The old political adage goes that incumbency is one of the most powerful predictors of success in an election.
Just don’t try telling that to elected officials in Roeland Park.
Several northeast Johnson County cities have turned out incumbent officeholders in recent years, but Roeland Park has a recent history full of examples of voters kicking members of the governing body out of their seats.
Last week, sitting Roeland Park City Council President Marek Gliniecki became the latest casualty in the list of incumbents not returning to office. What is slightly different about the history of incumbency in Roeland Park is how it has affected the mayor’s position as well as its city councilors over recent years.
When Joel Marquardt was elected mayor in 2013, he ousted then-mayor Adrienne Foster who served only one term. Foster finished a distant third in the 2013 primary to both Marquardt and Linda Mau, who is on the ballot again for a city council seat in 2015. Foster had, in turn, come from a council spot to beat one-term mayor Steve Petrehn in 2009. Councilor Scott Gregory also was on the ballot for mayor that year. Petrehn had run unopposed for mayor in 2005 as had Lori Hirons in 2001, succeeding Joan Wendel.
Mau, who lost that 2013 mayor’s race, was on the council from 2003 to 2007, after running unsuccessfully in 1997. She was turned out of office by Megan England in 2007. Mau lost again to England in 2011.
Gliniecki first made it onto the council in 2009, winning a special election over three opponents, including former mayor Petrehn. In 2011, Gliniecki won a full term by beating former council member Linda Fell who had served years earlier. Petrehn, before becoming mayor, had held the Ward 4 seat, defeating incumbent Ed Macan in 2003.
Gregory, who made the attempt at mayor in 2009, was a longtime councilor who lost his seat in 2011 to Jennifer Gunby. Gunby, who did not seek re-election this year, had lost two council races to Robert Meyers before getting her spot on the council.
The only incumbent left on the Roeland Park ballot in the April election is now Becky Fast who is running unopposed.