Here’s a list of mayoral tenures in some of the county’s largest cities as of early 2014:
• Peggy Dunn, Leawood, 17 years.
• Ron Shaffer, Prairie Village, 15 years.
• Michael Copeland, Olathe, 13 years.
• Michael Boehm, Lenexa, 11 years.
• Jeff Meyers, Shawnee, 10 years.
• Carl Gerlach, Overland Park, nine years.
This kind of stability at the top certainly can be helpful. Elected officials with years of public service often have a good sense of their cities’ top priorities.
But getting new voices at City Hall — people with different takes on the futures of their communities — also can lead to renewed vitality for them.
Later this year, Mission will have a new mayor for the first time in a dozen years. Laura McConwell, the city’s top elected leader since 2002, recently announced she would not run again.
McConwell made an excellent point in part of a statement she issued: “While I would have loved to stay forever (as mayor), we need to encourage new people to step up in our journey. It is time for a new vibrant leader to continue moving Mission’s vision forward.”
It’s notable that many of the mayors listed here have not faced opposition in many of their re-election races.
In the end, voters have the final say. Any challengers to longtime incumbents have to step up and battle the status quo, then convince voters to follow their lead.
If that doesn’t happen, records show mayors in Johnson County certainly are willing to stick around.