On Jan. 14, Johnson County will welcome two new Board of County Commissioners — Janeé Hanzlick, 4th District; and Becky Fast, 1st District. The elected officials are looking forward to serving residents as they emphasize strengthening social service awareness and ensuring that Johnson County is an affordable and desirable place for families to call home for years to come.
We asked each commissioner-elect to tell us more about themselves. Here’s what they had to say:
Q. Why did you enter the race to become a county commissioner?
Commissioner-elect Hanzlick: After having worked at Safe Home for 20 years, and recently retiring as CEO, I have a lot of experience working in the county, and lived here, raised my children here, and saw this as an opportunity to move the county forward in a positive direction. Because the county oversees and offers so many human services, we need someone on the county commission who has that background and experience.
Commissioner-elect Fast: I’m looking forward to learning more about all the services Johnson County provides. I think most residents, like myself, don’t have a full understanding of the depth of the services that Johnson County government provides and how those services impact our lives on a day-to-day basis. I have served on the Roeland Park City Council, as an adjunct professor in health and human services at Washburn University, and as a public policy analyst for the University of Kansas. I hope to bring those skills and my background in health and human services to the county. I’ve also worked on the federal level as the constituent services director for Congressman Dennis Moore. That background, I hope, will inform me. But I also hope what will inform me is your input. My door is always open. Whether you’re an employee or a resident, I want to hear what services are important to you and what services we can improve upon to meet the challenges that Johnson County faces in the next years.
Q. What are some improvements that you are hoping to make as a commissioner?
Commissioner-elect Hanzlick: The areas I think I can make a difference are in helping to strengthen our mental health services, raising awareness of all the county has to offer, working to strengthen and raise awareness of senior services, especially since our senior population is rapidly growing. I also understand and can advocate for continued strong education.
Commissioner-elect Fast: I have a master’s in Public Administration and a master’s in Social Work. During the past years, I’ve worked closely with the Kansas Legislature on expanding access to mental health services. I’m greatly concerned about the increasing teenage suicide rate in Johnson County. I would like to take my background working in mental health to help impact that growing suicide rate. I’ve also been very concerned about the lack of affordable housing. When I say affordable housing its access to housing at differing price points, as it is increasingly becoming more difficult for seniors to retire here and children to be able to grow up here and afford to live in Johnson County. The third concern that I heard a lot about on the campaign trail is the increasing density of development in northeast Johnson County. We need to ensure that we as a community have green space and parks as the county faces significant population growth in the upcoming years.
Q. When you’re not serving as commissioner how will you be spending your time?
Commissioner-elect Hanzlick: I enjoy going to county parks. My husband and I visit a special trail in Shawnee Mission Park. I like reading. We have wonderful libraries in Johnson County. I enjoy being with friends. I’m active in the Overland Park Rotary Club. I’m also on the board of directors of the Johnson County Christmas Bureau.
Commissioner-elect Fast: One of the things I love to do is explore the Johnson County parks and trail system. On the Roeland Park City Council, I served on the Parks Committee. I was the liaison to Johnson County Parks and Recreation. You will often see me out hiking and biking. I’m also a movie fan. I’ve often won the Oscar movie pool when I’ve submitted my picks. So, you’ll regularly see me at the movie theater. I also enjoy heading out to see the Kansas City Royals or a KU basketball game.
Q. What’s one unique thing about yourself that you’d like for residents to know?
Commissioner-elect Hanzlick: Early in my career, I worked on Capitol Hill for a few years. I’m not a complete stranger to politics and public service. In the 1980s, when I met my husband who was from Kansas, I had to look up where Kansas was on a map. We moved here 30 years ago, and now it’s my home, and I love it.
I want residents to know, with your trust, I will work tirelessly on your behalf to help address challenges, and to secure lasting and meaningful improvements to our life in Johnson County. I want to ensure that Johnson County remains an outstanding place for people to live and raise families, and where businesses can flourish and enrich our local economy.
Commissioner-elect Fast: My great grandparents were early pioneers and homesteaded a farm in central Kansas. So, I am a fifth generation, proud Kansan. Another unique thing, I have a brother with Down Syndrome. So, I’m very involved in his activities to help him integrate into the community, as his legal guardian. As a young child, he was denied public education in the 1960s, and I’ve worked to help him have access to supports and services. And we’re very fortunate in Johnson County that we have a strong service system for persons with different abilities.