Voters Guide

Jackson County Legislature: Crystal Williams faces two challengers for 2nd District at-large seat

Four years ago, Crystal Williams unseated veteran Jackson County legislator Henry Rizzo in a tough Democratic primary battle for the 2nd District at-large seat on the Jackson County Legislature.

She’s not exactly sweating this time around it as she faces two challengers in her re-election bid.

First, no one but a Democrat has ever won a countywide vote to serve on the Legislature.

Secondly, Republican Robert Stringfield and Libertarian Cisse Spragins haven’t called much attention to themselves or their ideas in this campaign.

Neither has a website or reported any campaign contributions, whereas Williams has been actively running on her record.

Her website lists a number of accomplishments, including passing an ordinance that made the county’s finances more open to public scrutiny and another one that keeps payday loan shops from clustering in areas and driving down property values.

Stringfield is a former county legislator who ran as a Democrat in 2002 for the 1st District at-large seat and served one term.

He often clashed with colleagues over finance and policy issues and still considers that skepticism a key strength.

But tempers sometimes flared. Stringfield scuffled with Legislator Dan Tarwater at the close of one 2006 meeting. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Stringfield and recommended that he be charged with assault, but no charge was filed.

He chose not to see re-election that year and made an unsuccessful bid to become Jackson County executive.

He is running for Williams’ seat, in part, to fight what he sees as cronyism at the courthouse.

“I am running again because someone has to keep the county in check,” he said.

Spragins, too, would like to take a look at county spending and find ways to keep it in check, although she hasn’t studied the budget in detail.

As a Libertarian, she said there are some things government should stay out of and opposes the war on drugs, which would put her at odds with some of the spending associated with the county’s anti-drug tax known as Combat.

Also, as a businesswoman, she would bring a different perspective to government than Williams, who has spent much of her career working as an advocate for nonprofit groups.

“She hasn’t ever had what I call a real job in the private sector,” Spragins said.

In an interview, Williams countered that she worked on the family farm growing up, has held management positions at Swope Health Services and other organizations, and other than her one-term on the Legislature has never taken a government paycheck.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738, or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

DEMOCRATCrystal Williams

Age: 52

Address: 3633 Charlotte St., Kansas City

Occupation: Policy and communications consulting

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Columbia College

Previous public service: Jackson County legislator since 2010

Website: crystalforthecounty.com

REPUBLICANRobert Stringfield

Age: 66

Address: 3610 Gladstone Blvd., Kansas City

Occupation: Retired command sergeant major, U.S. Army; retired production manager, Alcatel-Lucent

Education: Bachelor’s in political science and mini MBA, University of Kansas; paralegal training, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Previous public service: Former Jackson County legislator, Kansas City school board member; treasurer, Bi-State Commission

Website: None

LIBERTARIANCisse Spragins

Age: 51

Address: 3425 Gladstone Blvd., Kansas City

Occupation: CEO of Rockwell Labs, a manufacturer of pest control and cleaning products

Education: Bachelor’s in chemistry, University of Tennessee; master’s in chemistry and physics, Ph.D. in plasma physics, University of Wisconsin

Previous public service: None

Website: None

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