With two candidates filing for the seat in recent weeks, there will be a contested election for a Ward 2 seat on the Shawnee council.
Incumbent Eric Jenkins faces challenger Andy Rondon. Jenkins dubs himself “the fiscally conservative voice” on the council, while Rondon seeks office to get more involved in the city. Both have officially filed their candidacies with the Johnson County Election Office.
Eric Jenkins: Fiscally conservative voice, focus on infrastructure
Jenkins is seeking his second term on the council and hopes to remain a strong voice for more conservative ideas to “protect the taxpayer.” His ward has the least affluent population (Ward 2’s average household income is about half of Ward 3’s). He is concerned raising taxes will push out residents on fixed incomes.
“It shapes my perspective dramatically because they elect me; I am their representative,” he said. “I guess that’s becoming kind of old fashioned, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to represent them and what they want as taxpayers and citizens of the community.”
If re-elected, Jenkins hopes to take a harder stance toward public financing of economic development, including tax increment financing and community improvement districts.
“We’re just giving outs TIFs, CIDs, out the wazoo,” he said, citing two current developments in the city that have public financing: Bellmont Promenade and Westbrooke Green. “It’s just ridiculous; we’re giving away everything.”
Jenkins said he plans to focus on making sure public safety agencies and infrastructure improvement project are well funded. He would like the city to develop a strategic plan that incorporates undeveloped parts of the city. He also opposes the proposed community center, which is up for a vote by Shawnee residents in a mail-in ballot election.
“I’m not in favor of it, not because I don’t like community centers, they’re fine,” he said, “but spending what will be $50-more million over the next 20 years, we could sure use that directed toward our infrastructure, which is failing.”
Jenkins has run twice as a Republican for the District 18 seat in the statehouse. He is a retired colonel after 34 years with the U.S. Army Reserves and also retired after 32 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He has a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University) in Springfield and a master’s degree from University of North Carolina in Charlotte. He lives in Ward 2 with his wife, Anne Jenkins, and two of their grandchildren.
Andy Rondon: Bringing new businesses, sustainability
A resident of Shawnee for the past two years, Rondon is seeking his first elected position.
“This is our first house, and I’ve always wanted to get more involved, and it just never felt right getting involved when I was just a renter,” he said. “Now that we’ve kinda settled down, I want to get involved.”
If elected, Rondon said he plans to focus on bringing new business to Shawnee and continue the revitalization of the downtown area, especially with sustainability in mind.
“It’s kind of exciting, the downtown area, that we’ve got two breweries,” he said. “I think that’s a good start and I’d like to continue to revitalize downtown a bit.
“And anything that we do, I’d like it to be done in a way that promotes sustainability as well.”
Rondon said he would not comment on whether he supports or opposes the proposed community center, but he’s “glad that Shawnee is going to get to vote on it. I think that’s probably the most fair way to do it.”
He plans to listen to all sides and be accessible to his constituents, addressing their concerns as they arise.
“I’ll do what I can to make myself available to them,” he said. “I’ve got an excited mindset for the future and looking to bring that to city government.”
Rondon works in sales for Good Energy Solutions, a solar installation company in Lawrence. He’s a volunteer for the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition. He lives in Ward 2 with his wife, Kellie Rondon.