CMG June Book Of The Month A Passion for Purpose: Building Cities for Our Children

Category: Books Of The Month

by Sylvester “Sly” James
In this candid autobiography that seamlessly incorporates political philosophy, the life story of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James is told in a fast-paced, entertaining, informative, and authentic style.

Elected to the mayor’s office in 2011 as a political outsider, James immediately made his mark with his unflinching candor. That tone carries over to this book, as James holds nothing back when detailing the life experiences that shape his core values and beliefs.

James strongly believes the only government that runs efficiently is local government, and he details how politics on the civic level should be implemented on the state and federal stages. Although he was elected in a nonpartisan process, James reveals his strong and reasoned political leanings.

A fierce advocate for children, James has targeted reading proficiency for third graders as a benchmark for success in later life. Consistent with this, Education is the first of the “4 E Agenda” he created as mayor, along with Employment, Efficiency, and Enforcement.

The product of all-black neighborhoods, James always felt comfortable interacting with people different from himself—whether it be in forms of race, religion, ethnicity, or beliefs. In an era when segregation was still the norm, James attended a predominantly-white Catholic high school, was the sole black member in a rock band, and later entered into a mixed-race marriage. When he became the first black lawyer for a prestigious Kansas City law firm, James immediately thrived by showcasing his intelligence and work ethic.

Along with his service during the Vietnam War, these experiences laid the foundation for James to become mayor of a city that still bears the signs of an unofficially-segregated past.

When he won re-election to the office in 2015 with an amazing 87 percent of the vote, it was a crystal clear indication that James is first and foremost a unifier of the people.

A Passion For Purpose serves not just as the title of this revealing and perceptive book, but also as the mantra by which Sly James based his tenure as mayor–and his life.

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