by Mary Rupert
Perhaps the friendliest candidates in the Wyandotte County elections this fall are running for the Kansas City Kansas Community College Board of Trustees.
A high level of civility, with no accusations, no raised voices and no jabs taken at other candidates characterized a Tuesday evening candidate forum at KCKCC.
After giving speeches, the candidates met individually with those who attended the event.
Incumbents Don Ash, Rosalyn Brown and Ray Daniels are joined by three candidates, Patricia Brune, Jammie Johnson and Paul Jones, who are running for four seats on the Board of Trustees.
A primary was not required for this contest; the general election is Nov. 5. Tuesday, Oct. 15, is the last day to register to vote for the general election. Advanced voting by mail begins Oct. 16, and early voting in person opens Oct. 26.
Elected in 2015, besides the late Mary Ann Flunder, were Don Ash, with more than 5,900 votes, Ray Daniels with more than 5,700 votes, and the late Clyde Townsend, with more than 5,800 votes.
In 2017, Rosalyn Brown received more than 11,000 votes to fill the unexpired term of the late Mary Ann Flunder.
Ash, also the Wyandotte County sheriff, is serving his third term and 12th year on the KCKCC Board of Trustees.
Ash said he was a huge champion of education and higher education.
Ash also said he would not have been able to do many of the things he did in his career without the foundation of education he received at KCKCC, when he was a student there.
A graduate of Washington High School, Ash has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Kansas City Kansas Community College and a bachelor’s degree in management of human relations from Mid-America Nazarene University. He began his career at the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department in 1972 and retired from there in 2006, then became sheriff.
Appointed in 2016 to the Board of Trustees after the death of Mary Ann Flunder, Brown then was elected in 2017 to the remainder of the term.
Brown was employed by the Unified Government for 33 years, worked in housing and development for 25 years and in the mayor’s office for eight years.
She favors development of student academic skills as well as life skills that will help students think critically, act responsibly and be caring members of society.
The board has taken an innovative approach, with a desire to create a culture of excellence, for KCKCC to pursue expanding resources and services throughout the community, she said.
Patricia Brune, who worked for 31 years in the federal court system in Missouri, is also a past president of the Kansas City, Kansas, Women’s Chamber, past president of Leadership 2000, and served six years on the KCKCC Advancement Council.
She said she is an advocate of servant leadership, and believes in leaving an organization better than you found it.
She stated she would like to make sure KCKCC is doing everything it can to protect the hopes and dreams of students and faculty.
Also, she is in favor of protecting the interest of the tax-paying community to make sure funds are spent well.
She said the community receives a good return on its investment, last year the college generated over $180 million for the community, and for every dollar it puts in, the community receives $1.30 back.
Dr. Ray Daniels, who worked 40 years for the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools including four years as superintendent, said when he retired he was still interested in education in Wyandotte County.
He has now served more than 12 years on the KCKCC Board of Trustees.
“There’s a lot of needs, a lot of potential, and a lot of challenges in Wyandotte County,” Dr. Daniels said. “This college provides those opportunities for people to have a successful life.”
The opportunities at KCKCC help provide people with a quality life, good families and good quality jobs.
Jammie Johnson, who works at the University of Kansas as a graduate adviser in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said she moved here with her family as a child in the 1960s to help desegregate the schools.
She attended Chelsea Elementary, William Allen White, West Middle School and Schlagle High School.
She has a bachelor’s degree in communication theory and human relations from Park University and a master’s in student personnel administration from the University of Central Missouri.
She has worked at a community college, a four-year private institution and four-year public university. She serves on committees at KU, including a staff professional development committee.
She also is involved, in her own time, in youth work with her church here, and also is a Girl Scout leader, with her troop in the Douglas, Caruthers, Parker, Quindaro and Northwest schools.
“I want to serve my community in a way I am passionate about,” Johnson said. “I am concerned about the future of our youth, and the sustainability of our community, because we all know that our community is only as successful as our young people.”
She said she is committed to supporting initiatives that educate the community, make college affordable, prepare students for the work force, attract and retain diverse students, faculty and staff, and encourages efficiency and transparency.
Paul Jones, who is retired from the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department, said, “I’m very passionate about my community.”
“This is the first time I ever ran for anything; I just ran track,” Jones told the audience.
He attended Bryant Elementary, Northwest and Wyandotte High School. He had the choice to go to KCKCC but went to Cloud County Community College instead, then to the University of Arkansas on a track scholarship. He qualified for the 1980 Olympic team, but the Olympics was boycotted that year. He received an education degree.
He taught for two years here, then he went to work for the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department and retired after 30 years as battalion chief. Currently he is working at the University of Kansas as a fleet manager for the safety department. During his years with the Fire Department, he was a substitute teacher on his off days, for about 30 years, he said.
He said he was raised by a single mother who instilled in him “giving back, education, loving what you do, and always do your best.”
“I’ve always tried to instill that in the people I’ve mentored, coached, as well as my son,” he said. “I want everybody to know about KCKCC,” Jones said. “I have a great passion for KCK,” he said, adding he was also passionate about KCKCC and about all students getting their education.
More information is available in a video of the candidate forum online at https://vimeo.com/361896353?fbclid=IwAR1Eoy_McG84DCfBcNeHKwpWJr2DikAmZQ9PkWB2SiWJK-mUqM8iWTnG2Qo.
To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.