JCCC filings include former lawmaker
By Caroline Boyer
A former Shawnee legislator is returning to politics as a candidate in this spring’s race for Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees.
Stephanie Sharp has thrown her name in among nine other candidates for four positions on the board up for election April 7. The former 17th District representative from Lenexa filed Monday for the seat, saying she wanted to get back into public service without a commute to Topeka.
“As a key member of the bi-partisan education coalitions that crafted solutions to fund Kansas K-12 schools and increase local control for Johnson County, I am excited to continue the quest for quality schools in the higher education arena right here at home,” Sharp said in a release.
The filing deadline for the race was noon Tuesday. A slate of 10 candidates will run for the seats currently held by Shirley Brown VanArsdale, board chair, and Melody Rayl and Benjamin B. Hodge, as well as a newly-created seventh seat on the board. In addition to Sharp, candidates are John Kanaga of Shawnee; Olathe residents Robert Drummond, Miguel Morales and Rayl; and Overland Park residents Jerry Cook, Hodge, Peter Jouras Jr., John Papazafiropoulos and David Weeks.
The race is at-large for the nonpartisan seats with a four-year term and is decided by all voters in the county, who will select up to four of the seven candidates.
Sharp served the 17th District for three terms, retiring in 2008 to pursue full-time employment and start a family. The district includes portions of Lenexa and south-central Shawnee.
Sharp is employed as the public relations officer at CommunityAmerica Credit Union where she handles media and chamber relationships, corporate philanthropy and the sponsor relationship with the Kansas City T-Bones. She graduated magna cum laude from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., with degrees in international politics and French. She also graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with a master’s in international affairs.
Sharp is active in the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, and volunteers for various community charities including Junior Achievement and Children’s Miracle Network.
Jouras, 48, is an attorney who has never run for office, though he has served on the board of directors for the Johnson County Bar Foundation. He has been an adjunct legal teacher with the college off and on for the last 18 years and said he has a great love for the college.
“I just wanted to step up my involvement,” he said. “These are very trying times and the school needs good people who know what they’re doing to guide it.”
Jouras earned degrees in business administration and English from Kansas University and got his law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Morales, 41, is a freelance journalist and works in the Billington Library at JCCC. He is also a student, attending classes both through JCCC and Emporia State University.
In 2006, while serving as editor for The Campus Ledger, Morales broke the story of the sexual harassment allegations against then-JCCC President Charles Carlsen.
Weeks, 54, is a CPA who said he has always had a passion for education. A victim of Sprint’s recent downsizing, he said he decided to run for office because he wanted to do something to serve his community, as suggested by the pastor of his church.
“He’s always telling us to use our skills to the betterment of the community when we can, so I thought it sounded like a good idea,” Weeks said.
Cook, Drummond, Kanaga, Papazafiropoulos and Rayl could not be reached before press time.