Government & Politics

August 5, 2014

Ed Eilert, Patricia Lightner advance in fight for Johnson County Commission chairman

Former Mission mayor Laura McConwell and Prairie Village mayor Ron Shaffer will face off in the 1st District race. Incumbent Jason Osterhaus and Overland Park councilman Curt Skoog will vie for the 4th District seat.

Ed Eilert and Patricia Lightner on Tuesday advanced to the general election in the race for chairman of the Johnson County Commission.

Eilert, seeking a second term chairing the commission, led the three-person field with 41 percent of the vote. Lightner, a former state lawmaker and Republican congressional candidate, finished second with 38 percent in the unofficial totals.

Finishing last in the nonpartisan race was County Commissioner Ed Peterson, who was more liberally inclined than the two other candidates.

Peterson, a Fairway lawyer who represents the northeastern part of Johnson County on the commission, received 21 percent.

Eilert, a former longtime mayor of Overland Park, heads into the general election well financed compared with Lightner.

He raised $30,000 during the first seven months of the year and had $28,000 in the bank for the general election. Lightner has about $2,500 left after financing most of her campaign so far with loans.

The race for chairing the commission focused on taxes and spending.

Eilert touted the fact that the county pressed forward in tough financial times without cutting core services and without raising property taxes.

Lightner ran for the office promising to stop tax increases and wasteful spending. She pointed to the county’s purchase of the former King Louie bowling alley on Metcalf Avenue as an example of bad spending decisions.

The building has been talked about as home for the Johnson County Museum and other county offices, but commissioners have balked at issuing $10.3 million in bonds for the renovations.

Calling the building “junk,” Lightner has questioned why anyone would have wanted to buy the building.

Peterson, meanwhile, argued there was too much emphasis on not raising taxes. He said the county needed to place a higher priority on keeping the amenities that make the county a quality place to live.

He said development of parks had been delayed and services at libraries had been cut because of dwindling revenues during the recession.

The county, Peterson argued, needed to look at the best way to build those services back up as the population grows.

In the race to replace Peterson in the County Commission’s 1st District, former Mission mayor Laura McConwell and Prairie Village mayor Ron Shaffer will square off in the general election.

Shaffer ran first in the five-person field, winning with 33 percent of the vote. McConwell finished second with 29 percent. Coming in third was Republican activist Rachel Sciolaro, who finished with 17 percent.

Placing fourth was insurance executive Mark Nauser, who loaned his campaign $9,000 and finished with 15 percent of the vote. In last was insurance executive Vincent Alex DiCarlo with 6 percent.

Farther south in the County Commission’s 4th District, covering central parts of Overland Park, incumbent Jason Osterhaus prevailed over two other candidates to advance to the general election.

Osterhaus, seeking a second term, received 50 percent of the vote and will face off with Overland Park councilman Curt Skoog in November. Skoog finished second with 30 percent of the vote. Consultant Mayre Macey Hoffman finished last with 20 percent.

To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to

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