Poppa, Thompson, Janssen win contested Roeland Park City Council seats; vote extremely close in two races

Roeland Park elected three new council members Tuesday and two of those elections were by extremely thin vote margins. The Johnson County Election Office said early Wednesday it had not determined by ward the number of provisional ballots that still may be uncounted.

Michael Poppa
Michael Poppa

The closest race was in Ward 4 where Michael Poppa beat JoAnna Rush by five votes, 289-284. In Ward 3 Erin Thompson defeated Linda Mau by only a slightly wider margin of nine votes, 201-192. The third new member of the council will be Tim Janssen, who beat Blake Morgan Jr. by a more comfortable 131-vote margin, 202-71.

In Ward 4, Poppa will replace current council president Marek Gliniecki who finished third in the primary election. Poppa and Rush had been on opposite sides of last year’s anti-discrimination ordinance debate in Roeland Park. Poppa was an outspoken supporter of the measure while Rush advocated against it.

Erin Thompson
Erin Thompson

Mau also advocated against the ordinance and submitted a repeal petition to the county for legal review. Thompson replaces Megan England in the Ward 3 seat. England, who had defeated Mau twice for the council seat, did not run for re-election. In the primary election, Thompson only finished two votes ahead of Mau.

Janssen replaces Jennifer Gunby on the council. Gunby also did not seek re-election. Gunby and England were the primary sponsors of the anti-discrimination ordinance.

Tim Janssen
Tim Janssen

The election results represent a split between the dueling endorsements in the election by the MainStream Coalition PAC and the Kansans For Life PAC, both of which had done mailers in the election. MainStream had endorsed Poppa, Thompson and Morgan while KFL had endorsed Rush, Mau and Janssen.

“I am grateful for the broad range of support in Ward 4. I am excited for the opportunity to represent all my neighbors on city council,” Poppa said after the election.

Janssen said he overwhelmingly heard concerns from residents about high property taxes and the anticipated departure of Walmart from the city. “I had great support from across the ward and enjoyed speaking to the residents as I went door to door. I would like to thank Blake for running a respectable campaign,” Janssen said.

The fourth Roeland Park seat on the ballot Tuesday was in Ward 1 where incumbent Becky Fast was unopposed. Roeland Park had two special council elections in 2014 to fill unexpired terms. That means that five of the eight council seats have new members in less than a year.

Tuesday’s results represent unofficial final returns. The vote is not official until the canvassing board meets next Monday. At that time any provisional ballots will be reviewed. Provisional ballots can include those where a registration is in question or records show the voter had been sent an advance ballot. Provisional ballots are sealed in envelopes at the polls and must be verified before being counted.

In Mission Hills city council voting, incumbent Dan Sullivan was the odd-man-out in a four-way race for three council seats. Sullivan finished 19 votes behind newcomer Braden Perry. Incumbent David Dickey led the field with 509 votes. Beverly Brooks finished second with 442. Perry and Sullivan finished with 385 and 366 respectively. Lisa Creighton Hendricks did not run for reelection and will not return to the governing body.

In Fairway, James Poplinger, Gail Gregory, Bill Griffith and J.D. Fair were elected to the council in uncontested races. In Merriam, Robert Weems, Al Frisby, Nancy Hupp and Bob Pape were unopposed.  In Mission Woods, Robert Tietze was unopposed for mayor and Cory Fisher, Darrell Franklin, John Baenisch, Joan Ruff and William Dunn Jr. were unopposed for council. In Westwood Hills, Paula Schwach returned as mayor unopposed and Ludwig Villasi, John Weedman, Rosemary Podrebarac and Gailen Stockwell were unopposed for council seats.

And 1,391 Prairie Village residents cast ballots for Laura Wassmer, the already-sworn-in mayor who was unopposed on Tuesday’s ballot.