Lee’s Summit City Council incumbents aren’t going to cruise back into their seat — not this year, at least.
After more than a decade of race after uncontested race, all four districts have a two-way battle lined up for the April 3 election. For the mayoral seat, it’s a three-way race — a first since current mayor Randy Rhoads took on incumbent Karen Messerli and Robert Dye in 2010 — an election that saw Rhoads unseat a popular incumbent.
Rhoads was ultimately reelected unopposed in 2014, but he’s hit his term limit now in 2018.
With two races in District 4 on the ballot, this is shaping up to be one of the most significant Lee’s Summit government elections in recent memory.
In that district, an open seat — Dave Mosby is term-limited — features longtime politician Bob Johnson and Donna Gordon, the founder and president of Lee’s Summit-based Investment Resources.
This seat, for a four-year term, is accompanied by another District 4 race for a two-year term that features current council member Fred DeMoro, a former member of the Planning Commission and the Charter Review Commission, and Casey Crawford, an attorney who also was one of 10 who threw their names in the hat to fill the District 4 spot after the recall of councilman Chris Moreno in 2017.
Crawford was impressive during the barrage of candidate speeches last year in front of council and was widely regarded as a citizen we might see again in the public spotlight.
Other races also feature political newcomers, with Jose “Beto” Lopez tossing his name in the ring to take on District 3 incumbent Diane Seif, and John Elkin filing against current District 2 councilman Trish Carlyle.
In District 1, Diane Forte finds herself running, again, against Robert Dye, in a rematch from 2014 that Forte won handily more than two to one.
Forte, Carlyle and Seif have been through a few years of tumult and turmoil. DeMoro has seen much of the chaos from the committee level and Johnson, with decades of political years behind him, has navigated the waters of city hall during times of war and peace.
At the mayoral position, current District 1 council member Rob Binney filed on the final day to oppose previously announced candidates Ron Williams, a former councilman and Charter Review Commissioner, and Bill Baird, a former member of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School Board.
The increase in candidates this election may signal a political switch, in which more residents are daring to be active and engaged in the community. It will be, of course, up to the voters to determine if each has the requisite experience and expertise to handle a very public and very scrutinized job.
Through candidate forums sponsored by the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce and individual groups like Foundations for our Future, voters should have ample opportunity to get to know the candidates who will be charged with shaping the future of Lee’s Summit.
As always, choose wisely.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.