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Write-in candidate wins seat on NKC council

Updated: 2013-04-06T00:10:05Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

A write-in candidate posted a razor-thin victory this week over the lone person listed on the ballot for a North Kansas City council seat, election authorities said Friday.

And he beat the incumbent to boot — a feat that city officials say they haven’t seen for decades.

Former council member Thomas Farr edged Denise Lambert 72-71 to represent Ward 4, according to results certified Friday by the Clay County Board of Election Commissioners.

“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Farr said. “People are telling me I pulled off a feat that nobody could remember the last time it happened.”

Lambert said she will seek a recount.

“I have had a number of supporters contact me … and I believe that it is in their best interest that I request that,” she said.

The opposition focused on what should be done with the city-owned North Kansas City Hospital, Lambert said, while she touted the city’s recent successes.

Last summer, the City Council approved hiring an investment bank to look at options for selling the hospital amid concerns over how it would fare under the new federal health care law. Hospital leaders rejected those concerns and indicated the facility would do well.

The council’s action angered many residents who say the hospital is a community asset that initially was aided with property taxes and bonds. The hospital is self-sustaining, and it claims the city’s involvement is limited to appointing trustees. The city recently expanded the hospital’s board.

“There has been a good deal of money spent on negative campaigning (about the hospital), and I believe that instills fear in people,” Lambert said.

Farr opposed the council’s actions. He served seven years as a trustee but was not reappointed when his term recently expired. Before that, he served nine years on the City Council. Lambert defeated him two years ago in a City Council primary election.

Farr opted to run as a write-in candidate shortly after he was not reappointed to the hospital board. Three other people also filed as write-in candidates.

“I think it is simply amazing. I can’t believe it,” Farr said. “I had a 10-day campaign, and to win by one vote — somebody was looking after me, that’s all I can say.”

To reach Glenn Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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