The race to hold the most powerful elected position in Johnson County government is getting crowded, and that’s potentially a good thing for voters.
Three candidates so far have announced their intentions to serve as County Commission chairman.
They are current chairman Ed Eilert, commission member Ed Peterson and former state Rep. Patricia Lightner.
Assuming all three formally file, the county must hold a primary in August to narrow the field to two candidates for the November general election.
That also occurred in 2010, when the primary slimmed a four-person field to two candidates: Eilert and then-chairman Annabeth Surbaugh.
All three announced candidates this year are veteran politicians. That should help voters when they seek information about how each of the three could lead the county.
Eilert was a longtime mayor of Overland Park; he was elected to the County Commission in 2006 before being elected chair in 2010.
Peterson served as Fairway’s mayor for a decade and is a three-term commissioner.
Lightner, from Olathe, served in the Kansas House for three terms.
The candidates will need to focus on how the county can continue providing first-class services that residents expect, even as tax revenues hold steady or, in some cases, are reduced by state actions.
In particular, the candidates should make it clear how they intend to improve the county’s acclaimed parks and library systems, which have suffered from recent budget restrictions.