Elections

After recent controversies, these Johnson County races are packed with candidates

JCCC president’s candid remarks about student body ended up on Twitter

Johnson County Community College President Joe Sopcich faces ire from students and faculty after a DNC committeman live-tweeted remarks he purportedly made about the socioeconomic status of his student body.
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Johnson County Community College President Joe Sopcich faces ire from students and faculty after a DNC committeman live-tweeted remarks he purportedly made about the socioeconomic status of his student body.

After a school year riddled with controversy, 11 candidates are vying for three open positions on the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees.

It’s one of several municipal and school races in Johnson County’s primary election Aug. 6. Advance voting began on Monday.

In the JCCC race, the primary will narrow the field to six, who will compete for the three at-large seats in the November general election.

JCCC President Joe Sopcich announced this month he will step down at the end of the coming school year. Sopcich was embroiled in controversy earlier this year after remarks he made about rising tuition costs were overheard and posted on Twitter.

“Show me anyone who struggles at JCCC.. I walk the parking lot and I see a whole lot of very nice cars,” the tweet read.

A JCCC spokesman said Sopcich is leaving simply because he is “just ready to retire. He is ready for a break.”

Earlier in the school year, over the objections of opponents in the community, the college closed its track program and demolished the outdoor track and field on campus.

Incumbent JCCC trustees Nancy Ingram and Greg Musil are seeking re-election, competing against newcomers Farha Azaz, Mo Azeem, Val Baul, Lori Bell, Colleen Cunningham, Jameia Haines, Cassandra Peters, Chris Roesel and Laura Smith-Everett.

Shawnee has also seen its share of controversy with voters recently rejecting the city’s proposed $38 million community center. Now the city has four primary elections.

Mayor Michelle Distler, running for a second term, will face challengers Stephanie Meyer, Ajay Sood and Dawn Tubbesing.

The Shawnee primary also includes three city council races. Ward 3 candidates: Kurt Knappen, Dawn Rattan and Nick Reed. Ward 3, a two-year unexpired term: Lisa Larson-Bunnell (the incumbent), Greg Sitzmann and Kevin Straub. Ward 4: Jill Chalfie, Kris Durbin and Matt Shaw.

In this and other city and school board races, two candidates will advance to face off in the November general election.

Overland Park City Council: Ward 1: Holly Grummert, incumbent Terry Happer Scheier, and Taryn Jones. Ward 2: incumbent Paul Lyons, Derek Puzzuoli and Roger Tarbutton. Ward 5: Phil Bressler, John Coughlin and incumbent Faris Farassati.

Olathe City Council: Incumbent John Bacon, Alan Marston and Reid Strain are vying for an at-large seat.

Merriam City Council: 1st Ward: John Canterbury, Dennis Miles, Brian Shapley and incumbent Jason Silvers. 4th Ward: Staci Chivetta, Sam Matier and incumbent Bob Pape.

Lenexa City Council: Emily Behrmann, Linda Leeper and Julie Sayers are competing in Ward 4.

Blue Valley school board: Four candidates are running for the south seat, the 3rd District, which runs from 151st to 215th streets between Pflumm and State Line roads. The candidates are Brian Watts, Jodie Dietz, Lester Sibert and Stephanie James.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 6, but they will remain open after close for any voters still in line. A list of polling places and other information can be found on the Johnson County Election Office website, jocoelection.org.

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