Johnson County incumbents hang onto seats in primary — but one just barely

The two incumbents on the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees came out ahead in Tuesday’s primary election, advancing in the most competitive and crowded race in the county.

Of the 11 trustee candidates, Greg Musil led with 17.9% of the vote, while fellow incumbent Nancy Ingram received 16.5%. They’ll both appear on the ballot in the general election on Nov. 5, vying for three seats along with these newcomers: Jameia Haines, who earned 11.9% of the vote, Laura Smith-Everett (11.3%), Lori Bell (8.4%) and Colleen Cunningham (7.8%).

They defeated Farha Azaz (7.7%), Val Baul (5.5%), Cassandra Peters (4.7%), Chris Roesel (4.3%) and Mo Azeem (4%).

Most incumbents in city and school races across the county were the top vote-getters. But Tuesday’s results signal a difficult race for one Overland Park council member.

In Overland Park’s 1st Ward, newcomer Holly Grummert won nearly 53% of the vote, while incumbent Terry Happer Scheier received 27.8%. They’ll both appear on the ballot in November, after defeating Taryn Jones, who got 19.3%.

Overall, 8% of Johnson County’s 414,329 registered voters cast ballots in the primary.

The Johnson County Community College race has been the most heated. The crowded field came after a contentious school year, which included the announcement that JCCC President Joe Sopcich will step down. The new board will be tasked with hiring a new president and addressing concerns about the college’s transparency.

Earlier this year, Sopcich was overheard commenting on the college’s tuition, which had been raised $1, to $94 a credit hour. Such controversies have focused the race on college affordability, transparency and enrollment. A recent survey showed many staff and faculty members lack trust in the college’s leadership.

“We need to discuss issues openly and civilly. I think we’ve done that fairly well on the board, but I’ll continue to make it an emphasis,” said Musil, who’s running for his third four-year term. “We don’t talk enough about issues. We duck and dodge them. It seems silly we can’t have an honest discussion about tuition and what it means.”

Both incumbents, Musil and Ingram, said their highest priority if re-elected will be appointing a president who will make an impact.

“This is a real opportunity for us,” Ingram said. “There have been criticisms of the board, transparency being one of them. We have the opportunity to make sure we go forward doing the best we can.”

Shawnee’s primary race also follows some controversy in the past year, including voters overwhelmingly rejecting a $38 million bond issue to construct a new community center. The primary included the mayor and three city council races.

Mayor: Incumbent Michelle Distler, 57.2%, and Stephanie Meyer, 25.8%, defeated Dawn Tubbesing, 15%, and Ajay Sood, 1.9%.

Ward 3: Kurt Knappen, 47.4%, and Dawn Rattan, 35.9%, defeated Nick Reed, 16.7%.

Ward 3, a two-year unexpired term: Kevin Straub, 46.4%, and incumbent Lisa Larson-Bunnell, 43.5%, defeated Greg Sitzmann, 10.1%.

Ward 4: Jill Chalfie, 50.5%, and Kris Durbin, 31.4%, defeated Matt Shaw, 18.2%.

Other results:

Overland Park City Council:

Ward 1: Holly Grummert, 53% and incumbent Terry Happer Scheier, 27.8%, defeated Taryn Jones, 19.3%.

Ward 2: Incumbent Paul Lyons, 59.6%, and Roger Tarbutton, 25.7%, defeated Derek Puzzuoli, 14.7%.

Ward 5: Incumbent Faris Farassati, 48%, and Phil Bressler, 41.7%, defeated John Coughlin, 10.3%.

Olathe City Council:

At-large incumbent John Bacon, 46.4%, and Alan Marston, 45.6%, defeated Reid Strain, 8%.

Merriam City Council:

1st Ward: Incumbent Jason Silvers, 31%, and John Canterbury, 27.4%, defeated Brian Shapley, 24.2%, and Dennis Miles, 17.4%.

4th Ward: Incumbent Bob Pape, 40%, and Staci Chivetta, 34%, defeated Sam Matier, 26%.

Lenexa City Council:

Ward 4: Julie Sayers, 42.4%, and Linda Leeper, 35.2%, defeated Emily Behrmann, 22.4%.

Blue Valley school board:

South seat: Jodie Dietz, 43.5%, and Stephanie James, 33%, defeated Brian Watts, 19.5%, and Lester Sibert, 3.9%.

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Sarah Ritter covers Johnson County for The Kansas City Star. Formerly a reporter for the Quad-City Times, Sarah is a graduate of Augustana College.