Candidates seek positions on KCKCC board in Tuesday’s election

Candidates for the KCKCC Board of Trustees include, front row, left to right, Leslie Smith, Linda Hoskins Sutton, Evelyn Criswell, back row, left to right, Christal Watson, Janice McIntyre and Tom Earp. They were at a candidate forum Oct. 18 at KCKCC. (Staff photo)

Seven candidates are on the ballot for regular terms on the Kansas City Kansas Community College Board of Trustees.

Candidates include Evelyn Criswell, Thomas G. Earp, Colton J. Gibson, Linda Hoskins Sutton, Janice L. McIntyre, Leslie Smith and Christal Watson. Voters will choose three of the candidates on Nov. 7. None is an incumbent.

At the Oct. 18 candidate forum at KCKCC, Criswell said she had 20 years of business and finance success, expertise and advocacy in key programming, competitive positioning, sustainability, fundraising, financial stewardship and aligning the college with community priorities.

She said the key programs at the college needed to be increased and improved to align with employer needs, particularly in technology, biomed and health care information technology. She said she would ensure the students, community and college played a major role in those technical pipelines. She said she would ensure the college continues its research on best practices for KCKCC compared with other community colleges.

On sustainability, she said she would work with the board and foundation to build out a private donor and alumni database to put a program in place and support it. She foresees a full-fledged program raising several million dollars.

Linda Hoskins Sutton said she is qualified because she retired from the college after 30 years of service in financial services, continuing education and community services, student services and adjunct faculty. She said she could use her expertise and knowledge to serve the college.

“Being on the inside, I could bring a different perspective to the Board of Trustees that could help all of the trustees,” she said.

She said students are her priority, and all decisions made should consider how they would affect the students.

She said she wants the college, the Wyandotte County school districts and community to collaborate and see how they can improve the college readiness of children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Until that is done, they will not realize their potential.

Hoskins Sutton has lived in Wyandotte County for 37 years, and has been a member of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and is a past board member of the Greater Kansas City People to People International. She has received an associate of business degree from a community college in Mississippi and a business administration degree from Baker University.

Leslie Smith said she attended the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools and lived here all her life. She has worked with young adults and senior citizens. She said she has a passion to help others in the community by listening to their concerns.

Smith said she would like to promote the importance of education, rejuvenate the atmosphere of social programs and increase student participation.

Listening to students would have a positive effect, encouraging and empowering the students, she said. Promoting and building relationships with students would be a primary concern of hers, she said.

She added she would like to improve the academic achievement for students.

Tom Earp, who formerly owned two retail businesses here, originally came from Independence, Mo. He graduated from Pittsburg State University and has lived here since the 1960s.

He formerly ran for city council here. He is a former member of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, working there for seven years. Earp said the campus police are short-handed.

“The community college – we have a gem here, a diamond,” Earp said. “I don’t think it’s been fully utilized.”

He said he supports looking at the child care center at the college, to be reopened. He also said dorms may need to be expanded for out-of-state athletes.

He also said he would like to see credits from the community college transfer to all four-year colleges in the state.

Janice L. McIntyre retired from KCKCC after 33 years. She ran classes and programs for first-semester students, plus college career development work.

McIntyre, who has a doctorate degree in adult education, curriculum and instruction, served on a number of boards for professional organizations that had done research for college success, and how to get students organized.

“My plank is for student success first, student support services and community connections,” McIntyre said.

After retirement, McIntyre came back to KCKCC as a yoga instructor at the Wellness and Fitness Center. She also helped with student career planning and the World of Work Week. McIntyre helped to found the American Association of University Women chapter at KCKCC. She also has written grants and done fundraising.

She is currently teaching at the KCKCC Leavenworth campus and at Harmon High School.

McIntyre said she knows how to make successful programs, how to promote and support people who are in the positions to help students. She said as a board member, she will know how to advocate for students in an organizational structure that will make everyone successful.

Christal Watson, the president and CEO of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce, said she knows what it takes to be creative, resourceful, to have a background and experience that enables people to reach specific markets. She said the top thing she does in her job is to build partnerships.

“I will be able to advocate on behalf of the college, build bridges with government, local government, state government and federal government,” she said. She also will be able to build bridges with the community, the neighborhood groups, and with the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools. She is a former Kansas City, Kansas, school board member.

She said it was nice to be noticed at the recent meet-and-greet from the KCKCC Student Senate as “Alan’s mom, B.J.’s mom and Neil’s mom.”

“They can relate to me because of who my children are, but I can relate to them because I have children who are almost grown and I know what it is like for them to be in college,” Watson said. As a former student at KCKCC, it’s like coming home, she added.

She said she has experience in public policy that boards handle, and it is important that board members work together, are cohesive and are on the same page. With changes coming and the new board having three new board members, it will allow a fresh perspective on how to build the mission of the college in a way that not only builds students, but also builds community, she said.

Colton J. Gibson was not at this forum Oct. 18.

Two incumbents who were appointed, Rosalyn K. Brown and Tyrone Garner, are also on the ballot, running for unexpired terms on the KCKCC Board of Trustees. They do not have opposition. Voters may vote for two persons in the unexpired terms category.

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

For information on voting, see the website,, or voters may call the election office at 913-573-8500.

For past stories about the election, go to the Wyandotte Daily’s Election 17 pages,

More issues were discussed at the candidate forum, which is online at

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