By Kathy Crawford
The city of Tracy swore in a new mayor at the April 16 meeting after what has been a municipal election with many twists and turns, and more are on the horizon.
It appeared as though Brenda Ferguson, the incumbent mayor for six years, was running unopposed in the mayoral election. That is until board member Rita Rhoads declared herself as a write-in mayoral candidate at the last minute.
Rhoads won the election by a narrow margin: Rhoads, 27; Ferguson, 22.
That narrow margin might have been different, but Tracy residents wrote in an additional 19 votes for people who were not running for mayor. Consequently, about 40 percent of the votes cast for the mayor of Tracy did not count toward a legitimate candidate, making those votes useless.
Director Mary Beth Erickson of the Platte County Board of Elections said that every polling place has the declared write-in candidates available.
“A list of names is near the sample ballots,” said Erickson.
Two aldermen seats were also on the ballot. Three candidates Larry Hill, Bob Kaveler and Dolores McDonnell all filed to run in January. The incumbents, Larry Hill and Bob Kaveler, retained their two seats with Hill receiving 40 votes, and Kaveler garnering 38. McDonnell came in third with 24 votes.
Two more candidates filed much later as write-ins for the open seats on the board: Kelly Green and Aaron Bryant. Green received five votes and Bryant had three. Again, voters cast ballots for an additional seven write-ins who were not running for a seat on the board, making those votes useless.
Now that Rhoads has won the mayoral election, a third seat on the board is open to fill the one she vacated. Rhoads said that she makes a recommendation to the board, which currently only has three members, and the board votes to appoint someone to fill the vacant seat until the election next April.
Rhoads said that current board members “have been throwing” the idea around. However, the board did not have any open deliberation about the appointment during the April 16 meeting. Rhoads said she intends to make her recommendation at the May meeting.
“I wanted to see who would show up at the (April) meeting and show interest,” said Rhoads. Bryant attended the April meeting, and Rhoads said she thinks she will recommend him to fill the empty seat on the board, despite the fact that 24 voters chose McDonnell at the polls compared to only three voters who favored Bryant.
McDonnell said she knew that since Rhoads won the mayor's seat the board would need another member to fill the vacant seat.
“No one has called me,” said McDonnell. “I was expecting them to, but I never did hear from anyone.
The issue of having only three board members has already caused gridlock at the April meeting. The three board members could not reach a consensus between one of two mowing bids. The use of pesticides and proof of licensing were the points of contention.
City attorney Lisa Rehard told board members that they could accept a bid contingent upon licensing proof, but Alderman Bob Kaveler stood his ground and voted no to accepting either bid. Rehard said that the board had no choice but to table the issue until the May meeting because a majority vote was not possible.
Resident Bobby Roediger raised the concern that the grass will be very high by mid-May, which did not change the vote.
However, the board did vote to change the signatories for the city's bank accounts, taking Ferguson off and putting alderwoman Julie Thomas on. It is protocol for the president of the board to be a signatory, but the board is currently without a president. Rhoads was the president, so the board will need to elect a new one. Despite the lack of deliberation at the open meeting on the subject, it appears that the board intends to elect Thomas as the new president of the board.