Jackson County government has a new, competent leadership team in place after a whirlwind few weeks at the courthouse.
Members of the County Legislature selected Frank White as the new county executive and Crystal Williams as the new chair of the elected body.
White’s popularity on the field as the Royals’ longtime All-Star second baseman in the 1970s and 1980s translated into political success in later 2014. That’s when he overwhelmingly beat a well-connected fire union official to win a seat on the Legislature.
Barely more than a year later, his colleagues chose White to replace Mike Sanders, who voluntarily stepped down.
Jackson County residents deserve clean, efficient government, and Sanders delivered that for the most part. However, problems with assessments and the county jail marred parts of his two-plus terms in office.
In an upbeat interview Tuesday, White said one of his top priorities is to make sure staff members keep a close eye on resolving the current troubles at the county jail, where guards have been accused of abusing inmates. White also says he’ll make sure the staff works hard to carry out a new strategy for delivering the most accurate estimates for property values in future assessments.
White’s lack of political experience won’t be too much of a liability if he’s able to boost morale at the county courthouse while fending off attempts by any legislators or outside activists to sway county spending.
“I don’t see me engaging in backroom politics,” White pledged, adding that he’s a big believer in “open, transparent” government.
Meanwhile, Williams deserves accolades for being the first woman to serve in the role of the Legislature’s chair. After her initial election in 2010, Williams helped restore trust in county government. She has worked since then to limit the spread of payday loan shops.
Frank White, the first black person to serve as Jackson County executive, will serve through 2016. An election in November will choose someone to serve out the last two years of Sanders’ term.
White’s administration must offer effective basic services when it comes to parks, assessment and the jail. That would give him a good head start on keeping his current post.