Shawnee council looking to fill Justin Adrian’s council seat as soon as possible

The Shawnee council committee Tuesday evening decided to recommend moving forward with appointing someone to the vacant Ward 3 seat immediately.

The Shawnee city council decided this week to fill its vacant Ward 3 seat as soon as possible.

The seat has been empty since Justin Adrian resigned Sept. 12 after being placed on administrative leave from his position as a teacher in the Olathe Public Schools. Adrian was arrested on charges of sexual misconduct with an Olathe student Sept. 25. He posted bond and was released from Johnson County Jail Sept. 26.

Adrian is facing a level five felony charge for unlawful sexual relations. He has a no-go preliminary hearing set for Thursday in Johnson County District Court.

Justin Adrian was booked into Johnson County Jail Tuesday.

The council committee’s recommendation Tuesday evening will go to the full council for a vote Monday, Oct. 8. If the council agrees to move forward, it will appoint someone soon, and then there will be an election for that seat in the general election in November 2019.

While the council committee unanimously agreed in a 6-0 vote to fill the vacant seat immediately by appointment, councilmembers differed in opinion on when an election for that appointed seat should take place.

Councilmember Stephanie Meyer said waiting until the general election in November 2019 is better than asking the appointed member to run for office in a stand-alone special election in the spring.

“I feel like it would be somewhat unfair to appoint someone and then immediately ask them to stand for election just because I think there’s a big learning curve with what happens here,” Meyer said to her colleagues at the council committee meeting, “and I would want that person that comes in to get a feel for the lay of the land and what the job looks like, and whether it is something they’re truly interested in and campaigning for.”

Councilmembers Jim Neighbor and Lindsey Constance echoed Meyer’s sentiments. All three have been through the appointment process.

Councilmember Eric Jenkins disagreed, saying he prefers an earlier election process in the spring.

“It doesn’t seem appropriate that this body here is telling the people who are in 3 who’s going to represent them,” Jenkins said. “I’d like to see the person run for office, get elected and be a full-standing member of the council.”

Jenkins made a motion to call for a stand-alone election in the spring; it died without a second.

As to the appointment process, the Ward 3 vacancy will be advertised from Oct. 10 through Nov. 1. The council will then consider the appointment in a special council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13, then the person would be sworn in at later that evening at the council meeting.

A special election for the newly appointed councilmember’s seat would occur in conjunction with the general election in November 2019.

The special election next November would not cost the city extra money, whereas an election in the spring would incur additional costs because it would stand alone.

City attorney Ellis Rainey said the city is considering a mail-in ballot in the spring for Shawnee residents to consider raising the mill levy to fund a new community center. However, state statutes prohibit cities from sending a mail-in ballot to elect a candidate to office, he added.

Councilmember Mike Kemmling was absent.