On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Butler County voters made changes to the college’s Board of Trustees. Kim Braungardt unseated Doug Law, of District 2 Position 5, by 72 votes, according to Butler County, Kansas, election results. Linda Jolly beat John Laffen, of District 1 Position 4, by 461 votes, and David Sherrer beat Stephen Mills, of District 3 Position 6, by 216 votes.
This election though was contentious for the college considering growing concern by Butler County citizens regarding property taxes. To do their part, some Butler Community College faculty organized a political action committee (PAC), Butler for Higher Education. The PAC’s goal focused on informing voters about who was running for the trustee election and what their goal was if they were to win.
“We wanted to make sure that everyone who was able to vote know who has the best intentions for Butler and its future,” said Cheree Encapera, PAC director and Behavior Science professor.
Other PAC members included Butler Community College National Education Association President Terry Sader, Treasurers Matt Sanders and Mac Thompson and John Jenkinson, English professor, who helped start the PAC.
“We always assumed that those running for a trustee position were doing so because they believed in Butler and wanted to protect the academic excellence inside its walls,” Encapera said. “Unfortunately, we were wrong. The election in 2019 clearly demonstrated to us that we needed to pay better attention if we wanted to protect the institution, we devoted our lives to.”
The PAC advocated for Jolly and Doug Law mainly because they had Butler’s best intentions at heart, according to Encapera.
“Our goal was simply to support candidates who were pro-Butler and wanted to make the college stronger as a whole,” Encapara said.
The PAC encouraged other others who wanted to also advocate for Jolly and Law to place signs in their yard, place flyers on neighboring doors, making financial donations to the PAC and/or marching in the Andover and Rose Hill parade.
Jolly, who has lived in Butler County her whole life, works for El Dorado, Inc.
“Jolly raised her children here, believes in the positive economic impact Butler has on the county, values the role of instructors and is also a financial expert,” Encapara said.
As for Law, who is a current trustee, the PAC supported him because of his record on the board.
“Doug has dedicated his life to education and has served the Augusta community his entire adult life. He always presented himself in a professional manner and had the college’s best interest at heart on all his voting decisions” Encapara said.
Braungardt, Jolly and Sherrer will begin working as trustees in January 2022. Law’s tenure as a trustee will end that month alongside Jim Howell, of District 1 Position 4, and Lance Lechtenberg, of District 3 Position 6, will exit as trustees.