Michael Rhoades will be the new member of the Roeland Park City Council. Rhoades won a four-way race Tuesday to fill the unexpired term of Robert Myers, Jr. who resigned from the council earlier this year.
Rhoades had 160 votes to the 117 cast for Shea Geist. The other two candidates on the ballot, Roger Cooper and Russell Parks, each collected six votes. Only residents in Ward 2 could vote in the election. Of the 1,254 eligible voters, 289 or 23 percent, cast ballots in the election. Rhoades had more than 55 percent of the vote to Geist’s just over 40 percent.
The newest councilor will be confronted almost immediately with two votes on controversial issues that have received divided opinion from the public. The proposed anti-discrimination ordinance that would provide protection for sexual orientation and gender identity had figured into the council race. Geist had been endorsed by Equality Kansas, a group that has been advocating for passage of the ordinance and helped draft the ordinance. The group sponsored a flyer supporting Geist, which was sent around the ward just before the election. A vote now is expected in June.
The second issue is that of exemptions for the KCP&L franchise fee. The council has been deadlocked in its attempts to decide if the exemptions from the fee should be continued for churches, schools, governments and non-profits.
Both the anti-discrimination ordinance and the franchise fee have seen wide public comment reflecting both sides of the issue. The council also has begun its budget deliberations for the year.