Elections have ways of proving the experts wrong.
That’s what happened Tuesday in several Kansas City area elections. Here are a few examples of how things didn’t turn out as pundits might have predicted.
Conventional wisdom: Higher taxes are dead on arrival in these tight times.
Voters didn’t think so, and fortunately so, for the Independence School District.
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Instead, 65 percent of them approved a tax levy increase of 24 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to fund capital improvements and to reduce the student-teacher ratio in the district. Independence isn’t an area overflowing with money, but residents properly decided to invest more in their K-12 education system.
Conventional wisdom: Johnson County is tilting to the right.
In general, that’s more true than it was in the past, when moderate forces were more in control of school boards and the U.S. congressional seat. However, on Tuesday, voters properly rejected several candidates who appeared to be unsupportive of providing high-quality education to Johnson Countians.
Ultra-conservative Patricia Lightner lost in her race to be a trustee for the Johnson County Community College. Plus, pro-education candidates won seats on the Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley and Olathe school boards.
It was a much-needed decent day for K-12 education in the county after months of bad news about budget cutbacks and other anti-school news emanating from Topeka, where Gov. Sam Brownback and the GOP-controlled Legislature hold sway.
Conventional wisdom: Negative ads work.
Thankfully, they didn’t in a key Kansas City Council primary.
Former fire union president Louie Wright used odious political consultant Jeff Roe and his group, Axiom Strategies, to try to unseat incumbent Dick Davis in the 1st District in-district race.
But Davis edged Wright by 32 votes in unofficial results to grab second place behind winner Heather Hall, sending them through to the June 23 general election.
In other Roe-related news, three additional council candidates who said they had hired Axiom Strategies all failed to finish first on Tuesday.
Jay Hodges was second in the 2nd District at-large race, and faces Teresa Loar in the general election. Dee Evans, who suspended her campaign, placed out of the top two in the 3rd District at-large contest. John Fierro finished far behind winner Jolie Justus in the 4th District race, though both made the general election.
It’s good news that the Kansas City primaries did not include a lot of negative campaigning. That could change in the general, of course. Voters will have to watch for the often-anonymous attack ads in at least a handful of potentially close council contests.
Conventional wisdom: Jermaine Reed isn’t popular in urban neighborhoods.
Opponents Jamekia Kendrix, Bryan Dial and Rachel Riley all made that point during the primary campaign for Kansas City’s 3rd District in-district seat. Reed, the incumbent, is too aloof and doesn’t relate well to lower-income residents who have all kinds of needs, went the criticism.
But as they say in sports, check out the scoreboard.
Reed got 57 percent of the vote in the five-candidate primary. In the general election, he will face Kendrix, a personable and energetic candidate who received 17.5 percent of the vote. She will have one more chance to prove 3rd District voters want a change at City Hall.
Conventional wisdom: Mayor Sly James can’t be beat.
Actually, James did roar to an easy primary victory over unknown political candidate Vincent Lee (who will join James in the general election) and light-rail activist Clay Chastain. Oh, and James will win in June, too.
Sometimes, conventional wisdom and the experts get one right.