More familiar faces have made their election intentions known running for office in Lee’s Summit.
This past week, former District 4 city councilman Bob Johnson — a career politician with many years of state, school board, and city service under his belt — announced his aim to re-seek his District 4 seat this coming April.
Johnson was a victim of term limits in 2016 and had to, by city charter rule, sit out an election cycle before his eligibility would return. While he wasn’t in office during the last two years, Johnson would never be accused of being absent from politics for those 730 days.
By all accounts, he was an active participant in front of and behind the scenes in many aspects of politics around Lee’s Summit since leaving office, including openly endorsing a recent tax to support the library system and speaking out in favor of extending the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation’s quarter-cent sales tax in 2016.
Since 1972, Johnson has been involved in the state, local, and R-7 School District political scene. He even tried to ditch the Lee’s Summit City Council for a return trip to Jefferson City in 2014 but was beaten in the Republican primary by Rebecca Roeber, currently the Missouri State Representative for District 34.
Perhaps more comfortable with hyper-local politics, Johnson is back, having kept political watchers guessing for months as to whether he would run for City Council or for the open mayoral position next April.
Another mayoral mystery recently was solved, when current District 1 Councilman Rob Binney declared his intentions during a recent fundraiser to seek the top office in Lee’s Summit.
Binney is in his second term as a District 1 rep, having been most recently reelected in April 2016. If Binney were to win the mayor’s seat, a special election would be held in April 2019 for a one-year term to fill his council vacancy before the four-year term election in 2020.
Binney joins former R-7 School Board member Bill Baird and former Lee’s Summit Councilman Ron Williams — a couple more familiar faces — in announcing an intention to sign up for the mayoral seat when the filing period opens Dec. 12.
Binney’s District 1 colleague, Diane Forte, also said she will seek a second term in April. Forte was first elected in April 2014.
While elected officials often have much in common by the sheer nature of the job, Binney, Forte and Johnson, in particular, have probably earned a bit of combat pay for being in office during some particularly tumultuous times in Lee’s Summit politics.
For that matter, Baird’s time on the Lee’s Summit School Board wasn’t tame, either.
Williams, too, knows the perils of politics well. He’s coined the phrase “slam motions” — an unfortunate act contradictory to good democracy, where council members will try and force in votes on topics not on the agenda or announced prior to the meeting — that went on even during his time on council back in the 1990s and 2000s.
We often refer to this time of year as the “silly season,” but there is frankly nothing silly about hoping — demanding, in fact — that we have the best representation possible at the dais inside City Hall.
So far, all looking to fill those seats are well acquainted with Lee’s Summit politics.
With six weeks until filing begins, more names will assuredly emerge.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.