by Ivan Foley
A platform of re-prioritizing county tax dollars and focusing on maintenance of existing parks worked for two newcomers in races for the two associate county commission positions at Tuesday’s Republican primary election.
In district one, Dagmar Wood edged incumbent Beverlee Roper by 95 votes, winning 2031 to 1936, a margin of 51% to 49%.
The second district race was not close. John Elliott easily defeated two opponents, Jason Buckley and Vic Perrin. Elliott had 2482 votes to 1024 for Buckley and 507 for Perrin. Elliott pulled 62% of the vote.
The second district spot is currently held by Duane Soper, who did not seek reelection.
“Property taxes was the big issue,” Wood said Tuesday night at a watch party in Zona Rosa. She said as she went door to door in the district “I didn’t even have to mention that (Roper) raised the tax levy. People are really hurting with property taxes. When I mentioned that I wasn’t gong to raise their property taxes and am hopefully going to bring those down, it really stuck with people.”
Though she has knocked off the incumbent, Wood it appears will still face a challenge in the general election in November. Andy Smith this week filed a petition that, if certified by election officials, will put his name on the November ballot against Wood as an independent.
Reached by phone Wednesday morning, Smith said he turned in a petition with 776 signatures of voters prior to Monday’s deadline. The magic number of signatures he needs to be certified, according to the board of elections, is 459. That number represents two percent of the total number of ballots cast in the last election for the first district commission spot, which was in 2012.
Smith said his campaign would focus on three areas, including doing a better job of maintaining parks facilities, long range planning for the county and helping the sheriff’s department maintain deputies.
As for parks, Smith said: “We need to maintain what we have and maybe not build at such a fast rate. We have a great park system and I want to see us take care of what’s there.”
The board of elections will begin working to certify the signatures and the election ballot will become official later this month, said Wendy Flanigan, a director for the board of elections.
In the second district, Elliott, whose campaign slogan is “lower taxes, higher accountability,” said the concerns he heard from voters as his campaign knocked on 5,500 doors dealt with roads, law enforcement and parks.
“In the northern part of the district, it’s roads and law enforcement and in the south it’s taxes and parks and recreation. They want to protect the parks. So we’re going to protect the parks--I’ve always said we are going to maintain the parks exceptionally well,” Elliott said Tuesday night from the watch party he shared with Wood.
Elliott has promoted turning the focus of the parks department from one of building additional facilities to a maintenance mode. He proposes restructuring the current half cent sales tax for parks into a sales tax that would put a quarter cent to parks and a quarter cent to law enforcement.
“The former parks director said maintaining the current parks facilities can be done with $2 million per year. With a restructured tax, parks will get $4 million per year. I think $4 million covers $2 million very well,” he said.
Elliott’s primary win puts him on the November ballot against Democrat John Fairfield, who was not opposed in that party’s primary. Fairfield is a former city councilman for Kansas City.
“It will be a spirited campaign with a stark contrast in opposing positions and issues,” Elliott said.
Asked what he knows about his general election opponent, Elliott responded: “I know I’m a conservative, I know he’s a liberal. I know I’m for lower taxes, he is for higher taxes. I’m for smaller government, he is for bigger government.”
Elliott said Fairfield’s intent would be to focus on what is best for Kansas City, not necessarily Platte County.
“My fear is that he’s just trying to continue his time on the city council by continuing unfinished city projects and he’ll be after a massive transfer of tax dollars from Platte County to the city of Kansas City,” he remarked, saying he believes Fairfield will want to take county road tax dollars and use them on Kansas City streets to go in at Twin Creeks, for instance.
In the only other locally contested spot in the primary, Republican incumbent Kevin Corlew was victorious in his race. Corlew defeated challenger Sean Pouche in District 14 in southern Platte County by a count of 1929 to 1220, 61% to 39%.
In the general election in November, Corlew will be challenged by Democrat Martin T. Rucker.
Platte County voters followed the statewide trend in the Republican governor’s race, preferring Eric Greitens with 37%, John Brunner 24%, Peter Kinder 20% and Catherine Hanaway with 19%.
Greitens won statewide and will face Chris Koster in the November general.
Local voters preferred Bev Randles of Clay County for lieutenant governor, as she carried 51% in Platte County over 44% for Mike Parson. But Parson won the race statewide.
For secretary of state, Platte Countians liked Jay Ashcroft with 64% to 31% for Will Kraus. Ashcroft won statewide.
Local voters followed the trend in the state attorney general race, preferring Josh Hawley with 67% to Kurt Schaefer’s 33%.
For detailed results on Platte County’s election, go to http://www.plattemovotes.org/results.
Voter turnout in Platte County was 21%. Officials had predicted only a 16% turnout.