Baldwin mayor’s race heats up again
Following the Feb. 28 primary election, Mayor Stan Krysztof weighed his options and has decided to continue to seek re-election as a write-in candidate. It was the latest development in the city election that has brought wide-spread interest for months.
Although he was the lowest vote-getter of four mayoral candidates in the primary election, he has decided to campaign as a write-in candidate against Ken Hayes and Slade Dillon in the April 3 general election.
"It's official," said Krysztof Tuesday morning. "I've just decided to campaign as a write-in candidate."
That's how much he believes in what the city has been doing for the four years he served as mayor and the two years he was a city council member.
Krysztof was also considering taking the 30 hours a week he says it takes to be mayor and applying the time to his hobbies hot rods and working in his yard.
For him to seek a write-in nomination, he said he needed to be confident there is enough support and that has happened. He thinks he has more support than what turned out at the primary election. He said the day's weather rain, sleet and snow may have kept some voters from the polls.
"People just didn't get out," Krysztof said. "It is hard to describe what my reaction really was was it the weather or what? When I tally the total votes (of the four mayoral candidates), I got more votes than that last time in the general election. There were at least 400 people that didn't vote this time."
Hayes, the top vote-getter, has a different take on the results. It wasn't the weather, it was simply the public's desire for change. Hayes also would like to see new faces in the three city council seats up for grabs.
"The results showed me the city was interested in a new leadership with myself, Ken Wagner, George McCrary and Todd Cohen as the top vote-getters," Hayes said. "It shows me the city is not happy with what's going on that they want a new direction and a new focus."
He also doesn't agree with Krysztof's opinion of how the election went.
"More people participated in this primary than any past primary and Mr. Krysztof received 14 percent of the popular vote," said Hayes. "He should take this as a sign that Baldwin City wants change and he should retire from public office with dignity."
As part of his campaign for change, Hayes has publicly endorsed four-year candidates Wagner and McCrary, and two-year candidate Todd Cohen. But, both he and the other candidates want to make it clear that there is no "coalition" involved. Each of the candidates has expressed their independence of each other, despite what might have been printed in other publications.
"They are the kind of people I want to work with," Hayes said. "We share the same goal the betterment of Baldwin. But they will not blindly follow the mayor."
Hayes said voters also expressed a desire for "home grown" leadership. Hayes and his opponent in the general election, Dillon, are Baldwin natives.
Dillon, whose votes narrowly topped third-place finisher Michael C. Green, said campaigning door to door kept his name on the ballot.
"I wouldn't still be in it if I didn't do that," Dillon said of his door-to-door campaign.
His approach worked in an election highly publicized in political advertisements, letters to the editor and public forums.
"It was a slim margin," Dillon said. "I'm sure running around talking to people made the difference."
Dillon said going door to door was worth his time, and he plans to do more. He said citizens are concerned about how the city is spending its money and the basic issues of electricity, water and sewer.
And he learned about other issues, as well.
"I heard stray dogs mentioned more than anything," he said.
Dillon predicts the race between him and Hayes will be close.
"I think my chances are good," Dillon said. "I'm counting on the open minds of the electors. I believe in what I am doing. I believe in the community."
As for Krysztof's announcement to run as a write-in candidate, Dillon was brief.
"Good for him," Dillon said. "It's a free country."
Krysztof said he would not support Hayes or Dillon before deciding to run as a write-in candidate.
"We have two very inexperienced people one is going to be mayor," Krysztof said. "Boy, are they in for a rude awakening with the experience they have. It is a whole lot different when you are in there doing it. There are going to be some hard decisions coming up in the next four years."
The only candidates Krysztof is supporting are incumbents Lee Whaley and Gene Nelson, who finished fourth and second, respectively in their races. Had the primary counted as the final vote, both would be out. That raised more than a few eyebrows.
"I think we're seeing a mandate from the people," said Wagner, the top vote-getter in the four-year race. "The Southwest Industrial/Recreational Park was a big issue and I think we've got a mandate from the people that that shouldn't proceed. Fiscal responsibility and taxes are pretty obvious concerns, too. Concerns are what impact the voters. They're saying let's get our fiscal house in order. I think it was a great voter turnout. I think Baldwin City had some quality candidates to choose from and it was a mandate from them."
Incumbent Whaley was not surprised at his fourth-place finish behind Wagner, McCrary and Carol Taul. All four will proceed to the general election.
"It was not a real surprise, but, of course, it was a disappointment," Whaley said.
He said council members have worked hard to bring the city "up to snuff."
"It didn't seem the voters understood this," Whaley said. "Apparently, the things that were accomplished weren't appreciated."
Whaley, originally a supporter of McCrary, said he has concerns about the "team" of Hayes, Wagner, McCrary and Cohen, which has proven not to be the "coalition" that some have described.
"I see a team put together with the same ideas," Whaley said. "That doesn't look good to me."
Cohen was the top vote-getter for the two-year position on the city council over incumbent Nelson and Mike Magers. Cohen agreed the results showed the need for a fresh start, but discounted the idea that it was a group effort.
"I think the fact that newcomers did so well shows the people want a fresh start," Cohen said. "And I think voters wanted a government that would be more inclusive and would reach out and involve the citizens."
All of the candidates thanked their supporters for voting in the terrible weather.
And all of them would probably agree with Nelson, who also will proceed to the general election.
"I've got a lot of work to do," Nelson said.