Brandau-Murguia, a KCK fixture, is knocked off the UG Commission in a major upset

In a major upset in Wyandotte County, political newcomer Christian Ramirez defeated long-time Unified Government Commissioner Ann Brandau-Murguia in their contest for Kansas City, Kansas’ 3rd District.

Ramirez, a Rosedale resident and employee for Johnson County Parks and Recreation, won with 54% of the vote to Brandau-Murguia’s 45%, according to unofficial results.

Brandau-Murguia was one of Kansas City, Kansas’ best known politicans, both for reasons good and bad.

As former director of Argentine Neighborhood Development Association (ANDA), Brandau-Murguia took credit for the development of new infrastructure, retail and housing in the Argentine neighborhood. But she also faced criticism for using political office to further her own interests, those of her allies as well as ANDA, from which she stepped down a year ago.

Brandau-Murguia isn’t entirely out of public office; she has a term on the Kansas Board of Regents that expires in 2021.

Brandau-Murguia was the only incumbent among the four UG commissioners who faced competitive elections on Tuesday’s general election, in which 16% of registered voters cast a ballot.

In the 1st District at-large, Melissa Bynum defeated challenger Mark Gilstrap for the second election in a row, picking up 67% of the vote to Gilstrap’s 33%. Bynum touted her work on passing the Northeast Master Plan as a guide for developing one of Kansas City, Kansas’ most impoverished communities as a major accomplishment in her first term. Gilstrap, a former Kansas state senator, ran against Bynum in 2015 and lost.

In the 4th District, Harold Johnson won another four years, decisively defeating challenger Jorge Flores by a 68-32% margin. Johnson, first elected in 2015, was involved with Bynum in the development of the Northeast Master Plan.

In the 6th District, which covers south central KCK, Angela Markley returns for a third term. She won with 64% of the vote, compared to challenger Diana Aguirre’s 35%.

The Board of Public Utilities, the ratepayer-owned electric and water utility, will see a new face.

Rose Mulvaney Henry narrowly defeated David Haley in the race for the 3rd position at-large race, winning by 44 votes in a contest where 12,064 ballots were cast. Assuming the result stands, Mulvaney Henry will replace Norm Scott, who lost in the primary.

Bob Milan retains his BPU Position 1 seat after defeating LaRon Thompson 52-48.

Voters returned Jeff Bryant to the BPU. He kept his Position 3 seat by defeating Kansas state Rep. Stan Frownfelter 56-44.

In another county-wide race, Nancy Burns was handily re-elected as the register of deeds.

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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.