March 18, 2023
After just two short months in office as your Jackson County Legislator, I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned with the folks in my community. I’ve been an active “political follower” for many decades, so I thought I understood what was going on when I saw leaders making decisions – those I liked and those I didn’t.
What I’ve learned since serving these past two months is that what the public sees and “knows” through the media or investing the time in watching government meetings is often only a tiny fraction of what is happening. Hard-working, well-intentioned efforts may not be accurately portrayed and the complexity of government doesn’t make good headlines or interesting reading. Social media, rumor and out-right misinformation results in an electorate that is unlikely to be excited by anything elected officials are doing. Because of this challenge, I now believe that candidate character must be a primary deciding factor when I choose who I will vote for in future elections
I serve as one of nine members on this legislative body and my campaign was self-funded; I am not politically indebted to anyone. I have no aspiration to run for any higher office, my current choices are not muddled by future campaign consequences. Before I make decisions, I do my best to truly understand the consequences behind them. Sometimes it means interpreting what county rules and legislative actions mean, other times a hands-on approach in understanding county issues is required. This mindset recently brought me to take a short drive to a potential landfill site in our area.
I was opposed to this landfill location and introduced a resolution to the County Legislature, thinking my colleagues would agree on an easy decision. I was confident that this simple piece of legislation would sail through unanimously. Surrounding municipalities had passed similar measures and we had a duty of trust to protect Longview Lake, operated by the County. We heard some quick testimony that the landfill had a creek that ran nearby and fed water into Longview Lake.
The landfill site was also near Summit Pointe Elementary School. Many of my colleagues served on school boards before they were recently elected to the County Legislature. I know these are people who care deeply about education and our children. Finally, the Legislature saw a substantial outpouring of email, calls, and personal appearances to testify before our committee. Allowing them time to learn and hear from the public resulted in a vote of 8-1. We passed the resolution opposing the landfill! The COMMUNITY carried the day by showing the power that a group of united people can bring and I was blessed to witness and be a part of it. But only a handful of individuals really saw all that it took to get that great result – much of the work took place behind the scenes.
Because so much “behind the scenes” action takes place I believe the key to improving our community is to assess the character of those who we elect to positions of responsibility. School board elections are quickly approaching. As a resident of Lee’s Summit, I’ve had the opportunity to review each candidates background. I’ve spent time reviewing their statements made in articles and in many cases I’ve met them in-person. While all seven candidates seem bright and motivated, I truly believe there are three who will not be restricted by past political alliances, outside persuasion, or future aspirations. The perplexing inquires and frustrations that have come in my first few months as a legislator have brought me to the decision that I will not follow the typical run-of-the-mill political advice. I’m stepping outside of the norm and endorsing candidates that I believe will do the best job in this position.
In the April 4th Election, I will be voting for David Grady – because he is forthright, has demonstrated he wants to help young people become successful adults including those who pursue trades, not just 4 year degrees.
I will be voting for William Peterson – because the integrity and commitment demonstrated by his military service and the passion he shows for LSR7’s success as a father of three small children.
Lastly, I will be voting for Regina Garrett who brings a heart that is full of caring for children and our community, a champion in making good decisions despite hard challenges.
All three of these candidates have a level of independence to represent us, form policy that will raise the quality of our schools and put the focus of our education system on the success of our children.
Sean E Smith
Jackson County Legislator – 6th District
Lee’s Summit Resident and Father of Three Thriving Young Adult graduates