Don Jarrett

Don Jarrett, chief counsel and director of Legal Services, will finish 35 years of service to Johnson County Government with his retirement on March 20. The selection process for hiring a new chief counsel is currently underway. On March 21, Cindy Dunham, deputy director of legal services, will become the interim chief counsel/director of Legal Services until the position is filled.
Following graduation from KU School of Law, Johnson County Government was Jarrett’s second employer, having come from the firm of Bennett, Lytle, Wetzler, Winn and Martin in 1985.
“Don Jarrett’s 35 years of service to Johnson County has been outstanding. His knowledge of state law affecting local government is extraordinary,” said Ed Eilert, chairman, Johnson County Board of County Commissioners. “Don’s advice regarding the county’s legal issues was always direct and well considered.  His strong commitment to Johnson County will be missed. We wish him the best for whatever his future holds.”
“Over the past decade, Don has offered valuable counsel to me, both on legal questions and, as a member of our executive team, on broader issues impacting our organization and community,” said Penny Postoak Ferguson, county manager. “He is a valued member of our team and we appreciate his 35 years of service.”
Jarrett summed up his commitment to the position, saying, “I enjoy the work and have a deep, abiding belief in local government and that we help people every day.”
Thirty-five years eclipses a very long list of changes. “Everything has changed,” he said. Among them:
• Going from a three-member commission to five and finally to seven.
• The county hired its first professional manager.
• The Johnson County Charter Commission was formed in 1999 and in November 2000, voters approved the Home Rule Charter, the first of its kind in the state of Kansas. The Home Rule Charter is a legislative document that defines the structure, powers, purpose and function of county government.
Of all the work and initiatives he has been involved in, Jarrett is most proud of the county’s stance as a high performing organization and the Leadership Empowers All People (LEAP) training. In 2010, Jarrett helped to create and design the existing program and has been an active member of the teaching cadre’.
Another proud achievement; Jarrett was named a Fellow of the Municipal Lawyer Association in 2008 for his demonstrated excellence in the field of local government law.
During his tenure, Jarrett has served under 13 different chairs, 32 commissioners, and five county managers.
Dunham has worked with Jarrett for 23 years.
“Don has an extremely sharp legal mind,” she said. “His ability to recall what, when and why is uncanny, as well as his ability to see the entire challenge from different angles.”