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Roeland Park mayor Mike Kelly elected next Johnson County chair

Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly is set to become the next chair of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, succeeding outgoing chair and longtime public servant Ed Eilert.
Shawnee Mission Post
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Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly is set to become the next chair of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, succeeding outgoing chair and longtime public servant Ed Eilert.

The Roeland Park mayor is set to become the next chair of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, defeating current district 6 Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara. The two candidates held widely divergent views on a number of key issues, including election security, property taxes and climate change.

Unofficial final results from the Johnson County Election Office for Tuesday’s general election show Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly set to become the next chair of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, succeeding outgoing chair and longtime public servant Ed Eilert.

Kelly defeated current District 6 Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara in the nonpartisan contest that featured two candidates with widely divergent views on a number of key issues, including election security, property taxes and climate change.

With all precincts’ results in, Kelly was the top vote-getter Tuesday night with 56% of the unofficial final count, amounting to 133,052 total votes.

O’Hara ended the night with roughly 44% of the vote, totaling 102,480 votes as of Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night, Kelly said he was “incredibly humbled” by the results.

In his new seat, Kelly said he wants to bring a sense of focus and respect onto the commission, in addition to trusting the expertise of the county’s employees and forming state and federal partnerships. 

“We really have a unique opportunity to work now to shape our county’s infrastructure for our grandkids instead of just trying to put a bandaid on the infrastructure that our grandparents gave us,” he said. “And with incredible things coming to the metro region like the NFL draft, the World Cup, the development of Bluhawk, hopefully the development of Brookridge and Panasonic and growth out in DeSoto — there’s a lot of exciting growth opportunities for Johnson County, and the time is nigh to get to work.”

What about district seats?

Per Tuesday’s unofficial results, incumbent county commissioners Becky Fast, Janeé Hanzlick and Michael Ashcraft all retained their seats on the board, though one of the races was close.

In District 1, Fast led on Tuesday handily with 64% of the vote, while lending specialist Audra McMahon garnered 36%.

Fast said she is excited to continue the county’s efforts toward mental health access, housing and sustainability.

“Johnson County has spoken, and we’re gonna keep moving forward,” she said. “I will continue to work hard for our residents, but most of all, never quit listening.”

In District 4, Hanzlick held off realtor Maria Holiday by a margin of 51% to 49%.

Hanzlick said she’s looking forward to the county’s continued work on economic development and investment in human services and transit — in addition to having “new eyes” on the commission from Kelly’s new leadership.

“There’s really nothing about Johnson County history that Ed Eilert doesn’t know, and I will miss that,” Hanzlick said. “And at the same time, I look forward to Mike Kelly’s new leadership. Perhaps some new perspectives, new relationships, increasing our regional collaboration and looking at new opportunities for what the county can do.”

In District 5, Ashcraft swept up 64% of the vote compared to challenger Stephanie Berland, a certified public accountant, who totaled 36%.

Bigger picture for Johnson County Commission races

Kelly 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-years in the commission chair seat.

During the campaign, Kelly emphasized tax relief through an expanding economy and smart spending, noting that he cut taxes twice in Roeland Park without cutting back services.

He has also been highly critical of Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden’s use of taxpayer money to fund an investigation of voter fraud in the 2020 and 2021 elections without offering evidence, calling it “extremism” and a “politically motivated stunt.”

This story was originally published on the Shawnee Mission Post.

Lucie Krisman is a reporter for The Shawnee Mission Post.
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