The spring election season is upon Johnson County, and dozens of mayoral and council seats are up for grabs, promising hot contests and plenty of fireworks.
The first phase of the elections is the primaries on Feb. 26. Primary races are those that have more than two candidates, and the two with the most votes will face off in the general election April 2.
Elections also will be held for eight school board seats, Johnson County Community College trustees and Water District No. 1 board seats.
In Roeland Park, Mayor Adrienne Foster, who also is an adviser to Gov. Sam Brownback on Hispanic issues, faces a primary against two other candidates.
The city is facing the loss of its Wal-Mart to the city of Mission and with it goes a huge chunk of the city’s revenue. The mayor will have to guide the city through a possible financial tsunami.
Foster was first elected to the council in 2005 and became mayor in 2009. She has been criticized for suggesting that the city eliminate several city departments, including the police department, to save money.
One of her opponents is Joel Marquardt, an architect for Gastinger Walker Harden + Bee Triplett Buck, which melds architecture, engineering and art “to make unique spaces.”
His work is displayed around the metropolitan area, including the traffic light trusses at Interstate 35 and 87th Street Parkway in Lenexa.
The third mayoral candidate is former Councilwoman Linda Mau. Mau was on the council from 2003 to 2007. She ran for re-election in 2011 but lost. Mau is a longtime voice in city government and has raised concerns about city plans to replace its lost Wal-Mart revenue, such as increasing sales taxes.
One of the more interesting primary elections will be the Ward 2 council seat in Shawnee.
Allan Willoughby, the mayor’s uncle, was appointed to the seat last summer and has filed to keep the seat.
Willoughby’s appointment made news when Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced that he was investigating allegations that the appointment was the result of state open meetings violations. The investigation is continuing.
The Ward 2 seat had been vacated last spring by Councilman David Morrison after he decided he could no longer work with City Manager Carol Gonzales.
Willoughby, a mechanical engineer who is retired from the Ford Motor Co., will face Mike Kemmling, Trishelle Miller and Jill Y. Reed. Kemmling lost a by a hair’s breadth in last spring’s council races. He sought to be appointed to the Ward 2 open seat but lost out to Willoughby.
Another charged Shawnee race, which won’t be decided until the April 2 general election, is between Dan Pflumm, who owns a business across from City Hall and has held the Ward 1 seat since 2002, and John Segale, a former Shawnee city councilman and Johnson County commissioner who ran for mayor last spring and lost.
In Lenexa, Lou Serrone, who was appointed by the mayor to the Ward 3 seat in 2009, will be vying to keep the seat. He previously was a Lenexa councilmember from 1989 to 1997.
He faces Jennifer Lindsey, who has a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership and is currently working for FedEx Ground while obtaining her real estate license. She wants to preserve Lenexa’s quality of living.
The third opponent is Joshua Johnston.
Primary also races will be held in Fairway, Merriam and Overland Park.
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