Shawnee City Council plans steps to fill Ward 3 vacancy
The Ward 3 city council seat vacated by Justin Adrian will not remain empty for long.
At its meeting last week, the Shawnee City Council voted to appoint someone to immediately and temporarily fill the position, and hold a special election for the seat next year.
Adrian, who was sworn into the Ward 3 council seat in January, resigned from the council on Sept. 12 shortly before being arrested and charged with having unlawful sexual relations with a student in his classroom at Olathe East High School.
The former history teacher has resigned from his position with the Olathe School District as well.
The council will be accepting applications until Nov. 1 from Ward 3 Shawnee residents wanting to fill the position.
After interviewing candidates, the council will choose a replacement during a special council meeting on Nov. 13.
The appointee will then hold the seat until a special election on Nov. 5, 2019.
If there are more than two candidates, there will be a primary on Aug. 6, 2019.
At its council committee meeting on Oct. 2, the governing body agreed it was imperative to fill the position as soon as possible, so all Shawnee residents would have full representation.
“I think of paramount importance is the 16,000-plus people in Ward 3 who need representation of two councilmembers,” Councilman Jim Neighbors said. “We don’t want to leave that position open for an extended period of time.”
They also agreed it made more sense to hold the special election for the seat in Nov. 2019, rather than any earlier.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Stephanie Meyer told the rest of the governing body she felt it would be unfair to appoint a person to the seat, and then immediately ask them to campaign for an election.
“I would want that person who comes in to get a feel for the lay of the land and what the job looks like before they decide if it’s something they’re truly interested in campaigning for,” she said. “So, I think I would come down on the side of doing an appointment but waiting and having that election fall on my cycle so we don’t have to spend the cost for an election and that person gets a little bit of time to get their feet wet before we go into a campaign.”
At its Oct. 8 meeting, Meyer also suggested changing the date for the council appointment or allowing candidates to interview for the position remotely.
She brought up the ideas because Ward 3 resident Kurt Knappen expressed interest in the position, but he was going to be out of town for most of November.
During a public hearing, he implored the council to allow for a remote interview.
Fellow Ward 3 resident and hopeful candidate Lisa Larson-Bunnell supported his request.
“I work in healthcare and it’s flu season,” she told the council. “We should not be forcing anybody to come here. I would just say I want the pool of candidates for Ward 3 to be as diverse as possible. I want the best candidate possible to be selected.”
The majority of the council, however, felt differently about the remote participation.
Councilman Mickey Sandifer said he worried creating those changes would create problems down the road.
Councilwoman Lindsey Constance pointed out the appointment wasn’t the only opportunity to fill the seat, since there will also be a special election.
“Anyone can still file to run for the seat, either the two year or the four-year seat, so we still have that opportunity—it’s just about filling in the gap,” she said. “So I really feel like anyone is still able to be on the council.”
The city of Shawnee is now accepting applications for the open seat.
Requirements include being a resident of Ward 3 and being a registered voter.
If you’re qualified, please submit a letter of interest via email to City Clerk Stephen Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the following address: City of Shawnee, Attn: City Clerk’s Office, 11110 Johnson Dr., Shawnee, KS, 66203.
The city will accept applications through 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.
At 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, a special city council meeting will be held at Shawnee City Hall so the governing body can consider the appointment of the Ward 3 seat.
The person the council chooses to appoint will be sworn in at the regularly scheduled city council meeting at 7 p.m. the same day.
In Nov. 2019, a special election will be held in conjunction with the general election to permanently fill the Ward 3 council seat.
If you have questions, please contact the city clerk at 913-742-6243.