Two social workers are heading to the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners after unseating the District 1 and District 4 incumbents.
With the board of canvassers meeting Thursday to certify the final election results, Becky Fast and Janeé Hanzlick learned they had officially unseated incumbents Ron Shaffer and Jason Osterhaus.
Fast had a narrow by significant lead over Shaffer in the early results released on Election Night. But Hanzlick found herself 22 votes behind County Commission District 4 incumbent Jason Osterhaus out of more than 40,000 votes cast in that first tally. When the Election Office updated its total last Friday to include previously uncounted mail-in ballots, Hanzlick had pulled ahead and was leading Osterhaus by 71 votes. But it wasn’t until the board of county canvassers certified the official final tally Thursday afternoon — adding votes from more than 5,000 provisional ballots — that Hanzlick knew she had won.
The final total put her up 178 votes. But she was prepared for the result to go either way.
“We really didn’t know which way it would go,” she said. “In fact, I wrote two notes to myself: If I win, this is what I want to say, and if I lose, this is what I want to say.”
Social work backgrounds inform priorities
Both Fast and Hanzlick have backgrounds in social work. Fast is currently the executive director of the Kansas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. And Hanzlick recently retired as the director of SAFEHOME, Johnson County’s domestic violence agencies. Both said they intend to bring their experience to bear on the board.
Hanzlick said she read the results as an endorsement to move in “a direction of collaboration, of helping the most vulnerable people and to continue to invest in Johnson County’s economic success.”
“The people of District 4 have indicated that they want Johnson County to continue to go in the right direction of quality services, fair property taxes,” she said. “But they don’t want to go in the direction of cutting taxes and cutting services.”
Fast said improving access to mental health services had been one of the priority issues District 1 residents had identified during her campaign.
“Mental health is one of the reasons I ran. I heard that every day on the doorstep,” she said. “I hope that I can serve as a liaison to the Mental Health Center.”
Fast and Hanzlick will be sworn in in January.
Osterhaus will have completed two full terms on the board when he rolls off in early 2019. He was first elected in 2010. Shaffer served one term on the county commission, having been elected in 2014. Prior to his time on the county commission, Shaffer served on the Prairie Village governing body for more than 25 years, including 16 as mayor. He is the longest-serving mayor in Prairie Village history.