New Douglas County Commissioners Portillo, Reid elected to board leadership roles in first meeting

photo by: Meeting screenshot/Douglas County Commission

Douglas County Commissioner Patrick Kelly, top right, jokes about sending a mallet to Commissioner Shannon Portillo, bottom left, for her to use after she was elected as the Commission Chair for 2021 during a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Commissioner Shannon Reid, bottom right, was elected as vice chair.

Two new Douglas County officials on Wednesday quickly stepped into leadership roles just days after they were sworn into office.

Commissioners Shannon Portillo and Shannon Reid were unanimously elected as chair and vice chair of the County Commission during its regular meeting. Both were appearing during their first meeting after they filled the seats on the commission on Monday.

Portillo takes over the chair role from Commissioner Patrick Kelly, while Reid takes over the vice chair role from former Commissioner Michelle Derusseau.

Reid nominated Portillo to serve as chair, noting her experience serving on public boards, including her recent experience serving as co-chair for Gov. Laura Kelly’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice. She is also an academic affairs administrator for the University of Kansas and an associate professor for the university’s School of Public Affairs and Administration.

“Not only is she an expert in local government and public administration, she’s been a strong Latina leader throughout our community for many years now,” Reid said of Portillo, who is Mexican-American. “This feels like pretty natural fit from where I sit, and I believe Commissioner Portillo’s leadership will be of great benefit and service to Douglas County in the coming year,” she added.

Meanwhile, Portillo nominated Reid as vice chair. Reid currently works for the Willow Domestic Violence Center, where she serves as the coordinator for the organization’s court advocacy program.

“I’m excited for the new leadership Commissioner Reid is bringing to our community and I’m excited for the advocacy work she’s done in our community to extend into this elected role,” Portillo said.

Shortly after taking over the leadership role, Portillo acknowledged the riot at the U.S. Capitol led by supporters of President Donald Trump last week as Congress worked to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Portillo said elected officials have a duty to respect the voices of voters and uphold the U.S. Constitution. She called the riot an insurrection by a white-supremacist mob to overturn the will of American voters, which was made worse by some Kansas federal lawmakers joining the effort by voting against the election certification.

“Here in Douglas County I’m thrilled to start the work of our commission, honoring the voices of our residents knowing we build a stronger community by listening to all voices, especially the voices of those who have been silenced and ignored for centuries,” Portillo said. “I believe in this commission’s ability to honor the people of Douglas County and follow through on the promises of our Constitution.”

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved the consent agenda, which included authorizing the Public Works Department to solicit bids for bridge and culvert projects and the purchase of chemicals to control road dust.

• Approved appointing Mariel Ferreiro as a new community representative member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and re-appointing Shaye Downing, a criminal defense attorney, and Anthony Sanchez, a community representative, to each serve another term.

Contact Dylan Lysen

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact reporter Dylan Lysen:


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.