Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

Voters choose old, new candidates

April 5, 2007

Baldwin City voters chose a mixed bag of new and old for city council and school board positions in Tuesday's general election, with a heavy dose of returning incumbents.

Incumbent city council members Tony Brown and Ted Brecheisen Jr. return to office, as does Ken Wagner after two years off. Brown was the leading vote getter with 288, Wagner was second with 249 and Brecheisen had 243. Incumbent Nancy Brown, with 217 votes, narrowly lost her bid for re-election. Kenny Niehoff was fifth with 198 votes and Jennifer Hayes had 121.

In the contested school board race for the at-large position seven seat, newcomer Joshua Mihesuah defeated opponent Teresa Arnold, a long-time community member, 401 to 319. Incumbents running unopposed and regaining their spots on the board were Alison Bauer (600), Blaine Cone (571) and Scott Lauridsen (556).

Those choices were made by 15.6 percent of Baldwin's registered voters, according to Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew, who called the turnout about average.

"You always want higher turnout," said Shew. "I think what we saw was we didn't have a lot of issues to bring people out. Something wasn't connecting to get people to the polls.

"You could see that throughout the county, because it was precinct by precinct," he said.

In Baldwin City, there were a total of 569 voters for that 15.6 percent showing. By precinct, south Baldwin led the way as usual with 17.4 percent, northwest Baldwin had 16.29 percent and northeast Baldwin had 13.3 percent.

Voters were slow to turn out to the polls Tuesday when an early-morning rainstorm changed the plans of the traditionally before work voters into after work voters. By 2 p.m. Tuesday, only 7 percent of the registered voters at the Baldwin City Fire Station had cast ballots. In the end, 13 percent showed up at that poll.

"I think so," Shew said of the rain altering voting plans. "We always see a rush before work. A lot of precincts reported that didn't happen. I wonder if we didn't get them back to the polls, too. With a lot of commuters, the before work time to vote is it."

As for the candidates' reactions to the election, they varied. Brown, who garnered the most votes in the city council election and will serve another four years, liked what he saw from the voters.

"It was very flattering," said Brown. "Obviously, I'm pleased with the results. Not only for myself, but the city as a whole. Ken (Wagner) and Junior are good council members. I talked to them both (Tuesday) night and we're looking forward to working together.

"I really appreciate the other candidates and their willingness to run for public office and how they conducted themselves in the campaign," he said.

Brown isn't taking his victory as a mandate for his views.

"Oh, no," he said. "I view it as sort of a confirmation that the city council is at least headed in the right direction. And, I think we've had that sense, but it's good to see the public have a vote to say 'yea or nea.'"

The top vote getter in the only real race for school board is excited about the opportunity. Mihesuah has an extensive background in education and served on the school board in Flagstaff, Ariz., including a stint as its president.

"I am humbled and very thankful to have the chance to serve on the Baldwin School Board and I want to thank everyone who took time to vote," said Mihesuah. "Without the support of the community-minded people who really supported me -- and they know who they are -- I could not have won. I really look forward to working with the community. I promise to do the very best job I can for our students, teachers and staff."

His opponent, long-time clerk of the school board Arnold, wishes him the best.

"I am disappointed that I did not win, but I am sure that Josuha will do an excellent job on the board," said Arnold.

As for the unopposed incumbents, Bauer, who is currently school board president, said she's looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"Four more years, I hope they are productive and positive rather than strife-filled and controversial," said Bauer. "I just want to thank all the candidates for choosing to run. It's not an easy decision and I admire their willingness to put themselves out there in the public eye. Ms. Arnold and Mr. Mihesuah ran a good race, my congratulations to him and my thanks to her, and to Mr. (Doug) Mead for being willing to serve."

Results of the Tuesday election were in earlier than in the past and were posted by 9 p.m. Shew, the county clerk, said his office's hard work to ensure that had paid off.

"Everything went well," said Shew. "I was very pleased. We've really worked hard on that. Everything clicked. Part of that was low turnout, but a lot of it is the process."

The votes will be canvassed by the Douglas County Commission Friday before they are declared official.

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