Five to vie for two Independence school board seats

Mike Genet
The Examiner

Five candidates will run for the two open seats on the Independence School District Board of Education in April’s election. 

It will be the first contested election since 2016, as Independence board members serve six-year terms and in 2018 and 2020 the number of candidates equaled the number of open seats. The candidates on the ballot this year include both incumbents, a recently retired district employee, a local chiropractor and a local pastor, who, if elected, would be the board's first person of color.  

Fort Osage and Grain Valley also have highly contested school board elections for two open seats in April.  

In Independence, both Jill Esry and Matt Mallinson are district alums and seek a third term after they were elected in 2010 and 2016. Mallinson had been appointed to the board in 2009 to fill a vacancy. They will be challenged by Greg Gilliam, Anthony Mondaine and Jason Vollmecke. 

Gilliam retired last year after 31 years with school district, and his last position had been human resources supervisor and the district's compliance officer. 

Mondaine was part of the first graduating Van Horn High School class in the Independence School District. He is an assistant bank manager and also pastor of Restoration Life Church in Independence. If elected, he would be the first Black person on the school board. 

Vollmecke is an Independence native and runs a local chiropractor business. 

In Fort Osage, Sharon Dankenbring and Tim Brown are running for re-election and will be challenged by Kyle Leeds, Dustin Schnakenberg, Jennifer Rogers, Kress Chambers and Christian Elston. Dankenbring has been on the board since 1992, while Brown seeks a third three-year term. 

In Grain Valley, incumbents Michael Hackett and Julie Groff filed for re-election. They will be contested by April Claphan, Jeffrey Porter and Jason Williams. Grain Valley board members serve three-years terms.