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Mike Kelly, Charlotte O’Hara advance to general election for Johnson County Commission chair

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Grace Logan, Leah Wankum
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Shawnee Mission Post
Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly, left, and current County Commissioner Charlotte O'Hara advance to face each other in November's general election for county commission chair.

While the Johnson County Commission chair’s office is nonpartisan, Kelly and O’Hara are far apart ideologically on key issues.

Unofficial final results from Tuesday’s primary show Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly and County Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara advancing to face each other in November’s general election for chair of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners.

With all precincts’ results in, Kelly was the top vote-getter Tuesday night with 91,558 votes, or about 41% of the total in the four-person primary field. O’Hara came in second with 62,192 votes, or 28%, of the unofficial final tally.

Coming in third was O’Hara’s commission colleague Shirley Allenbrand with 17%. Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer finished with 14%.

Kelly said the next few months before the general election will be a “head-down sprint” and that he’s grateful and ready to work toward it.

“Tonight’s results, I think, send a clear message heading into November that we’re done with extremist politics and the rhetorical noise that we’ve been hearing in local politics recently,” he said. “I think Johnson County has spoken with a clear voice tonight that we demand better, and frankly we’re up to the challenge."

O’Hara said the upcoming campaign will be about a strong commission that sets policy, and that she’s looking forward to a “vigorous debate” with Kelly.

“I believe the people of Johnson County want a county focused on home ownership,” she said, adding that she expects to talk about that issue as well as tax incentives. “We have an honest difference of opinion. It’s a great opportunity for open dialogue.”

Allenbrand said the loss was a disappointment, but she will continue to work for the residents of District 6 in central and southern Johnson County.

“It’s sad. I was really looking forward to running for chair,” she said. “But it was up to the voters.”

Selzer’s campaign declined to comment Tuesday night.

While the commission chair’s office is nonpartisan, Kelly and O’Hara are far apart ideologically on a number of issues, most notably on the county’s COVID-19 response and their stances on property taxes and spending.

The ultimate winner in November will succeed current chair Ed Eilert, who is retiring after a more than 40-year career as an elected official in Johnson County, including a 12-year stint as commission chair.

District 5 contest: Incumbent District 5 Commissioner Michael Ashcraft was the top vote-getter in a three-way primary for the seat he currently holds, tallying 47% of the primary night vote.

Stephanie Berland will advance to take on Ashcraft in the general election after garnering 30% of the vote and finishing second.

This story was originally published in the Shawnee Mission Post.

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