2018 Election primer: Johnson County Board of County Commissioners

Four sitting members of the board of county commissioners are facing challenges.

Voters across Johnson County will have a say in the make up of the Board of County Commissioners with four races on Tuesday’s ballot.

Here’s a look at who’s running for what and where they stand on the issues.

County Chair

Ed Eilert (incumbent)

Education: Eilert received his undergraduate degree as well as his master’s degree in business education from Emporia State University.

Occupation: Eilert started his career as a business teacher at SM East before moving into banking and financial planning.

Elected experience: Eilert started serving on the Overland Park City Council in 1977 and became mayor in 1981. He served in that role through 2005, after which he became the District 4 representative on the Board of County Commissioners. He was elected County Chair in 2010 and reelected in 2014.

Trinette Waldrup

Education: Waldrup received a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and an MBA from the University of Saint Mary.

Occupation: Waldrup has spent the bulk of her career in the insurance industry, and currently works as a network operations senior analyst for Cigna-HealthSpring.

Elected experience: None.

District 1

Ron Shaffer (incumbent)

Education: Shaffer received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Kansas State University.

Occupation: Shaffer runs his own architecture firm, RLS Architects.

Elected experience: Shaffer was first elected to the Prairie Village city council in 1989 and served 10 years before becoming mayor in 1999. He remained mayor until 2015 when he won the race for the District 1 seat on the county commission. This is his first bid for re-election.

Becky Fast

Education: Fast holds a master’s degree in social work and public administration from the University of Kansas

Occupation: Fast started her career as a public policy researcher focused on Medicaid and state-funded senior services. Fast then served as the Director of Constituent Services for Rep. Dennis Moore. She is currently executive director of the Kansas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and an adjunct professor at Washburn University.

Elected experience: Fast was elected to the Roeland Park city council in 2012 and has served as a representative of Ward 1 since.

District 4

Jason Osterhaus (incumbent)

Education: Osterhaus holds a bachelor’s degree from Park University.

Occupation: Following graduation, he spent time working for Sprint and then moved into a number of roles with the  Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas.

Elected experience: Osterhaus was elected to the board of county commissioners in 2011 and reelected in 2015.

Janeé Hanzlick

Education: Hanzlick holds an undergraduate degree from Capital University and a master’s degree in social work from the Catholic University of America.

Occupation: Hanzlick was the president and CEO of SAFEHOME, the largest domestic violence agency in Kansas, for 14 years.

Elected experience: None.

District 5

Michael Ashcraft (incumbent)

Education: Ashcraft holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science from the University of Southern Indiana and a master’s in public administration from the University of Alabama.

Occupation: Ashcraft served in a variety of municipal and state government roles prior to founding his own consulting business, Ashcraft & Associates, in 2008.

Elected experience: Ashcraft was first elected to the county commission in 2011 and reelected in 2015.

LeEtta Felter

Education: Felter holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Southern Nazarene University and an MBA from Baker University.

Occupation: Felter and her husband Jib founded a trucking equipment company in the late 1990s that has grown into what is now called Midwest Truck Sales. The couple sold the company in 2013.

Elected experience: Felter was elected to the Olathe Public Schools board of education in 2011 and has served since.

Issues

Last month we gave the candidates the chance to respond to questionnaires we put together with input from our readers. Links to the posts that have the candidates’ responses to each of our questionnaire items are below.

  • New voting system. In May, the board of county commissioners unanimously approved awarding at $10.5 million contract to ES&S for 2,100 new voting machines. But the debut of the machines was marked by massive wait times after the never-before-fielded combination of hardware and software failed to generate results reports. Did the board make the right decision in awarding the contract to ES&S? Why or why not?
  • County personnel. Late last year, the board of county commissioners voted not to renew the contract of County Manager Hannes Zacharias. Was parting ways with Zacharias the right move for Johnson County? Why or why not?
  • Increasing property valuations. Some areas have seen residential property valuations by the Johnson County Appraiser’s Office shoot sharply upward the past few years, leading to thousands of appeals cases. Are you comfortable with the rate of increased residential valuation in Johnson County? Should the county be taking any steps to mitigate property tax burden on residents?
  • Role of county government. What’s your overall view of the role of county government? Is it fulfilling its mission at present? If not, what needs to change?
  • Biggest challenge facing JoCo. What’s the biggest challenge facing Johnson County today, and what should the county be doing to address it?