Mandi Hunter, Robert Roberge enter race for at-large seat on Shawnee Mission board, triggering primary

There will be a primary in the race for the at-large seat on the Shawnee Mission School Board that’s been occupied by Cindy Neighbor since 1997.

Mandi_Hunter_SMSDAttorney Mandi Hunter of Leawood and security systems salesman Robert Roberge of Merriam have in recent days filed paperwork with the Johnson County Election office, joining Neighbor and attorney Heather Ousley as candidates. Under Kansas law, there must be four candidates filed in a school board election for there to be a primary.

Hunter, who filed on Monday, is a 1994 graduate of Shawnee Mission West who now has children at Corinth Elementary. She said that though the district has evolved a great deal since her time in school here, “the board has not evolved with it.”

“[W]e are at a critical juncture as a district,” she said. “We need people on the board who will ask the tough questions, require data-based results, and not be wooed by charismatic speeches. We need a superintendent who will advocate for excellence for our schools, and a board which understands the complex requirements of the Kansas Constitution with regard to state and local funding.”

RobergeHunter’s father, Lou Serrone, has been a member of the Lenexa City Council for many year. Her husband, Brandon Hunter, operates Hunter Family Vision, which has locations in Prairie Village and Leawood. In addition to her work as an attorney focusing on real estate litigation, Hunter has served on Corinth Elementary PTA board as well as the board of the Johnson County Library Foundation.

Roberge, who is finalizing a Masters in Public Administration degree, said he was interested in the position as a way to “provide rational support for what we want to do in the schools.” He filed for the race on Friday.

He has a daughter who will be in fifth grade next year, and said he had a personal stake in ensuring the district’s personnel decisions in the coming years align with the community’s goals.

Roberge is a graduate of Shawnee Mission East and Rockhurst University. He is currently a member of the Prairie Village environmental and recycling committee.

The primary will be held Aug. 1. This year’s general election will be Nov. 7.