Each week we provide a member of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners the opportunity to share an update on what issues are catching their attention. This week, we have a column from District 2 Commissioner Jim Allen, whose district includes Lake Quivira, much of Shawnee and part of Lenexa.
After three, four-year terms as the Second District representative on the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election for a fourth term in the upcoming 2020 elections.
As many know, my public service resume includes 19 years on the Shawnee City Council, including 11 years as mayor, before becoming a county commissioner.
After 31 years, I’m not running for an elected office any longer. I just want to start enjoying my retirement. It has been three years since I retired after serving as a State Farm Insurance agent for 37 years.
I assumed my duties as Second District Commissioner in January 2009 and won re-election to two additional four-year terms in 2012 and 2016. During my 12 years on the board, I served as vice chairman five times, most recently filling that role in 2019.
During my 19 years of service in Shawnee City Government, I had the honor of being elected mayor, serving from 1993-2004, and representing Ward 1 on the Shawnee City Council from 1989-1993 and Ward 4 from 1983-1987.
As many know, I’m a Second District native – born and reared in Shawnee where I will continue to live with Julie, my wife of almost 46 years. Our family includes four sons and three grandchildren.
The decision to step aside at this time was not easy, but in the end, it is the right time and right thing to do so that Julie and I can begin the next chapter in our lives. We are truly blessed to have our health, our family and so many, many friends and we look forward to spending more time with them all. We plan to find other ways to continue to serve our community in the future.
In announcing my decision not to seek re-election, I want to thank the constituents of the Second District for allowing me to serve them as their county commissioner.
Over the years, I have enjoyed a good relationship on a regular basis with past and present members of the BOCC and county management, as well as the support and guidance from local government and community leaders as we work together for the common good of Johnson County.
We have a common goal in striving to move toward a better, stronger, more vibrant community for our generation and future generations. It has been a dream come true.
There is nothing more challenging and nothing more rewarding than public service. I’m pleased to have served in a position that allowed me the wonderful opportunity to work with others to pursue our shared vision and ideals for the home we all love.
I also know firsthand the work and dedication of county employees in serving and protecting our residents of Johnson County. They are dedicated and work hard to provide the best services possible. They’re doing the right thing for the right reasons for the county.
Over the years, I took pride that the county has maintained a steady mill levy and that I only had to vote once to raise the property tax. That occurred in 2015 when the BOCC approved an increase of 3.3 mills to support expansions and improvements in the library and parks systems (each involving a 0.75 mill increase), add public transit services and cover an expected shortfall in state revenue for county operations.
The increased mill levy helped to fund the construction and openings of Monticello Library in Shawnee and Lenexa City Center Library along with the openings of Big Bull Creek Park in southwest Johnson County, Lexington Lake Park in De Soto and Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village.
I also supported the acquisition and reconstruction of the iconic King Louie West Lanes bowling alley and ice-skating rink, transforming it into the county’s Arts & Heritage Center in Overland Park and a new location for Johnson County Museum, formerly located in Shawnee.
The Arts & Heritage Center has become quite popular with our residents as a place to participate in community activities and programs. It has become an asset for the entire community, including serving as a new voting site and preserving the history of Johnson County. It was a win-win situation and an enduring legacy for our county and our residents of all ages.
Another challenge that occurred on my watch was supporting passage of a 10-year, quarter-cent public safety sales tax to fund construction of a badly needed, new Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Olathe and building the county’s first-ever medical examiner facility. The special question was approved by voters in November 2016. Both projects are nearing completion with the medical examiner facility scheduled to open in June and the courthouse opening in early 2021 after I leave office.
I have no regrets about no longer serving as an elected official after more than three decades and becoming a full-time retiree.
When it’s time, I plan to walk away from county government with fond memories and great pride in my time as a public servant. It has been a good experience working with good people, serving great people and together making the Johnson County community better.
It’s simply time for me to move on and somebody fresh to move in. My successor will be elected by Second District voters in the General Election on Nov. 3.
I will leave office on Jan. 11, 2021. Until that date, I will continue to proudly serve as Johnson County’s Second District commissioner.