Archive for Thursday, April 7, 2005

Baldwin voters turn out

April 7, 2005

Baldwin City and area voters finally got to speak Tuesday on city council, mayor, school board and the gay-marriage amendment and they spoke loudly and often.

Turnout was heavy in the Baldwin area, according to Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew, with 40 percent of the voters showing up at most of the various polls. Those voters brought back four incumbents, but replaced two others.

"It was a really strong turnout," said Shew. "Not just for the amendment, but the contested races contributed, too."

Baldwin voters chose incumbent city council members Tony Brown and Amy Cleavinger overwhelmingly, with 728 and 524 votes, respectively. They were joined by newcomer Doyle Jardon (424 votes) who easily outdistanced the other two candidates, Jason Mock (248) and John Frazier (169). However, those same voters chose challenger Gary Walbridge (533) over incumbent Ken Hayes (328).

"I'm not sure I understand the message voters are sending to current city government officials," said Brown, a Baker University professor who ran unopposed to fulfill the seat he had been appointed to. "On the one hand, they vote for change in the mayoral position. On the other hand, they cast relatively strong votes to retain two council members appointed by the mayor.

"These results may reflect a deeper underlying conflict in the community between progressivism and traditionalism," he said. "It will be interesting to see how this conflict is resolved over the next couple of years."

Walbridge, Baker's director of physical plant operations, was pleased with the results and hopes to continue the improvements that have been made to the city.

"I have had a number of congratulation calls, including one from Ken Hayes," said Walbridge. "I thought that showed class and he offered help in making a smooth transition. I think we have a good council and strong committee personnel. I know we can continue to improve the city and service our community to their satisfaction."

Hayes, who along with three other new council members were elected four years ago and inherited major infrastructure problems, is pleased with what that group attained.

"I am damn proud of what this administration accomplished," said Hayes, who owns a construction business. "We were elected to fix problems and we fixed them. I feel good about it. I did what I was elected to do. If people want something else, this is a democracy, so be it.

"No, I didn't build any bridges," he said. "I'm proud of what we did. I know Baldwin is a better place. In my opinion, the heavy lifting has been done."

Brown said he believes the improvements made to the infrastructure speak to what the previous council did.

"I very much appreciated Ken Hayes' leadership over the last four years," said Brown. "By any objective standard, the overall quality of life in Baldwin City is better today than it was when he started his term. I believe we all should thank him for his service to our community."

In the school board races, incumbents Lonnie Broers and Ande Parks were re-elected, while fellow board member Chip Hornberger was defeated by challenger Ruth Barkley. Bill Busby, running unopposed, gained the other seat with 1,363 votes. Other vote totals were: Broers, 1,139, to 454 for challenger David Norris; Parks, 793, to 620 for Jay Hundley; and Barkley had 922 votes to 680 for Hornberger.

"Being appointed last year was nice, as it gave me a chance to see if the board was a good fit for me and get my feet wet before running," said Parks. "It feels great, though, to win the community's support. I'm thrilled about being elected, and I'm dedicated to doing whatever I can to serve our kids for the next four years."

Cleavinger expressed similar sentiment on her election to the council.

"I am very grateful to the people of Baldwin City for allowing me to continue to serve as a member of the city council," Cleavinger said. "My hope is that this council will maintain the steady progress that has been made in Baldwin City over the past four years.

"We have made great strides and I would like to see those efforts continue," she said. "I truly appreciate the support of those who voted for me and I will continue to work hard for them and for this community."

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