In May 1967, only 8,734 voters bothered to go to the polls to create our crown jewel, Johnson County Community College. That was 14 percent of the 61,000 registered voters. It won approval with 6,413 yes and 2,321 no votes, a resounding 3-1 victory.
That was one of the most significant votes in the history of the county, and yet only a small fraction of the registered voters made it happen.
Now, 48 years later, if recent history is any guide — and based on the projections of Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby — it is likely only about 10 percent of the county’s 366,000 registered voters will cast ballots in the April 7general election to choose, along with many positions in cities and school boards, the top three out of six candidates to serve as JCCC trustees.
(Advance voting in person is underway; and Friday is the last day to request a ballot by mail.)
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It is a critical vote, because the three are part of a seven-member board of trustees whose primary mission is to make certain the high quality and affordability of the community college remains intact.
The three top picks, in my personal opinion, should be the re-election of incumbents Dave Lindstrom and Greg Musil, and the addition of the third in a “slate,” Nancy Ingram. (They are doing joint advertising.)
Their incredible experience in public service catapults them over the rest.
Although Ingram has never held an elected position, she has extensive experience on the Olathe Public Schools Foundation. She has served on the Olathe Junior Service League and attended both Leadership Olathe and Leadership Kansas. She served on the Olathe Planning Commission and was the manager of volunteer services at the Olathe Medical Center.
The latter position gives Ingram a unique breadth of knowledge in how to function within a large institution.
As she told me, “I always want to do things to help other people.” That may sound corny, but her track record bears that out.
Musil, a lawyer, was elected to the JCCC board in 2011. Before that, he served on the Overland Park City Council for eight years, including as its president for two of those years. Musil has served on a host of civic and professional leadership positions, far too many to list.
Lindstrom, perhaps best known as a former defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs, has spent an enormous part of his post-Chiefs life as a successful businessman and a true community leader. Lindstrom served 10 years on the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, and has been a JCCC trustee since 2012. His civic involvement would take pages to list.
Mark Read has thrown his support to Ingram, basically bowing out as a candidate.
Larry Fotovich has come out against workforce training as part of the mission of JCCC. Workforce training is a key component of education at the community college and needs to be expanded, not eliminated.
Patricia Lightner is a divisive individual who is not known for teamwork. The college has many strategic issues that are going to require the board’s working together.
It is critical that Pam Robinson be re-elected to the Blue Valley school board, where she has served for 12 years and is the current president.
Those who know Robinson and have served with her say she is an outstanding board member and is doing all the right things to keep Blue Valley as one of the premier districts in the country.
Robinson’s opponent is Alana Roethle, a candidate who has almost no record of involvement with the district. Roethle is running on a platform of rooting out “inefficiencies.” That’s a code word often used by tea party candidates.
Some fear the tea party is trying to take over the Blue Valley Board, one by one.
There is no more important race in the county than this Blue Valley position.
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