Residents of District 1 and District 4 have new representation on the Johnson County board of county commissioners.
Becky Fast of Roeland Park, Janeé Hanzlick of Overland Park, were sworn in for the first time Monday alongside re-elected incumbents Ed Eilert of Overland Park and Michael Ashcraft of Olathe. The Hon. Thomas Kelly Ryan, Division 17 judge of the 10th Judicial District Court of Kansas, administered the oaths of office.
Fast begins her first four-year term after unseating Ron Shaffer for the District 1 seat. Shaffer of Prairie Village had served one four-year term beginning in 2015. Hanzlick also begins her first four-year term after she unseated Jason Osterhaus to represent District 4. Osterhaus leaves office after serving two four-year terms.
Ed Eilert was sworn into office for his third term as county chairman. He was first elected to that position in November 2010. He had served one term as commissioner for District 4 from 2007 to 2011.
Michael Ashcraft was sworn into office for his third four-year term representing District 5.
Priorities focus on continuing countywide momentum in public health, education, economy
Hanzlick said she hopes to “keep Johnson County moving in the right direction” while also ensuring that every county resident has the same access to quality of life. That means focus on human services, the senior population, people with disabilities and people with mental health issues.
“Johnson County is changing, and we need to bring everyone along in those changes so that it remains the outstanding place that it is for everybody,” Hanzlick said. “We can’t do things the same way and expect that everyone will benefit. We have to be very purposeful in including all people in our county.”
Fast said she also plans to work on solutions that address the county’s “mental health crisis,” citing an increasing suicide rate countywide and the need to continue and strengthen Johnson County’s co-responder program.
“All of the police chiefs in northeast Johnson continually talk about how much time their law enforcement is spending on mental health,” Fast said, “and that is a critical issue because we’re right now, criminalizing mental health because police have nowhere to go.”
Fast also cited changing demographics and an aging population, especially in northeast Johnson County, as factors that need to be considered in terms of helping seniors live and retire in their homes. She also wants to continue preserving green space and addressing runoff drainage issues and the overall environmental impact that comes with a growing population in northeast Johnson County.
Eilert said the commissioners will discuss their priorities at a retreat in a few weeks, during which time they will come together to set the commission’s priorities as a whole.
“Generally, I would say this: As I mentioned in my comments, we have such an outstanding community for many reason,” Eilert said. “But the commission’s attention and focus needs to be on continuing the long tradition of excellent government in Johnson County.”
Ashcraft declined to comment during a reception Monday on priorities for his new term.