Prairie Village City Councilor Laura Wassmer is the first to toss her name into the ring as a possible successor to outgoing Mayor Ron Shaffer, who leaves the city Monday after nearly 16 years leading the governing body.
Wassmer, who has represented Ward 4 since 1998, on Thursday filed for the April Prairie Village Mayoral Election with the Johnson County Election Office. As of Friday morning, the Election Office site did not reflect that anyone else has joined the election.
Wassmer said Thursday that she had been considering the move for the past year with the knowledge that Shaffer could be departing for the County Commission.
“I knew that there was going to be a lot of thought about who could step into that role,” she said. “I was having a lot of conversations with council members, staff, residents about if they thought it would be a good idea. And I kept hearing a lot of support.”
Wassmer believes that the upcoming discussions about the redevelopment of Meadowbrook Country Club will be among the most pressing issues to face Shaffer’s successor.
“That is the legacy opportunity, to do something really special there,” she said.
Once Shaffer is sworn on to the County Commission Monday, Prairie Village Council President Ashley Weaver will become interim mayor. The council will have the opportunity to elect a permanent replacement to fill the remainder of Shaffer’s term, but Wassmer said she doesn’t know whether she’ll be lobbying for that role or not. The council may decide, she said, to allow Weaver to fill the role until the election so as not to give any councilor running for mayor in April an unfair edge.
“Ashley is very capable of filling in, and we haven’t had those discussions as a council yet about how we want to approach that,” she said.
Wassmer is the current chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, having taken over for Diana Ewy Sharp after she was defeated in her bid for reelection to the city council in 2012.
Wassmer spent her early career working for Hallmark and then transitioned into the mortgage loan business, where she worked for a subsidiary of Wells Fargo until 2011. Since then, she’s been taking a break from the workforce to “focus on my kids before they were off on their own.” Her youngest child is a senior at SM East this year.