Voters go with status quo
Evidently, Baldwin City voters are pleased with the status quo as far as the Baldwin City Council and Baldwin School Board are concerned.
In last week's election, voters returned five of six incumbents to the governing bodies and returned a former member of the council for another four-year stint. And, if that's not proof enough, School Board President Alison Bauer points out that despite the district's $300,000 short-fall in funding discovered last summer, the three incumbents who ran for re-election were unopposed.
"I think it's very interesting that even though there was an outcry that the board wasn't diligent, there weren't three or four candidates lined up to run against us," said Bauer. "I guess it's an endorsement about where we're going.
"We're trying," she said. "We really are trying. It's not an easy thing. I do feel a certain endorsement from the community. They are giving us an opportunity to regain their trust."
Along with Bauer, incumbents Blaine Cone and Scott Lauridsen won re-election. For the fourth opening on the board, Joshua Mihesuah defeated Teresa Arnold for the at-large position with a 402-320 vote advantage.
On the city council, incumbent Tony Brown garnered the most votes with 288. He was followed by Ken Wagner, who served on the council from 2001 to 2005, with 249 votes. Incumbent Ted Brecheisen Jr. won the last remaining position with 243 votes to edge fellow incumbent Nancy Brown, who had 218.
Council President Amy Cleavinger, who won re-election two years ago, thought the results were mostly good.
"I am pleased, for the most part, with the outcome of the election," said Cleavinger, "but at the same time sorry to lose all that Nancy Brown brought to the council. She is a very hard worker and I particularly appreciate the job that she has done with the Public Safety committee. She was also a very valuable member of the Finance Committee and I will miss her contribution in that area as well.
"We have a lot of hard work and challenges ahead of us and I think that we are very fortunate to have Ken Wagner's experience and perspective back on the council," she said. "Overall, I'm appreciative of all the candidates who stepped to the plate. It's not an easy job, but they were all willing to take an active role in making Baldwin an even better place to live and that is very admirable in my opinion."
She did not take the results to be a mandate on the council's direction.
"I don't know that the results are any indication of whether our citizens are pleased or not pleased with the job the council is doing.," said Cleavinger. "That is a difficult thing to assess when you can only get 15 percent of the registered voters to the polls. I think that no matter what, there is always more work to do and always room for improvement and I know that every single member of the council is committed to that effort."
The votes were canvassed Friday by the Douglas County Commission and made official. There were only small changes in vote totals and no outcomes were changed. The county clerk's office also released the names of those who got write-in votes.
During the last candidate forum, Lauridsen joked to the audience that they should write in Ivan Huntoon, who was the forum moderator, for a position on the school board. Four people did.
"I don't know whether to be flattered or thankful that some people in Baldwin have a good sense of humor," said Huntoon. "Absolutely if I ever choose to run for office, Scott will be the direction I go with him as a campaign manager."
But, Huntoon wasn't the top write-in vote getter in that school board race. Long-time Marion Springs Elementary School teacher Charlene Potter, who is retired, was first with six votes. Two other people had two votes. They were legendary Baldwin High School football coach Merle Venable and Brian Boyle. Gaining one vote apiece were Lynn Killingsworth, Ron Skaggs, Patty Irick, James D. Parr, Roger Arnold, Dave Wagner and Gary Collins.
There were fewer write-in votes in the other races. In both the other school board races, there were seven write-ins. In one, James R. Gill had two votes. With single votes were Gary Walbridge (Baldwin City's mayor), Kathleen K. Davis, Frank Foye, Russ Gill and Karla Osburn. In the other race, Gene Kivett had two votes. Gaining one vote apiece were Kathleen K. Davis, Archie A. Poplin (aka former BHS principal Alan Poplin), Larry Wilson, Diane Wagner and Lester Edgecomb.
The write-in "campaign" wasn't nearly as heavy in the city council race. Only two people got votes. Kathleen K. Davis had two and Jason Mock -- who was eliminated in the primary for city council -- had one.
But, for everyone, the main thing about the election is it's over.
"I thought the election went well," said Huntoon. "I was pleased to have a role in it. I'm glad it's over. The people have spoken. Now, it's time to move on."