Shawnee council appoints Lisa Larson-Bunnell to fill Justin Adrian’s vacant Ward 3 seat

Lisa Larson-Bunnell
Lisa Larson-Bunnell, right, was sworn into office for the vacant Ward 3 seat after the Shawnee council voted 5-2 to appoint her Tuesday evening. Photo courtesy of city of Shawnee

The Shawnee council has appointed Lisa Larson-Bunnell to fill the vacant seat representing Ward 3.

Councilmembers selected Larson-Bunnell in a 5-2 vote during its special council meeting Tuesday. Councilmembers Eric Jenkins and Mike Kemmling cast the dissenting votes. There was no discussion, except to thank all of the candidates for their efforts to seek the appointment.

Larson-Bunnell said she was “very blown away” by her appointment.

“One of the great things about this process is I actually got to know a few of the other candidates; they had us all in the back room and we were all able to talk with each other,” Larson-Bunnell said. “Now that I know who my competition is, I think it’s even more surprising and I’m far more excited that I was able to come out on top.”

Larson-Bunnell was sworn into office immediately following the special council meeting. She said her biggest goal is to come prepared to work every single day.

“With it being an appointed position and not an elected position, it’s very important for me to take this time to build the public trust,” Larson-Bunnell said. “I need to take this time to get to know the city a little bit better, to get to know the issues just a little bit better. I’ve done all the research I can, I’ve prepared as much as I can, but until you are in this position, it’s hard to really know what to expect.”

Larson-Bunnell was one of 16 applicants and now fills the seat of councilmember Justin Adrian, a former Olathe high school teacher who was charged in September with unlawful sexual relations with a student. He resigned from the Shawnee council after the incident came to light.

Adrian’s preliminary hearing in the case is set for 3 p.m. Dec. 7 in Division 19.

‘A very important time for our city and especially western Shawnee’

Lisa Larson-Bunnell
Larson-Bunnell said this is an important time for Shawnee, citing new commercial and residential development and the prospect of a community center.

The council heard from 14 of the 16 applicants last night; two did not attend the meeting. In a brief statement to council, Larson-Bunnell declared she was asking for the appointment because “this is a very important time for our city and especially western Shawnee.”

She cited some of these important aspects of the city’s growth and challenges, including new commercial and residential development and the prospect of a community center, as well as balancing the needs of “underserved populations and aging infrastructure.”

“We need a second passionate voice that will listen to the residents of Ward 3 and be able to balance their interests with the needs of the city as a whole,” Larson-Bunnell. “I will be that engaged and responsive representative. I do not see this role as a stepping stone to higher office; I just want to focus on doing the best job I can for Shawnee.”

Four councilmembers nominated Larson-Bunnell, while three nominated another candidate, Dave Myres, who ran against Adrian in the general election last year. Myres recently became chair of the Johnson County Republican Party.

Larson-Bunnell said she plans to run for the Ward 3 seat in the November 2019 election.

“To my future voters, Ward 3 Shawnee, thank you so much for this opportunity to serve you,” she said. “I will be seeing you, I will be knocking on doors; please answer when I knock. I just look forward to meeting as many of you as I can to build as many relationships with you as I can and to serving you as best I can during my time on the council.”

Whoever wins the November general election next year will be sworn into office to fill the unexpired term until January 2022.