Army official files for Ward 3 City Council seat
A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army has filed for election to a Ward 3 Shawnee City Council seat, setting up the first race in this year’s municipal elections.
Jeff King, a 24-year military veteran who resides at 4736 Grove St., filed for the seat on Jan. 2. Jeff Vaught, the Ward 3 incumbent whose term expires this year, filed for re-election on Dec. 3.
Four City Council positions, one for each council ward, will be on the April 2 general election ballot, and a Feb. 26 primary election will be held if more than two candidates for any position file before the noon Jan. 22 deadline.
Michelle Distler filed for re-election to her Ward 4 seat on Dec. 11. The other two incumbents, Dan Pflumm in Ward 1 and Alan Willoughby in Ward 2, have not yet filed but have indicated they plan to do so.
Vaught, currently the City Council president, resides at 4405 Grove St., about three blocks away from his challenger. But King said his candidacy had nothing to do with Vaught’s record.
“To me, it’s kind of a continuation of other things I’ve done in my life,” King said.
King, 47, currently works as the protection team chief at the Center For Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth. In that role, he is in charge of analyzing and improving operations in the areas of engineering, military policing, chemicals, force protection and safety, he said. He also has been a public works director, among other military roles. And he has been a homeowners association director in Atlanta.
King, who has lived in Shawnee’s Greenview Ridge Estates subdivision for 17 months, said he is nearing retirement. And after having lived in a half dozen countries and five different states across this country over the past 24 years, he is eager to put his knowledge and passion to serve to work for his new hometown, he said.
“It’s kind of the next step, to represent the people in my area and be part of of my local community,” said King, who attended the University of Kansas and, while growing up, split time between Kansas and Atlanta.
According to King, he has been researching recent Shawnee City Council actions in preparation for his campaign. But he said he was not familiar with the recent issues involving the Crimson Ridge subdivision, which is home to Vaught and city activist Tony Lauer.
Lauer and other residents of Crimson Ridge urged the City Council to take a more active role on their behalf last year, after learning that the 40-acre open space in their neighborhood had been sold to a for-profit company, Habitat Kansas LLC.
The residents’ concerns focused generally on Habitat Kansas LLC’s plan to restore creek channels in the open space so it could sell stream mitigation credits to developers.
Specifically, many in the 307-lot subdivision objected to the news that, if a federal stream mitigation bank were created in Crimson Ridge, they would no longer be able to set foot on the open space once pitched to them as park land.
Pete Heaven, an attorney representing Habitat Kansas LLC and Crimson Ridge’s developer, advised homeowners abutting the open space last April that they must remove landscaping and other “encroachments” from the land — and stop trespassing on it.
The issue has been dormant since Habitat Kansas LLC recently withdrew its federal application for creation of the stream mitigation bank.