A discussion on whether to replace special elections with an appointment process was tabled Monday after Roeland Park councilmembers agreed they would wait to discuss the topic until after Ward One Councilmember Becky Fast’s soon-to-be empty seat is filled.
Fast is expected to resign from the council following her winning bid for a seat on the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners.
Poppa made the motion to table the item, commenting that the conversation will be “a lot more adult and a lot less emotional” if it is tabled until after the special election for Fast’s seat. Poppa, along with councilors Jen Hill and Erin Thompson, had prompted the initial special elections discussion during a November workshop.
Poppa said he hoped to have a conversation in the future about the pros and the cons of special elections versus the appointment process. Poppa also noted that based on Johnson County Elections Office guidelines it would take 90 days to hold a special election and questioned how Ward One residents would be fully represented during that time.
“Increased resident engagement is a priority to me,” Poppa said.
Mayor Mike Kelly agreed that it made more sense to have the conversation after Fast’s seat had been filled. Fast said she had spoken with the elections office and that they were already preparing for the special election so she expected it to be ready faster than 90 days. Councilmember Tom Madigan cited several special elections that had been held around 70 days after a Roeland Park councilmember had resigned.
Councilmembers Fast, Poppa, Tim Janssen, Claudia McCormack and Jim Kelly voted in favor of tabling the conversation. Councilmember Jen Hill abstained from voting and Councilmember Erin Thompson was absent.
Madigan voted against the motion, saying he didn’t see the purpose in tabling the conversation.