Archive for Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Douglas County Commission races set for November

August 6, 2008

Support from rural voters carried a former Douglas County district attorney to victory Tuesday in a high-profile Republican primary for a Douglas County Commission seat.

Jim Flory, whose family has deep roots in the area, won 57 percent the vote over John Tacha, a former Lawrence school board president. The 500-vote margin even surprised Flory.

He joined Republican David L. Brown and Democrats Nancy Thellman and Ken Grotewiel as primary winners for two county commission seats. The general election is Nov. 4.

"I would like to think what worked in my favor was the shoe leather. I walked door-to-door in a lot of the precincts," Flory said.

Tacha said Flory's support outside of Lawrence played a major factor.

"The rural people voted, and the city people didn't," Tacha said. "I think you've got to give those people credit."

Tacha raised three times as much money as Flory did, but it is Flory who will move on to face Democrat Ken Grotewiel, who recently moved to the county and is former state legislator in the Wichita area.

Grotewiel defeated longtime Lawrence teacher Clenece Hills in the Democratic primary for the 3rd District commission seat.

"I appreciate the voters willing to take a chance on me," said Grotewiel, a former administrator with the Kansas Water Office. "I'm an optimistic person, and I have a history of tackling problems."

The district includes western Lawrence and the western portion of the county. Jere McElhaney, who did not seek re-election, currently holds that seat.

A Grotewiel-Flory match-up in the Nov. 4 general election will be a face-off between two candidates with vast political experience in the state. Both said Tuesday night they hope to continue in the coming weeks to educate voters on their own strengths.

In the races for the 2nd district commission seat, Democrat Nancy Thellman, a Presbyterian minister, coasted to win 75 percent of the vote over Ken Adkinson, a retired owner and manager of a crop-production business in Eudora.

Thellman said she was nervous until she saw the final results and credited Adkinson's work on the campaign trail. But she said she benefited from her work in the last year with Citizens for Responsible Planning to oppose an airport business park proposal.

"Environmental issues really are resonating with people," said Thellman, who lives in rural Lawrence.

She said the general election campaign will likely involve more discussion about issues in the county.

Her opponent will be David L. Brown, a retired Douglas County Sheriff's officer and political newcomer who defeated Grant Eichhorn, a member of the Lawrence Douglas County Planning Commission.

"I think my hardest (challenge) was face and name recognition. A lot of people knew David Brown, but they didn't know David Brown was running for county commission," he said.

Brown also ended up winning comfortably, 67 percent to 32 percent.

The seat is currently held by Bob Johnson, who did not seek re-election. The district includes North Lawrence, southeastern Lawrence, Eudora, Baldwin City and the eastern portion of the county.

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