Voters on Tuesday will begin reshaping the Jackson County Legislature, which will have at least three new members in January.
All nine seats are up for election. Terms are four years. Polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
At least two new faces will come from the county’s at-large races. Former Royals player Frank White and Kansas City firefighter and union leader Sherwood Smith are facing off in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the 1st District at-large The winner faces Republican Weldon Woodward of Levasy in November. All are running to replace Democrat Theresa Garza-Ruiz, who is leaving after two terms.
“I’m a coalition builder. I’m a consensus builder,” Smith said.
Smith is retiring at the end of the year after 36 years as a Kansas City firefighter, 23 of them as a captain. He’s also the political director of Local 42 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Pointing to Smith’s union support, White stressed that has worked in and with unions for years and respects them but will not be beholden to them.
“That’s my only agenda, to serve the community,” he said.
White, of Lee’s Summit, stressed the need to give back to the community.
“I see it as a continuation of the things since I put a uniform on. You put a uniform on, and you become a different person,” he said.
Both candidates said they’d like to see more COMBAT funds – the county’s anti-drug sales tax – spent on preventing and treating drug use. “It’s cheaper in the long run,” Smith said.
White said he’d like to see the county continue to expand some parks programs, such as the tournaments that attract traveling sports teams. Smith said those good idea but that it’s important for the county to focus on fundamentals and make sure revenue is coming in so desired programs can be paid for.
Smith has been active with the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and worked to pass domestic-partner rules in Kansas City and with the county.
“The biggest difference is that I know the work – I know how to do the work,” he said.
Smith pointed out that White is well known and, in this race, well funded.
“We know that we have an uphill battle,” he said.
White agreed that fame from baseball gives him an opening many voters.
“But at the same time, you have to have a message,” he said. “They want to know where you stand.”
• In the 2nd District at-large, Democrat Tony Miller of Lee’s Summit is unopposed in any party. He will replace Democrat Fred Arbanas, who is retiring.
• In the 2nd District at-large, Democrat Crystal Williams of Kansas City is seeking a second term. Her opponent in the primary, Shere Alam of Kansas City, appears not to be actively running. Missouri Ethics Commission records show he shut down his campaign committee from 2012 and has not opened one for this race. He did not return an Examiner phone call. In the fall, Williams faces Republican Robert Stringfield of Kansas City.
“I think we’ve done well – especially considering the economic challenges – things we’ve done with the budget,” Williams said. She said one thing she has done is push through a more transparent process on voting on county spending, especially add-ons to the budget – “That stuff adds up,” she said – and she’d like to see more budget information readily available to the public.
• 3rd District – Sugar Creek and Independence north of Interstate 70, stretching from Interstate 435 to the Little Blue River. Three candidates will meet in November. Democrat Dennis Waits is seeking an eighth term. The challengers are Republican Raymond Wilson and Constitution Party candidate Richard McKie. All three live in Independence.
• 5th District – parts of Independence, plus Buckner, Oak Grove, Grain Valley and Blue Springs. Republican Greg Grounds of Blue Springs is unopposed for a third term.
• 1st District – the west side of Kansas City and downtown, plus the area east to I-435 and angling south and west to include the stadiums and the Blue Ridge Crossing area on the eastern edge of Kansas City. Democrat Scott Burnett of Kansas City is unopposed for another term.
• 2nd District – much of the central, east and south parts of Kansas City, plus Raytown. Ken Bacchus was appointed to fill out the term of James Tindall, who resigned in June. Bacchus serves until the end of the year and is not running. Three Democrats are running: Sterling L. Brown of Raytown, Zachary L. Berkstresser of Kansas City and Alfred B. Jordan of Kansas City.
• 4th District – Grandview and much of south Kansas City. Incumbent Dan Tarwater is being challenged by fellow Democrat Gary Amerine of Kansas City. No one in any other party is running.
• The 6th District – the southeast part of the county, with Lee’s Summit, Lone Jack, Greenwood, Lake Lotawana, the Lakewood area and much of Raytown. Incumbent Bob Spence is being challenged by fellow Republican Theresa Galvin of Kansas City. No one in any other party is running.
• County Executive Mike Sanders, a Democrat from Independence, is seeking a third term, facing Libertarian Richard Tolbert of Kansas City in the fall.