IN THE NEWS
Shawnee City Council Member Jill Chalfie will not seek re-election; Endorses Laurel Burchfield for open Ward 4 seat
Jill Chalfie, Ward 4 incumbent on the Shawnee City Council, announced today that she will not be running for re-election and is endorsing Laurel Burchfield for the Ward 4 council seat.
“My time on the council has been incredibly rewarding and has allowed me countless opportunities to impact issues that affect Shawnee residents and visitors,” Chalfie said. “While I have chosen not to seek re-election, I’m excited to support my friend, Laurel Burchfield, who I know will bring a strong voice and a much-needed perspective to the council.”
Burchfield, a native Kansan and mother of two daughters enrolled in Benninghoven Elementary, announced her candidacy today.
“We chose Shawnee as our home because it’s a city full of warmth and potential,” Burchfield said. “I believe that everyone should feel welcome and safe in our community, but recent actions of our city council have made parts of our community question whether they have a home here. That’s not the city where I want to raise my children, and I’m running to ensure that we get back on the right path.”
As reported last week by the Kansas City Star and Shawnee Mission Post, several high-level Shawnee city employees have resigned in recent years after conflicts with council members. These departures have followed charged public exchanges where council members went against the advice and expertise of city staff. This tension continues, with ongoing disagreements around how funds collected from the ‘parks and pipes’ sales tax are used and the impact this could have on the city’s financial future.
“I am running because our city council is taking Shawnee in the wrong direction. A majority of this council has decided to pursue divisive and politically charged pet projects that make it harder for people to live and work here, and jeopardizes the financial security of our city.” said Burchfield. “This year, we have a chance to elect common-sense leaders who will work to ensure that Shawnee continues to be a great place to live, work, and play for everyone. As your city council member, I will listen to our residents' concerns and the expertise of our city staff while always seeking ways to strengthen Shawnee for our children and the future of our community.”
Exodus of high-level staff in this Johnson County city as tensions flare with council
Kansas City Star, May 22, 2023
A number of department heads and other high-level staff have resigned from the city of Shawnee, and some officials blame the exodus on tense conflicts with the City Council.
Shawnee City Council blamed for ongoing staffing ‘crisis’
Shawnee Mission Post, May 26, 2023
In a closed meeting with the Shawnee City Council in May 2022, City Manager Nolan Sunderman painted a grim picture of the staffing situation at city hall — employees were leaving in droves, he told councilmembers, and the unprecedented number of vacancies was piling up.
And Sunderman’s message was clear: the city council was to blame.