The Jackson County Legislator has typically had one African American member, that will most likely change after this election with the traditionally Black District and strong contenders in District 4, which covers Grandview, almost surely going to Black candidates. However, don’t count the Black candidates out in another four races, nor Frank White in the County Executives competition. The possibilities sound exciting, but it all starts with the primaries on Aug 2. 

The midterm elections are coming up in November 2022, and voters will soon be swarmed with campaign ads, voter registration drives and a hyperfocus on high-profile state and national races. More under the radar, but no less significant to candidates and constituents, are dozens of local offices awaiting the voters’ voices.

Among these is the Jackson County Legislature, with a county executive and all county legislators up for election this year. While Kansas City Council members and the mayor are often known to the public, the role of elected county officials is less understood. So what exactly is the Jackson County Legislature, and what are its members responsible for once elected? And how can voters get information about whom to vote for in the Aug. 2 primary election?

Ten out of twelve Jackson County positions up for election in 2022

All positions in the legislature will be filled this fall in the Nov. 8 Jackson County election. However, two of these positions have no Republican candidates, meaning that whoever wins the Democratic primary in August will run unopposed in November as the de-facto winner. 

This is the case for the 2nd and 4th legislative districts, which cover northeastern and southeastern Kansas City, respectively.

The county sheriff and county prosecutor are not up for election in 2022.

Missouri has open primary elections, meaning voters may choose any party’s ballot at the polls. Voters can only vote in one party’s primary, however. 

Meet the Candidates 

Frank White Jr. the incumbent Jackson County Executive is seeking reelection.  White was first appointed to the position in January 2016 to fill a vacant position.  He successfully ran for the seat during the November 2016 election.  Prior to serving as executive, he represented the 1st District At-Large, having won that seat in 2014.  He is well known also as a historic Royal’s baseball player.  

A Democrat, White is being opposed in the primary by Atty. Stacy Lake. Lake is a lawyer, small business owner, former Chinese translator and a graduate of University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law running for Jackson County Executive on the Democratic side. 

The winner of the Democratic primary may have some tough competition.  In the list of three Republicans competing for this position in the August primary includes Theresa Cass Galvin, the current 6th District legislator.  Elected to the County Legislature in 2014, Galvin is currently the Vice Chairman of the Legislature. Her colleagues nominated her for this role for a second time, as well as Chairman in 2019 and 2020,

The first district is a core Kansas City, Missouri district layed out in a horseshoe s around the county’s 2nd district, which constitutes most of Kansas City’s Historic Black Community.  From about Meyers on the south, the state line on the East and Troost  (some points Paseo or Holmes) the district goes north to the river, then heads east remaining north of Independent. The district turns south at about Cleveland and follows the 2nd districts east boundary to about 55 St.  However, on it’s southward turn the district spreads to east of 435 all the way to Raytown Road.  

Justice Horn, is one of two competitors vying to unset the Democratic incumbent in the first district legislator.  Horn is a graduate of UMKC and very active in the community.  He’s an activist who serves on the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Community Advisory Board and is vice chair of the KCMO LGBTQ commission.  

Also vying for the seat is Manuel “Manny” Abarca IV. who is currently an elected member of the Kansas City Public Schools Board.  Elected in 2019, Abarca is also an active member of the community serving on numerous non-profit boards of directors.  For the past eight years he has served as deputy district director for U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver working in constituent services and community engagement.  

He holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s from the University of Central Missouri.  

The two are campaigning to unset the incumbent Scott Burnett, who was first elected to the seat in 1998.  A K-State graduate, Burnett is a partner in SGB Communications, Inc., a firm assisting clients with communicating their views to government officials, key opinion leaders, the media, and the general public.

The Democrat who advances from the primary will vye against the loan Republican who has filed for this seat.  

2nd District

The second district covers Kansas City’s historic African-American community with either Troost, Paseo or Holmes.  The southern boundary is primarily Bannister Road, on the east the district goes as far as Raytown Road and on the North Independent.  

This seat is currently held by Ronald Finley, who is choosing to retire after his third non-consecutive term in the County Legislature.  He also served a term on the Kansas City Council.    There are three Democrats vying for his seat.  There is not a Republican candidate, so the winner of the Aug. 2 primary is pretty much guaranteed the seat.  

Mitchell W. Sudduth, mounted an unsuccessful bid for the 5th District City Council seat in 2019. He is a digital consultant for small and medium sized businesses. He is also the owner of Show Me Down Entertainment Group. 

Venessa Huskey, is a senior admin assistant in the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department of the City of Kansas City, Mo. She’s an elected precinct committee woman for the 23rd ward.  

Lorenzo Johnson is the final candidate.  We were unable to find any additional information about Mr. Johnson.   

3rd District

The third district is a northern district east of 435, north of I70, with the Jackson County line as its northern boundary.  The districts furthest east boundary is Hwy 7. The district includes Independence

Charlie Franklin, who was elected to the legislature in 2018 is running unopposed.  Franklin is a Certified Public Accountant and a Licenses Atty in the State of Missouri.  

