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Tuesday marks 1st day of candidacy filing for JaxCo prosecuting attorney; incumbent won't seek re-election

Jackson County Courthouse
Posted at 12:38 PM, Feb 27, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tuesday marked the first day those wanting to run for Jackson County prosecuting attorney could file for candidacy; incumbent Jean Peters Baker announced in June she would not be running for re-election.

As of Tuesday afternoon, four candidates — three Democrats and one Republican — had filed, according to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office.

John Gromowsky, Melesa Johnson, Stephanie M. Burton and Tracey Chappell were the first to submit their filings at the Jackson County Courthouse in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, after registration opened at 8 a.m.

John Gromowsky — Democrat

Gromowsky, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, has a history of working in the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. As an assistant prosecutor in the early 2000s, he worked as both the Kansas City Police Department Central Patrol Division Community prosecutor and the Jackson County Drug Task Force prosecutor, according to a press release from his campaign.

In 2005, Gromowsky opened his own law firm focused on criminal defense, in which he represented clients from both Missouri and Kansas against charges ranging from murder to drug offenses and fraud.

Most recently, Gromowsky returned to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office to resume work as an assistant prosecutor in 2021. By being assigned to the Violent Crimes Unit, Gromowsky responds to homicide scenes and works alongside detectives to prosecute defendants in murder cases and other violent crimes, per the release.

“The citizens of Jackson County are fed up with the violence and tired of being the victims of quality-of-life crimes, such as burglaries, stolen cars, and business break-ins," Gromowsky said in his press release. "Fixing these problems will require a joint effort between the prosecutor’s office and the community, where the office is viewed as a trusted partner and not merely a government agency tasked with prosecuting cases. Building that trust will require real work, and I’m ready to do it.”

Gromowsky is a lifelong Jackson County resident, according the press release.

Melesa Johnson — Democrat

Johnson, a Columbia University and University of Missouri School of Law graduate, is familiar with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office, having served as an assistant prosecutor for almost two years starting in 2014, according to her website. As an assistant prosecutor, Johnson tried several jury trials and was awarded Rookie of the Year from incumbent Peters Baker. It was in this position that Johnson worked to find a "balance between justice for victims and opportunities of transformation for offenders," per her website.

Johnson currently works in the Kansas City, Missouri, mayor's office as the director of public safety. In this role, she focuses on policies regarding violence prevention and intervention, including overseeing Partners for Peace which is in partnership with KCPD, according to her website.

Johnson says her dedication to improving public safety is more than a career goal, rather, it ignited in her personal life as she grew up in and continues to reside in "one of the most dangerous parts of Jackson County," per her website.

Johnson's campaign is focused on improving safety and equity in Jackson County, according to her website.

Stephanie M. Burton — Democrat

Burton's legal experience began with 240 hours of service with the Midwest Innocence Project and the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic and includes a history of pro bono work, according to her website.

Burton, a University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law graduate, currently works as a criminal trial attorney and is licensed to practice law in both Missouri and Kansas, as well as multiple United States District Courts across the country, per her website. She also currently serves as a Missouri State Public Defender Panel attorney.

Her expertise lies in trial experience, including homicide cases, other violent crimes and federal conspiracy cases, according to her website.

Her resume also includes working alongside conviction integrity units to shape policies regarding exonerations of wrongfully convicted individuals, per her website.

Tracey Chappell — Republican

Chappell secured 41% of the vote for Jackson County prosecutor in 2020, when Peters Baker won the last election, according to a press release.

"I am honored to once again step forward as a candidate for Jackson County Prosecutor," she said in the release. "The challenges facing our community demand strong and effective leadership. Over the last four years we have seen crime and corruption skyrocket in Jackson County. We need new leadership in our community, and that’s why I’m announcing my candidacy for Jackson County Prosecutor. Together, with the support of the people of Jackson County, we will work towards safety for every zip code!”

Chappell says her campaign envisions a safer Jackson County.

Additional information

Qualifications for Jackson County Prosecuting Attorneys include: the ability to practice law in the state of Missouri; being a registered voter; and having an established residency in Jackson County for at least three years prior to filing for candidacy.

Those who are interested in the position have until 5 p.m. on March 26 to file for candidacy. Their position on the ballot will be determined by the date and time of when they filed, according to Jackson County.

The primary election will be on Aug. 6 and the general election will be held on Nov. 5.

Peters Baker, who was appointed to the position in 2011 and won the election in 2012, will hand over her prosecuting duties after her last day in office on Jan. 3, 2025.

This story will be updated if more Jackson County prosecuting attorney candidacy filings are made on Tuesday, Feb. 27.