Voters on Nov. 4 should elect Johnson County Commission members who will find the best ways to provide first-class parks, libraries, transit systems and senior services for 560,000 residents.
The Star’s recommendations in the three contested, nonpartisan races:
County chairman: As he runs for re-election, Ed Eilert is the clear favorite over former state Rep. Patricia Lightner.
Eilert’s longtime tenure as mayor of Overland Park and, more recently, his eight years on the commission have given him excellent insights into the county’s challenges. Eilert is fiscally pragmatic. He has focused on ways to save money without having to make significant cutbacks in services.
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He also realizes it’s time to look at ways to bolster the parks and library systems that many people enjoy.
By contrast, Lightner is pretty much a one-trick politician, known for her conservative fiscal views.
Scrimping on spending did not create Johnson County’s high quality of life. Eilert realizes this, and he is the best bet to improve the county’s future with responsible use of taxpayer funds.
1st District: Laura McConwell and Ron Shaffer are battling to replace commissioner Ed Peterson.
Both are well-qualified for the position. Both have lots of political experience — McConwell as Mission’s mayor and Shaffer as Prairie Village’s mayor. Both also have had extensive community involvement that would serve them well on the commission.
Each fully comprehends the need to revive northeast Johnson County neighborhoods, repair basic infrastructure and maintain strong public safety.
Laura McConwell gets the nod here, because she could bring a different perspective to the currently all-male commission.
With Eilert’s victory over Lightner widely predicted, McConwell would help the commission deal with key concerns to women, wives and mothers in the county.
4th District: Veteran Overland Park City Council member Curt Skoog is the choice over incumbent Jason Osterhaus.
Skoog has a history of working on projects such as the Vision Metcalf plan, which has brought more transit, trails and infill development to Overland Park.
It’s also good to see that Skoog wants to promote regional cooperation, while keeping an eye on how state policies are adversely affecting the county’s budget. Skoog would be a good, thoughtful addition to the commission.