Elliott, Fairfield bring experience to second district commissioner race

After defeating a Republican challenger in the August primary election, John Elliott will face Democrat John Fairfield in the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election for the Second District Platte County Commission seat.

Fairfield, a former Kansas City councilman, boasts far more political experience than Elliott’s primary challenger, newcomer Jason Buckley. In that matchup, Elliott received 2,482 votes to Buckley’s 1,024.

John Fairfield, 62, was born in Michigan but his family relocated to Kansas City’s Northland when he was less than one year old. 

Single, he has one daughter who attends drama school in Los Angeles, Calif. A graduate of the University of Missouri — Kansas City, he graduated from UMKC Law School and began his practice in Platte County. After practicing law for many years in various firms, he now has a solo practice. He served as assistant city attorney for Platte Woods and Northmoor and was a judge in Platte Woods. 

John Fairfield

John Fairfield

While on the Kansas City City Council, he served as vice chair of the planning and economic development subcommittee and on the finance committee. He led the city negotiating team on the American Airlines Overhaul Base issue.

“Platte County is my home, and I want to protect my community and help lead it forward,” Fairfield said. “I have worked with past county commissioners, including Diza Eskridge, Betty Knight, Mike Short and Steve Wegner to leverage Platte County tax dollars for many Platte County projects like the Tiffany Hills ball fields, Aquatic Center, trails, parks, Barry Road, Green Hills Road and others.”

Fairfield said he wants to protect and improve the quality of life in the county through strategic planning for long term needs such as road improvements in the northern part of the county. He also hopes to encourage development that would bring new, good-paying jobs to the county.

He supports renewal of the one-half cent parks tax, but only after public engagement. The will of the residents, he said, should help dictate in what form the tax should take, and at what rate. 

Fairfield does not favor funding law enforcement through a sales tax.

“Sale taxes can rise and fall dramatically from year-to-year, so if law enforcement is too closely tied to it, what do we do in the years when sales tax receipts are down?” Fairfield said. “Do we lay off deputies or reduce their wages to make budget? I hope not as we could not hope to keep good personnel, and that does not provide the public safety needs our residents deserve.”

Fairfield said after a detailed planning discussion with the sheriff, perhaps the county could augment public safety funding with a sales tax. However, he said the county general fund supported by a reasonable property tax is the most stable and safe manner to fund law enforcement.

Shiloh Springs Golf Course is under new management through KemperSports, and Fairfield said he would like to see their plan for success before making a decision on the future of the course.

John Elliott, 54, is originally from Spickard, Mo. Married, he has two grown children and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia. After working for Wells Bank, he has spent nearly 20 years at Inside Information, a web solutions company located in Smithville, Mo.

Elliott has served on various boards, including the Board of Equalization, and has watched government and politics very closely for the past 30 years, he said. 

John Elliott

John Elliott

“I want to work with presiding commissioner (Ron) Schieber to address financial, operational and personnel issues in county government,” Elliott said. “I’m conservative, I have no personal agenda, I don’t ‘need’ a job, I have no plans for future office, but I do have a plan for Platte County.”

That plan includes focusing on core county commission responsibilities, including law enforcement and prosecution and maintaining county roads, bridges and facilities. He wants to make law enforcement the county’s first priority, noting that increasing population in the second district brings more crime, as well as more maintenance needs. 

Elliott listed several additional planned priorities such as enhancing ethics standards for commissioners, commission candidates and county employees and banning county tax questions from April ballots or special elections. He would like to restructure and reduce county sales and property taxes, tackle efficiency and long term budgeting and build reserves for prosecution, future jail space and maintenance of facilities such as the Platte County Community Centers. 

He supports renewal of the parks tax to support maintenance and stormwater projects, but at a lower rate, and with inclusion of law enforcement needs. Another 10 years at a quarter cent would cover maintenance numbers presented by the former parks director, he said.

Elliot said the Shiloh Springs Golf Course has cost the county and its taxpayers enough, through an annual operating loss of $250,000, and doesn’t believe it should stay under county ownership. 

“I don’t want to see it closed but I do want it off the county’s books and I believe there are a couple of ways of doing that,” Elliott said.