Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Weiss wins seat on JCCC board

April 5, 2007

Controversy over last year's sexual harassment charges at Johnson County Community College did not keep voters from re-electing two incumbents for the college's board of trustees.

The third at-large seat will be filled by a man who is a former candidate for the Kansas State School Board and a dean at DeVry University.

In complete but unofficial results, Don Weiss and incumbents Jon Stewart and Lynn Mitchelson racked up the most votes for the at-large seats on the board. Stewart pulled in the most votes with 20,549, more than 23 percent of the 87,976 votes cast. Weiss followed with 22 percent of the vote, and Mitchelson, the current board chairman, followed with 19 percent.

In his campaign, Weiss said he wanted to restore trust in the board on the college campus and increase communication between the board, students and faculty. He said he did see some effects from the sexual harassment controversy in the results.

"I think the votes do indicate some dissatisfaction," Weiss said. "But the numbers say the voters are looking for, No. 1, some new blood, and No. 2, somebody with some moderate positions. I think (voters) do want to see some better communication from the board and more transparency."

On that note, as the newest member of the board, Weiss said he would push for the trustees to be more open with students and faculty.

"I think it's very important, and our first order of business is to restore some trust with the community," he said. "And the second thing will be to work very closely with the new president to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to provide a high quality community college."

The other three candidates trailed the three front-runners by at least 4,800 votes. Attorney Dwight Sutherland had 13.5 percent of the vote, and David Nelson, a brokerage specialist, gathered 11.7 percent. Lorianne Fisher Koneczny, a consultant and JCCC student, had just 10 percent of the vote.

Nelson, who lives in Shawnee, asked for accountability from current board members for last year's scandal in his campaign. On Tuesday, he said he believed the winners had only the best intentions for the college.

"It's always a good experience, and I sure was happy with it," Nelson said. "The three who got the most votes, I know all three of them were very well-intentioned, and I'm sure they'll do their best to help the college."

Vote totals will be made official once the Johnson County Board of Canvassers convenes Friday morning to validate the count and rule on provisional ballots.

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