Wyandotte County voters took to the voting booths Tuesday to decide races for city and county government, three school boards and other positions.
Who would be elected to fill the 1st District at-large seat on the Unified Government Board of Commissioners was the most pivotal race.
No matter how it turned out, voters went in knowing that simply by casting ballots, they would banish gridlock in their combined city and county government.
The seat has gone unfilled since Mark Holland vacated the nonpartisan position in 2013. Issues have been left undecided because of a 5-5 split on the commission, including the issue of who should fill Holland’s seat. Two differing factions are led by Holland and Ann Murguia.
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In complete but unofficial returns, Melissa Brune Bynum beat Mark Gilstrap, 52 percent to 40 percent.
Both candidates cited property tax relief as a major issue. Gilstrap, a former Republican state senator backed by Murguia, said the current board has not done enough to lower the levy by diverting sales tax proceeds generated by commercial development around the Kansas Speedway.
Bynum, a neighborhood activist who also is director of the Shepherd’s Center in Kansas City, Kan., and a Holland supporter, said she would work with fellow commissioners to find ways to bring down the levy.
Both candidates also favored using some of the millions in new tax dollars out west to step up redevelopment in older parts of Kansas City, Kan., predominantly east of Interstate 635.
Murguia and two other incumbents ran unopposed for re-election to the Unified Government board. A fourth, Tarence Maddox, faced a tough fight to retain his 4th District seat after a series of incidents that resulted in his censure.
Maddox was convicted of disorderly conduct after throwing a fit caught on camera at Legoland in 2013. Later, a police dashcam video showed Maddox threatening to sic “the black mafia” on a driver he suspected of following him, telling police, “I could’ve had somebody come out and pop him.”
Maddox lost to Harold Johnson, a pastor and former banker. Johnson had 56 percent of the vote and Maddox 44.
In other contested races, Chris McCord and Norman D. Scott faced off to fill the at-large seat on the Board of Public Utilities that was held by Terry Eidson, who died in January.
Scott had 50 percent of the vote to McCord’s 49 percent. Out of about 8,400 ballots cast, just 97 votes separated them.
In the 1st District BPU race, incumbent Robert Milan Sr. beat challenger Freddy Wilson Jr., 63 percent to 36 percent.