadband internet access as the key to prosperity, the letter nodded to successful local policies such as One Touch Make Ready and Dig Once, both of which aim to capitalize on utility-related construction to increase broadband access. Next Century Cities encouraged federal leaders to listen to local voices on this matter.
“As technology advances, more and more essential services are becoming accessible online — from education to healthcare to paying your bill,” Mayor Mark Holland of Kansas City, Kansas said in a release. “The Internet, in other words, is no longer just a privilege for those who have the means to afford it. It is an essential utility. And as a utility, we must work to make it accessible to all of our residents, no matter their income.”
For many inner city families — specifically in neighborhoods like Northeast Wyandotte County and East of Troost Avenue — nearly 80 percent of households do not have ready access to computers or the Internet, according to Connecting for Good.
Kansas City Digital Drive said echoed this sentiment and stated that the organization is eager for the federal government to take steps. To read more, click here.
Earlier this year, native Kansan Ajit Pai was selected by President Donald Trump to lead the Federal Communications Commission. Although Pai is critical of net neutrality, he is known for supporting programs that increase broadband access, including Dig Once.