A Recap of the April 6th election (yes, there was one)
By Tyler Schneider
On April 6th, over 10 percent of Kansas City and Jackson County registered voters turned out at the polls to decide local tax policy and to elect a number of school board candidates for districts citywide. In Grandview, more was at stake with voters choosing the mayor and two aldermen to make decisions on their behalf. April’s municipal races generally have a low voter turnout. If you didn’t vote or haven’t caught up on your local results yet, here is a summary of results for each of The Telegraph’s current coverage areas.
Earnings Tax Ballot Issue
Voters overwhelmingly approved a five-year extension of the city’s earnings tax — a one-percent tax on any individual who works anywhere in city limits — renewing a tax that brings in roughly $270 million annually with 77 percent (29,426) approval to 8,658 (23%) of naysayers.
The sum from this tax is primarily spent on basic city services, such as first responders, snow removal, trash pickup, pensions for city workers, and, allegedly, for pothole repairs. The tax has been in effect in some form since the 1960s.
Grandview School District Ballot Issue
57 percent, or 1,770 Grandview voters, ultimately approved the tax levy increase for the Grandview School District while 43% (1,329) voted against it.
2,220 (71%) of those voters unified to pass GO Bonds for the district to overrule 887 (29%) who weren’t so keen on the idea.
Incumbent Leonard D. Jones Jr. will retain his office for two more years after winning a three-way Grandview mayoral race with just under 72 percent of the vote (1,422 total) over challengers John Boyd Jr. (24%, 470 votes) and Kaele Bybee (4%, 85). There were just five write-in votes cast.
Going off 2019 figures — when Grandview had 25,069 residents — the turnout for the citywide mayoral race was around 12.7 percent, notably higher than KCMO’s April 6 voter turnout of just under 11 percent. Jones Jr. has served as mayor since 2014.
Ward 2 (two-year term):
In the contest for a full two-year term Ward 2 Alderman seat, Dan Hartman defended his title with 51 percent (302 votes) to deflect a hard charge made by Hickman Mills School Board Vice President Irene C. Kendrick (39%, 230).
Mark Bybee finished third with 58 votes for a ten percent share, ahead of a pair of write-in votes.
Ward 2 (partial, one-year term):
The hottest contest in Grandview this voting season came down to a mere four votes as former city alderman and state representative Joe Runions snagged a partial, one-year term with 290 votes over Bud Day’s 286.
Day had lost this seat to Annette Turnbaugh — now representing District 37 in the state house — by 32 votes in June of 2020. There were three write-in ballots cast.
School Board Elections
KCPS School Board Sub-District 5:
A rather balanced race for the KCPS School Board Sub-District 5 seat was called for Kandace Buckner (51 percent, 1,813 votes) over Bruce Beatty (49%, 1,765).
Buckner is a former elementary school teacher and instructional designer with the KC Teacher Residency who will have a child entering the district in the fall.
Her campaign emphasized issues such as retaining students rather than seeing them leave for neighboring districts such as Center, Grandview and Hickman Mills, by working closer with charter schools (but not expanding them or using vouchers) and developing equity in student achievement rather than chasing full-accreditation status full bore.
KCPS School Board At-Large:
One of the more notable city-wide races worth watching was for the KCPS School Board At-Large seat, from which newcomer Tanesha Ford, would emerge with 8,319 votes (56 percent) to upset incumbent Patricia Mansur’s 6,446 (44%).
Ford, a mother of two and a 16-year veteran in education, is the executive director of the Kauffman Scholars. Though she opposes voucher programs, Ford’s plans to focus on pursuing the means to regain full-accreditation ahead of mounting any substantial pushback against the charter system.
Mansur has been on the board since 2013 and served as board chair since 2019 in addition to working as the director of Health Policy and Communications for the REACH Foundation.
Hickman Mills School Board
A pair of three-year terms were up for grabs on the Hickman Mills C-1 Board of Directors when voters hit the polls April 6.
The first was snatched handily by the lone incumbent of the five active candidates, Carol Graves, a six-year veteran of the board who took 30 percent of the overall vote with 1,243 cast in favor of retaining her service.
Capturing the other spot with 990 votes (24 percent) was Ann E. Coleman, an educator who supports accreditation, has voiced skepticism in the efficacy of virtual learning and would like to see the district retain its top educators.
Ebony Osby, a parent of three children in the district, netted 711 votes (17%) for third, followed by veteran Ron Pearson (14%, 580 votes).
Former board vice president Clifford Ragan III — who helped facilitate the hiring of current superintendent Yaw Obeng — finished with 11 percent of the vote (452).
Despite dropping out of the race in December, John Charles Carmichael wound up with a circumstantially strong turnout of 117 supporters for a three percent share.
The board will meet for reorganization on April 22, from 6 to 7 p.m.
Center School Board
Bryce Shields ran away with his 2021 bid for Center School District Board of Directors with 1,211 votes for a 31 percent share. Shields had most recently been the fourth place finisher in the June 2, 2020 race for three seats, earning 10.5 percent of the vote at the time.
Shields will now join his former opponents, Amy Carr (28.7% in 2020), Danielle Quinn (23.8%) and Sam Cook (18.2%) as he looks to focus on issues such as post-secondary preparedness and seeking universal pre-k in his first three-year term on the board.
A tight race for the second available board membership saw an upset from former Center School District teacher, Kathleen Ramel (954 votes, 24%) over the incumbent board vice president, Rebecca Lahann (912 votes, 23%).
Further muddying the waters was Julie Kramschuster, wife of former three-year board member, Paul Kramschuster, who came up just 28 votes short of Lahann with a 22 percent share.
The Center school board will hold a reorganizational meeting on April 12, followed by its first regular session meeting with Shields and Ramel included on Monday, April 26.
Grandview School Board
A 15-year member of the Grandview Consolidated School District No. 4 Board of Education as well as its incumbent president, Leonard C. Greene was a pretty safe bet on paper going into his April 6 quest for another three-year term.
While Greene earned 1,672 nods of approval for 38 percent of the vote, the other incumbent in the race, Charles “Chuck” Cornforth, would be ousted by a considerable margin by Kara Wardlow (37%, 1,628).
Wardlow has two children in the Grandview school system and is married to Jeremy Wardlow, a coach and teacher in the district. She ran a campaign centered around her experience in the corporate education sphere — plus her view that she could bring a fresh perspective to the seven member board.
Cornforth, a transportation veteran and Grandview High School graduate, found himself outside of the bubble with 770 votes or 18 percent for third. He had been a member of the board since December 2016.
Andrew Rexroat, who may or may not have led an active campaign, managed to capture 297 votes (7%).
The board’s first meeting with an updated roster is scheduled for April 15 at 6:30 p.m.