Challenger Jose “Beto” Lopez appears to have unseated incumbent Diane Seif on the Lee’s Summit City Council during Tuesday’s election, but the margin is so slight — a mere five votes — that a recount has been scheduled for Monday.
According to the Jackson County Election Board’s elecition night results, which accounts for absentee ballots, Lopez received 1,106 votes in the District 3 race. Seif, who won her 2014 race against Joe Spallo by a 15-point margin, received 1,101 votes.
“I’m blown away by that margin, but one thing, as a challenger, I told all of our supporters is that every vote counts,” Lopez said. “I know that’s a cliché that people use during elections, but this is a perfect example, a real-life example, that it’s very accurate.”
There also were four write-in votes.
Lopez credited first-time voters and others spurred to see change in the community for supporting his campaign and turning out in just enough numbers to win with 50.02 percent of the vote.
“It’s democracy at its best,” said Lopez, who works in the banking industry. “… And I am very confident I am the right person to help lead our city in the right direction, not just for my term of four years but for the next 10 or 15 years.”
Reached by the Journal on Tuesday night,
Seif said she had no comment about the possibility to requesting a recount Tuesday night after the election, but Jackson County Election Board Director Tammy Brown confirmed Thursday in an email to the Journal that the recount would take place first thing next week.
“Being that close, I’m a little cautious, but obviously those are official numbers and, with today’s technology, I know it’s very accurate the way they calculate those,” Lopez said.
His presumed victory wasn’t the only highly intriguing city council race.
For the second straight election, Diane Forte prevailed head-to-head against challenger Robert Dye in District 1.
She also defeated Dye during the 2014 election, but the result — Forte received more than 54 percent of the vote, down from nearly 69 percent four years ago, in winning by a 165-vote margin — was much closer in the rematch.
It was a campaign that turned personal as Dye attacked Forte’s character, stemming from no-bid contracts that exceeded $500 her trophy company executed for Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation.
“It was hard,” Forte said. “It was very difficult at times. It was hard not to take some things personally, even though you knew that they weren’t really truthful. But you still wondered what people that didn’t know me felt.”
The contracts did not violate city policy at the time, but state law required public bidding for the work. As a result, Forte was fined $387 by the Missouri Ethics Commission, but the city council declined to pursue further sanctions.
“It did have an effect (on how close the election was), so it’s up to me to prove to those people that I’m not that person that he portrayed me to be,” Forte said.
Fellow incumbent Trish Carlyle won reelection in District 2. She received more than 55 percent of the vote in a comfortable win against challenger John Elkin.
In District 4 where two seats were up for grabs, Bob Johnson was returned to the city council after defeating Donna Gordon by a nearly 19-percent margin for a four-year and Fred DeMoro will continue to serve out the remaining two years of former council member Chris Moreno’s term.
Johnson — a former home-builder, who spent 12 years on the city council before being term-limited in 2016 — won an open seat, because Dave Mosby was ineligible for reelection due to his own term limits.
Among other political experience, Johnson also previously served on the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District board and in the Missouri House of Representative and Missouri Senate.
That experience undoubtedly played a role his more than 400-vote landslide win with 59.19 percent of the vote.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome and anxious to get back to the council level,” Johnson said. “Anymore, it seems to me that the quality of life is determined by local governments, not state governments and certainly not the federal government. That’s why I think it’s important.”
DeMoro, who was appointed last spring after Moreno was recalled from the city council, nipped challenger Casey Crawford by fewer than 30 votes.
Despite the razor-thin margin of DeMoro’s 1.28-percent win — he received 1,107 votes compared with 1,079 for Crawford in a race that included eight write-ins — the city won’t perform a recount unless Crawford agrees to foot the bill.
Finally, Dana Altieri, who was unopposed, was reelected as a Lee’s Summit Municipal Judge in Division 243.
Incumbents prevail in Greenwood
Running unopposed, Levi Weaver was reelected as Greenwood’s mayor.
Voters also returned Diane Orsita to the city’s board of aldermen from Ward 1 and Kyron McClure from Ward 2. Orsita received nearly 60 percent of the vote in a three-way race and McClure received more than 73 percent of votes in a three-way race.