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Fred Arbanas is almost certain he won’t run for another term in the Jackson County Legislature

Updated: 2014-02-26T05:44:40Z

By MIKE HENDRICKS

The Kansas City Star

On the first day candidates could file to get their names on the 2014 ballot, longtime Jackson County legislator Fred Arbanas wasn’t among those submitting papers at the courthouse.

After more than 41 years as a county legislator, the former Kansas City Chiefs tight end said he is 98 percent sure that he won’t run again due to physical limitations.

He blames the toll on his body that led to the end of his playing career in 1970 after the Chiefs’ one and only Super Bowl win. After two hip replacements, shoulder replacement surgery and other repairs, Arbanas finds it difficult to get around these days.

“I still enjoy being a county legislator,” he said. “I enjoyed football too, but I had to give that up too when I couldn’t run anymore.”

Last year, his colleagues in county government honored him for his dedication and longevity. No one has served longer on the county’s governing body.

Arbanas, 75, was an the original member of the Legislature when it convened for the first time in 1973. Previously, county government was run by presiding judges.

Last year, Arbanas said that despite his bad legs, he was sure to seek another four-year term.

“My head’s OK and my heart’s OK,” he said. “As long as those parts of my body are OK, I’m going to keep running.”

But since then, politics have also stepped in. Should Arbanas decide to run, he would face a well-funded competitor in the Democratic primary for the 3rd District at-large seat.

It wouldn’t be the first time. Arbanas defeated a tough competitor in former Kansas City councilman Terry Riley four years ago.

But Lee’s Summit lawyer Tony Miller seems determined to win the seat. With $172,500 in his campaign fund at last count, according to records on file with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Miller is far better financed than Riley was. This year there is no record of Arbanas having even formed a campaign committee.

Democrat Theresa Garza Ruiz also said she is certain she won’t run for re-election to her 1st District at-large seat after serving two terms. She said she is about 90 percent sure she will run for the Kansas City Council next year.

A retired firefighter, Sherwood L. Smith of Kansas City, filed Tuesday to fill her seat as a Democrat.

County Executive Mike Sanders and the seven other members of the Legislature filed for re-election as well. The only one with a primary opponent so far is Dan Tarwater, a Democrat in the 4th District. The opponent, Gary Amerine, a retired ad salesman from Kansas City, also filed.

The last day to file is March 25.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738 or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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