Three of the four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the District 4 seat on the Johnson County Commission addressed the Northeast Johnson County Republican Women’s Club on Monday — and all three identified restraining spending as one of the biggest challenges facing the county.
Shawnee Mission School Board President Larry Winn, Overland Park city council member Donna Owens, and small businessman Chuck Vogt told the approximately 60 people gathered at the forum at Cascone’s Italian Restaurant in Overland Park that they would strive to find ways to keep costs in line, and that none would support any sales tax increases to fund education. The fourth candidate for the Republican nomination, Jason Osterhaus, was not at the event.
Winn, who received a primary endorsement from Johnson County Sun co-publisher Steve Rose, said his experience making tough budget choices on the school board gave him a good foundation in how to address the budget shortfalls the county is predicted to face in coming years.
“We are going to have to do more with less,” he said. “There’s no reason to get doomy and gloomy about it. We just have to be a little leaner and a little meaner, and we’ll be just fine.”
In some of her remarks, Owens identified provided services to the county’s elderly residents while finding ways to retain younger citizens as additional priorities.
“Providing access to services and offering a high quality of life to seniors is something that’s very important to me,” she said. “But we also need to look at how to make the area attractive to younger people. A lot of young people live downtown because they don’t think it’s as fun out here.”
Vogt told the crowd he would use the role of the county commissioner’s office to make sure that Johnson County “took its rightful place as the leader and the economic engine of this whole metropolitan area.”