County Commission candidates on the issues: Biggest differences between you and your opponent


We close out our readers’ questionnaire for the candidates with an exploration of where the differences lie between those vying for the County Chair and District 1 Commissioner seats:

What are the three most important differences between you and your opponent?

Ed Eilert lead the primary field with 41 percent of the vote.

Ed Eilert, Commission Chair incumbent

  • Private Sector Business Experience — I have 40 years of experience in the investment business as a financial advisor and served 12 years as a board member of a community bank. I continue to serve as a board member of a trust company. This broad private sector, financial and banking experience has provided valuable skills in managing the budget and financial responsibilities of county government.
  • Local Government Management Experience — As a member of a city council, mayor and 4th district county commissioner, that experience has been key to a very successful first term as Chairman of the BOCC. I haven’t talked about keeping taxes low, reducing the size of government and saving taxpayer dollars—I’ve done all those things in past positions and during my first term as Chairman. In addition, my leadership brought our county government through the “Great Recession” in a strong financial condition, maintained needed services and kept the county Triple AAA bond rating.
  • A Record of Productive Service in Local Government – I have led or participated with private sector economic development groups and local government groups that have brought successful economic development and thousands of jobs to Johnson County. The Kansas City Area Economic Development Council, Mid-America Regional Council, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board, Olathe Chamber of Commerce Board and Chairman of the Johnson County Education Research Triangle Authority are area boards that I continue active participation. I also am a member of and continue to work with community based service groups and non-profits.

My promise for the next four years is a continued commitment to excellence in local government and a commitment to building a community of opportunity, a community which will continue to be known as a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Patricia_LightnerPatricia Lightner, Commission Chair candidate
The three most important differences between me and my opponent are:

  • I am not a career politician of 36 years – As a State Representative I did not believe that my seat was one that I should hold for decades because I was the only person with “the experience.” Our government is a representative and citizen government and to that extent I termed myself out after six years to allow others the opportunity to bring in fresh ideas to serve the people.
  • Open and Transparent Government – As a former chairman of the Kansas House Insurance Committee for two years during my tenure as an elected state Representative: I never had any meetings or participated in any other House Committee meetings that were not held in the meeting room where they are recorded as our current county government is doing now. My experience as a public servant has always been to be as transparent and open of government as possible. I would also make it a mission to have our county budget more transparent and easily accessible on line so that taxpayers could view how their county tax dollars are being spent.
  • Taxes – It is my philosophy that taxpayer money should be spent as effectively and wisely as possible so as to deliver the amenities that Johnson Countians request for the least amount as possible. Also, to work on providing the needs of the county first, instead of wasteful spending like the purchase of the King Louie Building which my opponent voted for several years ago. Instead, I would work to solve the county’s needs, for example; the county needs an expanded wastewater treatment plant that handles the growing population of our county. Additionally, our courthouse is in need of costly renovations and updating. These are expensive but very necessary projects that must be addressed instead of buying old dilapidated buildings from the past. I would focus our tax dollar spending on funding these very important capital improvements instead of wasting our taxpayer dollars on old buildings.

McConwell_25Laura McConwell, District 1 Commissioner candidate

  • 1) I have shown I can bring a community together. As Mayor of Mission, we invited the community to participate in planning, creating and implementing goals for our city. We provided a platform to share diverse interests/voices from within our community to create common goals. Then we began to work toward the goals. Many times it was challenging but it was the right thing to do and it moved our city forward.
  • 2) I am committed, and have the courage to make decisions and take actions that benefit our future. I view my responsibility as an elected official to continually challenge us to do better. Our world is rapidly changing, we need to be equipped and prepared for it. My opponent’s goal to “not mess it up” is a rather low bar. We can always do better.
  • 3) While I do not like to use gender as a reference point, the fact of the matter is that women govern and manage differently than men. At present the County Commission is solely governed by men. In the 14 years that I was in elected office, I observed more positive solutions achieved when diverse voices were present. To not have the different styles and voices represented on the County Commission does a disservice to the County.

Thanks to the PVPost for providing this forum. I look forward to serving as the next 1st District County Commissioner. Please vote November 4!

ShafferRon Shaffer, District 1 Commissioner candidate
Endorsed by the Mainstream Coalition and the Sierra Club, I am the candidate who will bring leadership and trust, experience and a record of: lower sales tax, prudent financial planning, no driveway tax, low municipal debt, first class amenities and safe communities.

  • As an architect licensed in 13 states, an entrepreneur and small business owner, I have professionally and personally invested in the communities of the First District. In 1979, I started my architectural firm in Merriam. I chaired the Merriam Chamber of Commerce, helped lead, initiate and merge the Merriam Chamber with the Mission Chamber to create the current Northeast Johnson County Chamber, representing all 10 Northeast cities. I helped create the Leadership Northeast program and then chaired the first class.
  • As Prairie Village Mayor, our city received the highest bond rating from Moody’s of Triple Aaa. Only 5 governmental agencies in Kansas have this rating. Prairie Village has a low municipal debt of $335 per person. At the end of fiscal year 2013, the city had $7.3 million in reserves. Prairie Village’s recently renovated shopping centers are attractive with new destination businesses and restaurants. Mission has a municipal debt of $4566 per person and has a Moody’s Two Aa bond rating. For nearly 10 years, the Mission Mall site has sat dormant. Hopefully, under new city leadership, the Mission Mall site can move forward.
  • Safe communities are attractive to home buyers. I am adamant about creating a culture of safety in our communities. Prairie Village is nationally recognized by Movoto as the safest place in Kansas and by Safe Choice Security News as the 2nd safest place to live in Kansas. While improving, Mission has experienced a higher rate of property and violent crime.