Former Mission mayor files for state Senate


Former Mission Mayor Laura McConwell on Thursday filed to run as a Republican to replace outgoing state Sen. Barbara Bollier.

McConwell became the third high-profile candidate to announce their candidacy for the state Senate seat in District 7, which covers a swath of northeast Johnson County including Fairway, Prairie Village and parts of Leawood and Overland Park.

Laura McConwell

State Rep. Stephanie Clayton is already lined up against Ethan Corson, former executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, in a Democratic primary for the seat.

“Our district needs a person who represents all those in the district, works well with others, respects our diverse communities, engages with residents and presses for results. I am that person,” McConwell said in a statement.

McConwell served three terms as Mission’s mayor from 2002 to 2014. She ran for the Johnson County Commission in 2014 but lost to former Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer.

When McConwell was mayor of Mission, the city invested heavily in infrastructure.

The city increased sales tax to pay for roads and repairs to a city pool. Both taxes were approved by Mission voters.

She also launched the redevelopment of the former Mission Mall site, which is now expected to open in phases in 2020 and 2021.

The city also adopted a new way to finance street improvements that critics called a “driveway tax,” which the Kansas Supreme Court later ruled violated state law.

Her support of what was technically known as transportation utility fee led conservatives in the Senate to derail her reappointment the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission in 2015.

The Brown University graduate is president of the Johnson County Bar Association and a member of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Foundation.

She also is secretary of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.

McConwell earned her law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Under McConwell’s leadership, the city was credited for employing strategies to foster sustainability and “smart growth.”

Smart Growth America, for example, praised the city’s comprehensive plan that emphasized neighborhood revitalization, infrastructure improvement, stormwater management and multiple transportation options.

McConwell was Kansas mayor of the year in 2008.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly defeated Republican Kris Kobach in District 7 by about 39 percentage points last year, and Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids beat Republican Kevin Yoder by 28 percentage points.

The district also went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrat Paul Davis in 2014 and Barack Obama in 2012.