Marilyn Pearse appears to have won a return to public life after narrowly defeating Jason Mock in the contest for Baldwin City mayor.
A member of the Baldwin City Council for 16 years before stepping down in 2005, Pearse received 235 votes to Mock’s 222 in unofficial results from Tuesday’s election. Bonnie Plumberg, like Mock a current council member, was third with 99 votes.
Deputy County Clerk Benjamin Lampe said there were 20 provisional ballots to be counted in the three Baldwin City precincts, enough to change the results if they swing big to Mock. Those would be counted during the remainder of this week and early next week before the official results were released after an April 11 canvas.
Should results hold up, Mock, who has two years left on his council term, will be joined on the council by first-time candidates Kathy Gerstner and Christi Darnell. Grestner received the most votes in the race for the two open council seats with 408 votes and Darnell was second with 329 votes. Another first-time candidate, Michael Paulick, received 161 votes.
Pearse, an owner of a Lawrence accounting firm, said she thought voters responded to her past experience on the council and financial background.
“I had a lot of support from businesses and from people in town,” she said. “It’s been really nice. I’m excited to get to work.”
Mayor Ken Wagner, who chose not to seek another term, said he would meet with the mayor-elect to help with the transition.
“I have told all three candidates individually that I would be happy to help in whatever way I can as they settle into the new role,” he said.
Gerstner and Darnell expressed appreciation to Paulick for running and for his positive campaign.
“It’s really difficult to put yourself out there to be a candidate,” Gerstner said. “I really think that is true of all the races. I’m grateful for Michael for running.”
Darnell and Gerstner said they sensed a general satisfaction with the work of the current council and their election didn’t signal a need to change the city’s direction.
“I’m not a bulldozer,” Darnell said. “I’m a listener. I like to find what works and build on that. I think Kathy is the same way.
“I would like to thank voters for giving me this opportunity to serve. I will spend my term honoring their support and doing what I can to make Baldwin City a great place to live.”
When she announced her run for the council, Darnell said she would like some of the savings the city realized from its new wholesale water contract with Lawrence to be passed on to customers. It was an issue she would still pursue, she said.
“I plan to inform myself fully about our utilities and I want to share that fully with the public,” she said. ‘I want to share that at the library and social media so the rate structure will be clear and easily assessable. I would like to see that across the board.”
Pearse said before the election she wanted increased communication between the council and the school board. She suggested the council reschedule its meetings so they don’t conflict with those of the Baldwin school board. With that, she hoped a council member would attend school board meetings and board member the council’s meetings.
Darnell said she, too, wanted to see greater cooperation between the council and the board, as well as with other institutions through regularly scheduled inter-agency meetings.