Familiar Face: Johnson County, KS Turns to Connie Schmidt to Administer 2020 Election

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Kansas’ Johnson County (Overland Park), facing a vacancy in its election office on the eve of the 2020 election cycle, has turned to a familiar face and named former commissioner Connie Schmidt interim commissioner of elections. KansasCity.com has more:

A former Johnson County election commissioner will return to that post for the 2020 balloting, the Kansas Secretary of State announced Friday.

Connie Schmidt, who held the commissioner’s job from 1994 to 2005, was appointed to the position by Secretary of State Scott Schwab, whose office oversees elections.

“Her knowledge and expertise in election administration will be invaluable to the county for the upcoming election cycle,” Schwab said in a statement.

Schmidt’s position is only for 2020, however; she will oversee this year’s election while she trains a longtime local official who will assume the job in 2021:

Schmidt will hold the job temporarily. Fred Sherman, who was named deputy election security commissioner of Johnson County by Schwab Friday, will take over the top job by Jan. 4, 2021.

Schmidt will be training Sherman for the role in the interim, a spokesperson from the Office of the Secretary of State said. Officials wanted someone with more experience in the role through the 2020 election cycle.

Ronnie Metsker, the previous Johnson County election commissioner, resigned in December 2019. He drew heavy criticism for an all-night delay for the county’s 2018 results.

Schmidt also served as the city clerk for Merriam, Kansas. Since 2005, she has owned and managed an election consulting business that assists local, state and federal agencies, according to Schwab’s statement.

Sherman was previously the chief administrative officer and city clerk for Westwood, Kansas. He has over 25 years of experience in city and county government, Schwab said.

A committee of representatives from Johnson County government and the Kansas secretary of state’s office interviewed candidates last week. They submitted recommendations to Schwab.

As the state’s most populous jurisdiction, Johnson County gets lots of scrutiny during election season; for that reason, it makes sense to have an experienced hand in charge during this year’s high-pressure presidential election – all the while providing background in election administration to a longtime local administrator for the long run. Kudos to Schmidt and Sherman – I have no doubt they have hit the ground running with primaries on the horizon and Election Day 2020 just over nine months away! Stay tuned …

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