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Write-Ins Compete For KC School Board Seats

As Kansas City School District voters go to polls today to elect new school board members, they'll be part of an historic effort to preserve local control of the system.It is an uncommon situation for candidates in a crucial time for the District.

The Missouri Education Commissioner is watching the degree of local interest, even passion, to elect board members as the unaccredited District is struggling to keep its identity and local elected control.

Missouri legislators have some of the same interest with legislation proposing removing the board and appointing one. And the Kansas City Mayor has his own plan for appointing District operators.

Journalist Joe Robertson  has been closely following all this as education writer for the Kansas City Star.

"Anything that would change the governance system of the school district would require some legislative action, a very complicated voter petition process. I mean, the likelihood right now is that this board that gets seated after this election will be governing the school district here at this very critical time. So it is an important election," Robertson said.

On the ballot there are only two names of candidates who went through the signature collection petition process, but there are another dozen campaigning with varying degrees of rigor. You will have to know who they are to write in their names.

Don't expect to wake up tomorrow morning knowing the winners, except perhaps in the First Sub District where candidates are listed by name on the ballot.

Robertson says election officials  have said it may take a week or more to tally the write-ins, and that's only an estimate.

"Kansas City Election Board is saying they've never had this situation, where you have predominately write-in votes. And that includes the at-large race for Airick Leonard West's seat where they're counting votes from across the whole district for that one. So it'll be interesting how long that will take," he said.

Current School Board Chair West got into the race as a write-in about two weeks ago joining a field of four others including the Reverend Sam Mann, Jerry Sargent, Lyne't C. Smith and H. Lon Swearingen. Write-ins are also the only candidates in the 3rd and 5th Sub Districts.

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