In Wyandotte County, commission incumbents cruise, but BPU board member stumbles


Incumbents on Tuesday survived primary challenges for three seats on the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas Commission, each advancing to November’s general election.

But some incumbents on the Board of Public Utilities didn’t fare so well; one won’t be returning to office after failing to place among the top two vote-getters in his race.

Turnout was 9.3%, according to unofficial results, below the 10% to 15% that the Wyandotte County Election Office had forecast last week.

Melissa Bynum, a UG commissioner who represents the 1st District at-large, will attempt to retain her seat Nov. 5 against former Kansas state Sen. Mark Gilstrap after each finished in the top two of a three-way primary. Bynum collected a commanding 58% of the vote, while Gilstrap fetched 29%. It makes for a rematch of the 2015 general election between Bynum and Gilstrap, which Bynum won easily. Steven James lost with 13%.

In the 3rd District, which covers primarily Argentine and Rosedale, Ann Brandau-Murguia will have an opportunity to seek a fourth term on the UG Commission after capturing 48.5% of the vote. She will go up against Christian Ramirez, who earned 29.7% of the votes cast. Libertarian Mary Gerlt lost with 21.7%

In the 4th District, which covers parts of downtown and the Northeast, incumbent Harold Johnson advanced out of the three-way primary by getting 41.9% of the vote. First elected in 2015, Johnson will face Jorge Flores in the general election. Flores got 30.9%. Tarence Maddox, who held the 4th District seat from 2011 to 2015, lost 27.2%.

Incumbent 6th District Commissioner Angela Markley, whose district includes Turner and parts of Argentine, will face challenger Diana Aguirre in November’s election. There was no primary in this district because there wasn’t a third candidate.

For the Board of Public Utilities, which provides water and electric service to Wyandotte County, two candidates emerged in each of three competitive primaries to compete in the November election.

Norm Scott, who was the incumbent in the 3rd position at-large race, will not return to office after finishing third in a six-way primary. Kansas state Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, was the top vote-getter in that race with 34.8% of the vote. He will face Rose Mulvany Henry, who got 15.5%.

Another BPU incumbent, Jeff Bryant, will have a fight on his hands to keep his seat. Bryant finished second in the BPU 3rd position race, well behind Kansas state Rep. Stand Frownfelter, D-Kansas City. Frownfelter got 39.3% of the vote in the four-way primary, while Bryant collected 28% of the vote.

For BPU’s 1st position, incumbent Robert Milan was the top finisher in a three-way race with 52.6% of the vote. Milan was first elected to the BPU in 1991. LaRon Thompson finished second with 30.8% of the vote.

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Steve Vockrodt is an award-winning investigative journalist who has reported in Kansas City since 2005. Areas of reporting interest include business, politics, justice issues and breaking news investigations. Vockrodt grew up in Denver and studied journalism at the University of Kansas.