Teresa Hills steps down, temporary replacement named
r. Teresa Hills, a dentist, has resigned from the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees due to a relocation of her residence and dental practice out of this area.
On Monday, a temporary replacement to fill Hills’ seat on the five-member board was named by the Platte County Commission. Commissioners appointed Dr. Jeffrey Kingsley, MD to fill the vacancy.
Kingsley’s appointment is good through the upcoming April 6 election, at which time the seat will be permanently filled.
Kingsley has filed to run for the remainder of the term on the health board. The unexpired term to be filled in the April 6 election will end in April of 2024.
In addition to Kingsley, two others have also already filed as candidates to run for the health department board seat in April. They are David Park, of the 4100 block of NW 75th in Kansas City; and Doug Jones, of the 10100 block of N. Bradford Ave., Kansas City.
Park most recently ran unsuccessfully for the second district commission seat, losing to Joe Vanover.
Kingsley, who resides in the 12100 block of NW 81st St., Kansas City, has also previously sought elective office without success. In 2015, he finished last out of four candidates for two open spots on the Park Hill School Board. In that 2015 election, Matt Pepper and Karen Holland were elected with 2260 and 1910 votes, respectively. Also on the ballot but not elected were Lathem Scott with 1,604 votes, with Kingsley’s 1,535 votes bringing up the rear.
It’s possible more candidates could still file. Filing does not close until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Candidates can file at the Platte County Board of Elections office, located at 2600 NW Prairie View Road in Platte City during regular business hours.
While the Platte County Commission may appoint members to a vacancy on the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees, neither the health department nor its board of trustees report to the commission. The health department is funded primarily through a property tax levy and user fees.
The health department’s property tax levy is .0779 per $100 of assessed valuation.
In a rare move, the Platte County Commissioners on Monday sent out a news release announcing this appointment. The county commission does not typically distribute news releases about the various appointments it makes.
“With this appointment, Dr. Kingsley will be the only physician serving on the health department’s board of trustees,” the county commission’s news release stated.
The news release from the county commission’s office says “Dr. Kingsley’s medical expertise is in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. He currently serves as a pediatric/neonatal hospitalist.”
The news release goes on to say: “Dr. Kingsley’s research includes HIV treatment” and says that Kingsley is “board certified in pediatrics.”
Kingsley is quoted in the county commission’s news release as saying: “Following sound medical advice and science is very important in these uncertain times. I’m eager to serve the citizens of Platte County.”
Ron Schieber, presiding county commissioner, who has been a critic of the health department’s moves in fighting COVID-19, says in the county commission’s news release: “In these uncertain times, Platte County is fortunate to have a physician with these qualifications willing to serve the people of Platte County.”
Dagmar Wood, first district county commissioner, who has also been a harsh critic of many of the steps the health department has taken during the pandemic and who in the past has posted conspiracy theories about COVID-19 on her Facebook page, is quoted as saying: “The need to have at least one medical doctor volunteering on the health department’s board is just common sense. Dr. Jeffrey Kingsley is uniquely qualified to bring a perspective on the board that will be particularly useful at this time.”
Joe Vanover, new county commissioner in district two elected in November to replace John Elliott, who did not seek re-election, is quoted as saying: “I’m proud one of my first official actions was to approve the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey Kingsley to the health department board of trustees.”
According to the news release, Kingsley is married and has three children who have attended public schools in Platte County.
Reached by The Landmark after the county commission’s press release about appointing Kingsley came out, candidate David Park said:
“The Platte County Commissioners withheld substantial, needed COVID-19 funding from the health department for political reasons, and I want to ensure the health department can continue to maintain its independence from the commission. I am concerned about the new trustee being hand-picked by the commissioners and then beholden to them to do their bidding.”
Park is referring to the fact that the county commission funded only $308,166 of a requested $741,743 in federal CARES dollars that are in control of the commissioners.
Park went on to add:
“In our current environment, it has become increasingly clear how important the health department is in protecting our health, preventing disease and improving our quality of life in Platte County. This is a nonpartisan position and I want to help ensure politics do not overshadow science as the basis for decisions on public health.”