Former Lee’s Summit R-7 School District board member and local real estate broker Bill Baird has been elected as the next mayor of Lee’s Summit.
Baird racked up more than 47 percent of the vote Tuesday in easily winning a three-way race to replace Randy Rhoads, who was ineligible to seek reelection due to term limits.
Baird received 4,234 votes compared with 2,599 for Ron Williams and 2,102 for former Mayor Pro Tem Rob Binney. There also were 18 write-in votes among 8.953 ballots cast, according to unofficial results published by the Jackson County Election Board.
During his campaign, Baird promised greater transparency. He also said he isn’t pleased with how the city has used incentives and believes “the approval process needs to be tightened up.”
Among his ambitions during the next four years is attracting e-commerce and health care employers and pursuing a public/private partnership for a convention center.
Baird also plans to make the municipal employee compensation issue, which has dogged the city council for several months — if not, years — a top priority as he takes the reins.
“With my help, we will be accountable to conducting our business with professionalism and live up to the role models we must be for our community,” Baird said in a statement. “We will stay focused on governance, policy making and good stewardship of our taxpayers’ dollars.”
Baird is perhaps best known recently for a public squabble during his time on the school board, which led to former Lee’s Summit R-7 Superintendent David McGehee’s resignation.
Rhoads — who served three terms on the city council beginning in 1998, including a stint as mayor pro tem — was elected in 2010 and reelected in 2014, but candidates for city council and mayor are not allowed to seek a third consecutive term.
Baird is expected to have a bigger influence on city policy because of changes to the city’s charter last year that granted the new mayor a vote on the city council.
During Rhoads’ tenure, the mayor only received a vote if the eight-member council was split and a tie-breaking vote was required to make a decision.