By Max Goodwin
All of Jackson County will vote on this at-large race. The seat has been held since 2010 by Crystal Williams and has three Democrats and two Republicans on the primary ballot.
As a recently elected member of the Raytown C-2 Board of Education, Donna Peyton says she is prepared to be a county legislature. She is currently an administrative assistant at Macedonia Baptist Church and is a former administrative assistant for the past Superintendent of the Hickman Mills School district.
She says it’s important for the county legislature to get ahead of the 2023 property tax assessment as the county struggles to find enough workers for its current assessment process. She believes the assessors need to be paid a fair wage.
Peyton noted that the computer system for the county tax assessment is currently being updated. Homeowners over 65 can now pay property tax in quarterly payments rather than once each year.
“I’m actually very proud that the department is showing that they are concerned and are working under the direction of Frank White to improve,” Peyton said.
Peyton says she sees more that can be done to address mental health from the county legislature which would also be a priority for her if elected.
Sweets is the Community Business Manager for Evergy and is the company’s representative on the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce where he is chair of the Government Affairs Committee.
Right now he resides near downtown, but Sweets grew up in Belton. He said that understanding of living in an outer suburb or rural part of the county is the reason he wanted to run for an at-large position with some representation of the entire county.
In his role with Evergy, Sweets says he has had times when he’d been in communication with city leaders about road maintenance and did not see involvement from the county government in those situations.
“With my work experience I have knowledge of how government structures move and I want to just make sure that somebody in that room is looking out for working folks, normal folks and the under-represented,” Sweets said.
For years, Meyer has been involved in community politics around Kansas City. He has wanted to start his political career in county politics for a while and was waiting for the right time.
Property tax assessment is his top priority. He says property assessments were kept low for years only to have the values explode once they were properly assessed. Property owners then owed significantly more in taxes.
“Local government services and tax collection is critically important to establishing trust with the citizenry and government overall,” Meyer said.
A Republican has never won in a county-wide election in Jackson County, but some say this could be the year, and John Murphy is taking a swing at that chance.
With no experience running for political office, Murphy filed for election after feeling frustrated with the property tax assessment process.
“I have never run for anything in my life,” Murphy said. “I was very active in the homes association. We’ve had a lot of problems with home assessments and property taxes especially for the elderly. It seems it’s always kind of a mess with the assessments department one way or another.”
The last time Bob Stringfield was in the Jackson County Legislature he threw punches with 4th District legislator Dan Tarwater.
That was in January of 2006, a low point for Stringfield and the county legislature, but Stringfield admits he came into the legislature with the wrong attitude. He saw himself as a maverick fighting for the taxpayers, but on a committee of nine members it caused some clashes amongst the legislature.
“I don’t have a problem with Dan,” Stringfield said. “That was a long time ago. It was an unfortunate situation that got quite out of hand. I think he’s done a pretty good job after I left.”
Stringfield was a Democrat then and is now a Republican. He changed parties after he saw the Democrat-dominated county government start to lean too far left on taxes.
He argues that the county government is meant to have limited functions and should not do more than assessing property taxes, dealing with the county jail, and supporting the circuit court. “Anything outside of that is just kind of creating jobs for people,” he says.