A businesswoman and school board member has already filed to challenge Johnson County Commissioner Michael Ashcraft in next November’s election.
LeEtta Felter, who currently serves on the Olathe School Board, said she filed to run the day before the commission voted 4-3 to terminate County Manager Hannes Zacharias’ contract.
“Talk about fortuitous timing,” Felter said in an interview. She said she had thought about running for months, but the handling of the county manager’s ouster gave her even more motivation to run against Ashcraft for the 5th District seat. The 5th District includes the eastern half of Olathe, the southeastern tip of Lenexa and a sliver of the western portion of Overland Park.
Ashcraft voted with the majority to terminate the county manager’s contract as of Dec. 31. Many county employees and residents have objected to the abrupt removal of a manager that they considered to be highly skilled and successful.
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Felter said that, based on what she knows about the circumstances surrounding the vote, she wouldn’t have supported terminating the manager who had so much support. She thought the situation could have been handled differently.
“You don’t fire someone. You give them a chance to resign. It protects the brand,” she said.
Felter and her husband, Jib, have two daughters and two sons, ranging in age from 23 to 16. She has been a very active parent and has served on the Olathe School Board since 2011. Over 20 years, she and her husband also built a truck and equipment dealership into a thriving business that had 260 employees and a presence in five states when they sold it in 2013. They now have a variety of companies.
“We’re serial entrepreneurs,” she said, adding that she has a deep knowledge about good governance and how to avoid government barriers to business. She considers herself a “sensible” Republican who can collaborate with people of diverse viewpoints to bring about progress for the county.
Ashcraft defeated an incumbent to earn his first term as Johnson County commissioner in 2011. He ran unopposed for a second term that began in 2015.
He said it didn’t surprise him that an opponent would challenge his stance and votes on certain county issues.
“I think that debate will be good, and I look forward to it,” he said. “2018 will be an interesting year.”
The election is in November. Current terms for County Chair Ed Eilert, Commissioner Jason Osterhaus and Ron Shaffer are up in early 2019.