Laura McConwell and Ron Shaffer both have long records in civic life and as mayors of northeast Johnson County cities. Both predict that experience will suit them well if they are elected to the first district county commission seat next month.
McConwell and Shaffer fielded questions on issues facing the county Wednesday during a forum at the Corinth Library:
Growing poverty in the county – Shaffer said the county must become aware of the situation and work with agencies that provide services, cooperating with them to find a resolution. McConwell pointed to her work in Mission where she said he community worked with the schools and worked on transportation options for those in poverty. County services to people facing poverty should not be cut, she said.
JO operations consolidation – Both McConwell and Shaffer said the new combination makes sense for the county and that other options for cooperation may be available.
Creating communities for all ages – Shaffer said neighborhoods are now loaded with seniors and that neighbors are looking out for them. Seniors appreciate the safety net that is in place for them, he said. McConwell said young families and seniors have some common interests such as good sidewalks. In Mission, she said, the city created opportunities and housing options for seniors to walk to what they need as well as programs at the community center geared to seniors.
Sheriff’s budget – McConwell said the commission and sheriff should work together on a budget but that the sheriff is an elected official and it is presumptuous for the commission to tell the sheriff what to do. Shaffer said when an official submits a budget, they should stick to it.
Parks for NEJC – Shaffer said the county is developing parks it already has but planning is in progress. McConwell said the county could partner with cities without duplicating services.
Closing – McConwell said as mayor of Mission she dealt with issues of aging infrastructure and property that had been put in the flood plain. She brought the city together to plan for the future, she said. Shaffer, who is still serving as mayor of Prairie Village, said the question is who is best qualified for the job. He said the county should follow the vision it has set and that the goal is not to do anything to “mess it up.”