No matter how the elections go this week (and yes, they are over, I understand, I am just writing this before the polls close) we are, perhaps, facing yet another council shake up this fall.
If Councilman Bob Johnson is elected to the Missouri State House seat opening up in District 34, that will force the mayor and city council to appoint someone to fill said seat until a special election is held the following April.
While I am not leaping to the assumption that Johnson will win the election – he has two primary candidates in the Republican race, Justin Kalwei and Rebecca Roeber, both who might claim they are far more “right” than Johnson, not to mention a Democratic challenger come November – the long-time Lee’s Summit councilman does have the name recognition and constant media attention as a current member of the council.
Johnson first was elected to the statehouse in the 70s and has served multiple terms as a representative and senator on the state level. He’s also served on the Lee’s Summit R-7 School Board.
His time in public office far surpasses that of Kalwei or Roeber. And, of course, that tenure could be used in his favor by his supporters or against him by his opponents.
If Johnson survives the Aug. 5 Republican primary, he’ll likely get elected in November in a district that tends to lean toward the right.
If that happens, and even before, expect the political jockeying to begin on who will fill his seat. That person will have a clear advantage in getting elected the following spring and will have had some trial by fire at that point as well.
The learning curve is ever steeper on city council. With business issues, incentives, legal matters and development creeping in to nearly every council discussion, finding the right fit for Johnson’s seat will be as crucial as any election we hold.
The decision will be labeled political, criticized in the beginning and questioned throughout.
This group of elected officials, some of whom will still be fairly new, needs to be ready to bring the right person forward if they are called upon to do it.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lees Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.