Barnes is a Democrat and is the first female mayor of Kansas City. Mayor Barnes has received the most credit for her work in improving Downtown Kansas City and working for beginning the revitalization of the urban core. She is also credited with the Sprint Center arena in Kansas City that is scheduled to be completed in mid or late 2007 around the time when her term will expire.
A native of St. Joseph, Missouri and is a cousin of famous newsman Walter Cronkite. She has a B.S. degree in secondary education from the University of Kansas and a masters in secondary education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 1974, she was one of the first two women on the Jackson County Legislature. She was elected to the Kansas City council in 1979. She was president of Kay Waldo, Inc., a human resources development firm until she retired.
At Missouri Democratic functions, beginning in April, 2007, Mayor Barnes has made it clear that she is seriously considering a run for Congress in 2008 for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio. Barnes has gotten plenty of encouragement. At the Missouri Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner held at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis in April, 2007, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., touched off cheers from the large crowd when she referred to Mayor Barnes as “Congresswoman Barnes.”
Barnes was succeeded as mayor of Kansas City on May 1, 2007, when Mark Funkhouser took office. On May 14, 2007 she announced her candidacy for the 6th Congressional District seat, currently held by Sam Graves.