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Five on short list for spot on JCCC board

Five of eight applicants have made the short list for a spot on the Johnson County Community College board of Trustees being vacated by Bob Drummond.

The list of applicants returning for a second interview at a special meeting Thursday on the college campus includes a retirement education specialist, pastor, insurance agent and a business executive. Also among the returning applicants is the board member whose spot Drummond was appointed to fill in 2013.

The board will choose Drummond’s successor at the next meeting, and that candidate will then assume a seat on the board July 21 until the term expires in January 2018. The election for that seat will be in 2017.

The finalists are Steven Beru, retirement education specialist, Overland Park; Bobby Love, senior pastor second Baptist Church, Olathe; Henry Sandate, insurance agent, Shawnee; Tony Thill, president CST International and executive vice president Global Storage Sales, Overland Park.

Melody Rayl, an attorney living in Olathe who served on the board from 2008 through 2013, is also on the list. Drummond was appointed to replace Rayl in 2013, when she stepped down shortly into her second term.

The JCCC trustee board is made up of seven members elected at large who govern the college’s budget, policies and tax levy. Members serve four-year overlapping terms, although some terms will be lengthened once the elections move from spring to fall of odd-numbered years, as required by the Kansas Legislature

The application search to replace Drummond illustrates an increasingly common way that new members get their start on the trustee board: through appointment. This year is the fourth time in the past 10 years that the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees has used the appointment process to fill out the unexpired term of a resigning member.

Drummond, a six-year veteran of the board, offered his resignation in February, saying his increasing travels were making it more difficult to keep his commitment to the trustee board. Drummond retired last year as president and CEO of KidsTLC in Olathe and noted that he has spent 25 years in public service with the trustees and as part of the Olathe school board.

Appointments have become commonplace at the JCCC trustee board. Drummond was appointed to replace Rayl, who was herself an appointee in 2008. Don Weiss resigned his seat in 2012 and it, too, was filled by appointment.

Rayl said she stepped down about a month into her term in 2013 to improve her work/family balance. Rayl, who had been chairman of the board during the search and transition to replace retiring JCCC president Terry Calaway, said she wanted to be able to spend more time with her two oldest children, who were finishing high school.

Although Rayl got her first position on the board through appointment, she won a contested election in 2009 when five people were vying for four at-large board seats. She won again in 2013, but resigned about a month after her second term began.

Drummond also was elected in 2009, but lost in the next election to Lee Cross. He was appointed to replace Rayl after she stepped down.

Rayl said she saw the vacancy as a good opportunity to get involved again with the college. She has one 12-year-old daughter left at home, she said, and does not expect her upcoming school years to be as demanding as the pre-college preparations were for her older kids.

Although mid-term replacements on other governing bodies have sometimes been controversial — most notably in Shawnee — JCCC board Chairman Greg Musil said that hasn’t been the case for the more low-profile trustees. The appointment process makes the most sense when a board member steps down with a substantial amount of time yet to serve, he said.

“The only other way is to have an exorbitantly expensive special election,” he said.

Trustees are county-wide offices, meaning ballots would have to be mailed or polling places opened everywhere in the county so any registered voters could weigh in, he said. Such an election would be a “foolish expenditure of funds,” he said.

Musil added that the board might not have the authority on its own to call a county-wide special election.

Leaving the position open until the next election also is problematic when there are still months to go and big decisions to be made, he said. A trustee election would get far less attention in an even-numbered year when the partisan political races are run, he added.

The replacement process is open and public, he said, and has in the past produced good results for board representation.

The interview of finalists will be at 4 p.m. Thursday in the High Speer Board Room, 137 GEB on the college campus.

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