Johnson County Community College trustee Angeliina Lawson won’t run for re-election

JCCC Board of Trustees 2020

JCCC Board of JCCC trustee Angeliina Lawson (third from right) announced she will not be running for re-election in order to focus on her work with national Democratic Party organizations. Lawson had a sometimes-rocky term as trustee in which she became the first trustee ever to be censured by the board. Photo credit JCCC.

Johnson County Community College trustee Angeliina Lawson says she will not run for re-election this year.

Lawson is entering the final year of her first term on the board after being elected in 2017. By announcing her intention not to seek a second term now, Lawson said she hopes to provide ample time for new candidates to run.

She also said she has been approached by “national Democratic organizations to further President Biden’s agenda.”

Lawson has long been active in Democratic Party politics, having previously served in positions in both the Johnson County and Kansas Democratic Parties. Although she said her current work with the party is not interfering with her trustee role, she said she felt it was necessary to let JCCC President Andy Bowne know of her decision to not seek re-election now.

“I feel there are really great relationships I’ve built with the administration, with the staff, with faculty and students, that I don’t feel would go away,” Lawson said. “I would be active in a different role — the [JCCC] Foundation, supporting the causes the Foundation has.”

In a letter to the JCCC Board dated Jan. 21, Lawson, who is white, also suggested that by stepping nearly a year before November’s election, she was opening the door for a more diverse pool of candidates to potentially step forward to replace her.

“It is the commitment to have more voices at the table who look like our communities, reflecting the diverse tapestry of our country,” she said in her letter. “I realize that, it is often more difficult for Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color to run for office.”

First trustee to ever be censured

Last February, the JCCC trustee board took the unprecedented step of censuring Lawson for code of conduct violations after she wrote a letter to several state legislators questioning how the college handles its art collection and surplus equipment and suggesting that more state oversight was needed.

At the time, Lawson said the emails she sent were never to be made public, and she asked questions for guidance on processes she said she didn’t understand.

It was the first time the board had ever censured a trustee, and the public rebuke was published on the leadership and governance page of the JCCC website for 60 days after the board’s vote.

Still, Lawson said last week that she feels the board is stronger than ever before.

In her letter to the board, she touted her work to “promote lower property taxes” and her work helping craft a diversity, equity and inclusion policy handbook for JCCC.

In the final year of her term, Lawson said that will remain a priority for her. She told the Post she thinks the board still has much work to do around the issue of diversity.

“That’s what there needs to be: opportunities,” Lawson said. “There needs to be accessibility for that opportunity to run for office and hold a seat so that someone with a different life experience can speak in that dais.”