Given his hard work in crafting solutions to pressing city problems, his firm grasp of a wide array of issues and his hitting the brakes when city action strikes him unfair or unworkable, Community Bank & Trust vice president and trust officer John Kinnaird has proven an excellent model of the very sort of candidates he once sought out and recruited for public office when still a member of the nonpartisan Association for Good Government. We have no hesitation in recommending that voters in District 3 in southwest Waco re-elect him to the Waco City Council.
One might disagree with some of his dissents from the rest of the council on key votes to strengthen the city’s smoke-free ordinance or rein in what some say are the predatory practices of payday lenders in Waco. Yet his reservations are always based on studied research and stone-cold logic to the extent the rest of his council colleagues readily concede his arguments, even as they cancel out his vote.
Nor does Kinnaird sit like a lump of coal in defeat. For instance, after being the sole vote against a city ordinance regulating payday lenders, Kinnaird continues to do more than almost anyone in finding workable alternatives to more regulation, even as some irked at his payday vote have rallied around an opponent in the May 7 election. His efforts through Prosper Waco have focused on an employer-based Community Loan Center making low-interest loans and standardized financial literacy curriculum to help hard-working people better invest and save what they earn.
Some insist Kinnaird is too pro-business. Our interview with him and our review of his work over the past four years (he won election to the council with the resignation of Randy Riggs in 2012) convince us that Kinnaird merely believes business can be a pivotal part of many solutions. And his vote on the smoke-free ordinance should remind all city leaders to show at least some caution when revisiting earlier decisions — particularly after businesses have gone and invested money in dutifully complying.
Perhaps best of all, Kinnaird is not afraid to voice respectful dissent. Yet he doesn’t engage in bombastic rhetoric and some of his colleagues see him as an unusually well-informed, industrious partner. One gets accustomed to seeing him involved in everything, whether battling poverty through Prosper Waco, trying to set transportation priorities through the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization or setting the pace on preventative health-care measures through membership on the public health district board. He’s only 36.
Challenger Dustin Weins, 33, definitely has his heart in the right place, but his lack of knowledge about complex issues such as poverty and the work Prosper Waco is doing presently leave him ill-prepared to be a “voice of the people.”