4th District

Just like the 1st district wraps around the northern end of the 2nd District, this District wraps around the southern end of the district.  The district includes Grandview.  

The incumbent Dan Tarwater III, who has held this seat since 1994 is not running for reelection opening up this seat for a brand-new legislator.  Two Democrats are vying for the position and since noone else has filed for the seat from another party, the winner of the Aug. 2 primary is the likely winner of the November election.  

Vying for the seat are two experienced elected officials. Daron McGee currently serves as president of the school board for the Hickman Mills School District. McGee was elected to two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, He has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri. 

Michael Ricardo Brown earned his Bachelor’s degree from UNKC.  He was elected to the Missouri legislature in 2009 and 2012.  Earlier this year he ran fro a seat on the Metropolitan Community College Board of Trustees District 6 and loss by just 38 votes.

Both of these candidates are very active members of the community.    

5th District 

District 5 covers the eastern and northern most part of the county.  This largely rural district includes Buckner and Blue Springs and bumps up to District 3 on its western border. The southern border is Colbern Road 

The incumbent Jeanie Lauer was first elected to the legislature in 2018.  A Republican, she is running unopposed in the primary and general.  She owns a mediation and strategic planning business.  

6th District 

The 6th District covers the southeast portion of the county and includes Lee’s Summit.  

The incumbent Theresa Cass Galvin, a Republican, is not seeking reelection, instead she’s running for the County Executive position.  Four Republicans are competing for her seat.  There is one Democrat in this race, Amanda Toomey who identifies as a mom, fundraiser and volunteer. 

!st District At Large 

The 1st District At Large overlaps District 3 and District 5 

The incumbent, Jalen Anderson, is a Democrat and does not have a primary.  Two Republicans are running Brenda Allen and Bill E. Kidd. 

2nd District At Large 

The 2nd District AT Large overlaps District 2 and District 4  

Second District at Large legislature Crystal Williams was first elected in 2010.  She is not seeking reelection.  Vying for her seat are three Democrats and 1 Republican.  

The Democrats vying for her seat are Zac Sweets, Donna Peyton and Ryan Meyer.  

Zac Sweets graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in political science and government.  He’s put that degree working in government and politics. He’s worked on the staff of elected officials, as the Director of Public Policy for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and currently director of government relation for Evergy.  

Donna Peyton was elected to the Raytown School Board in 2021.  She currently works as asst. to the senior pastor and project director at Macedonia Baptist Church, KCMO.  She is working on her Master’s in Divinity.  

Ryan Meyer is a strong Democrat having worked in both state and national campaigns.  He’s also a union supporter and has formed Hard Enough, Inc and the Divided We Beg initiative to push pro-union reform.  

Stephanie Burton is a Republican candidate running unopposed. She’s a rare Black Republican and an attorney.  If elected she would be the only female attorney elected to a Jackson County government position other than the prosecutor.

3rd District At-Large

The third district At-Large includes the 4th and the 6th Districts.

Tony Miller, Lee’s Summit, is currently the third district at-large Legislator, and was elected to the Jackson County Legislature in 2014. An attorney, he graduated from UMKC.  He has two Democratic competitors in the August primary.  

Megan Marshall, Lee’s Summit, served 20 years in the United States Marine Corps. In 2020, she was elected to the Lee’s Summit Board of Education. Marshall is the Vice President of Lee’s Summit Cares a nonprofit community coalition working to build a healthy and safe community for children, youth and families. 

Delmira Quarles, Is a nonprofit organizer who ran for an at-large seat on the City Council of Kansas City in 2011. 

Lance Dillenschneider is the lone Republican candidate. 

The Jackson County legislature’s duties

One of the primary tasks of the Jackson County Legislature is to pass the yearly budget, said former Kansas City Manager Robert Collins. Since leaving his role in City Hall, Collins has taught local government classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is vice president of Collins Noteis & Associates, a firm that assists in urban planning and government projects.

Through the budget, which in 2022 amounts to $452.8 million, the legislature is able to exert some control over what the county departments do. For example, legislators have allotted $4.4 million in funding for a new county jail, and they have approved where it will be built and by whom.

The county executive, who is up for reelection this fall, leads the legislature and appoints an administrator who oversees the county departments. There are about two dozen departments, including the sheriff’s office, parks and recreation, public works and corrections. A key department is assessments, which sets property valuations in the county and determines what owners will be billed in annual property taxes.

The current county executive is Frank White Jr., who is running for reelection.

Jackson County runs the third largest county parks system in the country, with an operations budget of about $26 million. The Department of Corrections is another large recipient of county funds — its budget is $32 million. The county also funds improvements like road maintenance, which will cost about $8 million in 2022.

Simone Garza was a reporter in our Kansas City office. In addition to general reporting on Kansas City’s African-American community, she reports on economic inclusion for the African American community....