Shaffer beats McConwell for first district county commission seat; Eilert re-elected chair

Ron Shaffer and wife, Jeannine, celebrate after hearing the final election results.
Ron Shaffer and wife, Jeannine, celebrate after hearing the final election results.

Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer bested long-time Mission Mayor Laura McConwell in the race for the First District County Commission seat Monday. Shaffer won with more than 53 percent of the vote compared to McConwell’s 46 percent.

In the contest for chair of the commission, incumbent Ed Eilert was returned to office with nearly 53 percent of the vote and nearly an 11,000 vote margin over Patricia Lightner. Shaffer replaces First District Commissioner Ed Peterson who challenged Eilert in the primary but finished third.

Shaffer had a more than 2,600-vote margin of the nearly 35,000 votes cast in the election. Shaffer is the longest serving mayor in Prairie Village history, first being elected to the seat in 1999. Prior to becoming mayor, he served on the city council for 10 years. He was elected to a fourth term in April 2011. He will end up leaving his last term early to take the seat on the commission.

McConwell also had a long run as mayor in Mission, taking office in 2002. She did not run for another term earlier this year. McConwell also had served on the Mission City Council before moving into the mayor’s office.

“I think it’s more a sense of trust,” Shaffer said of the election, citing his long leadership in Prairie Village as an influence in the win. “I look forward to the new challenge,” he said.

“I’m proud of our effort,” McConwell said. “I was feeling good about it (up through today).” She focused a lot of effort in Leawood, she said, because gaining votes in Prairie Village was going to be hard. “It is disappointing, though,” she said.

McConwell originally had decided not to run for the commission seat, but then changed her mind. She had pointed to the lack of diversity on the all-male commission during the candidate forums. Shaffer had sent out campaign emails citing differences in debt loads in Prairie Village and Mission.