Over 4,000 votes cast in general election
According to the Barton County Clerk’s office, out of the 17,357 eligible voters in the county, 4,141 cast ballots. That makes for a voter turnout of 23.86 percent.
However, these are preliminary numbers, the clerk’s office notes. The vote count will be finalized after the Barton County Commission canvasses the ballots Monday morning.
As of Tuesday night, political newcomer Joe Andrasek won the Great Bend mayoral race, surpassing Brock McPherson and Allene Owen, both of who are currently on the City Council.
In the preliminary vote totals posted by the Barton County Clerk’s Office, Andrasek received 1,421 votes, Fourth Ward council member McPherson 955 and Third Ward council member Owen 443. There were also 24 write-in votes.
The vote count will be finalized after the Barton County Commission canvasses the ballots Monday morning. If the numbers stand, Andrasek will be sworn in along with the newly elected council members on Jan. 8, 2018.
“I knew it was going to be a tough,” Andrasek said. “It was a tough race and I am surprised that I won. But, I’m excited.”
The controversy surrounding now resigned Police Chief Clifton Couch and various city officials, including now retired City Administrator Howard Partington and Mayor Mike Allison, has hung over the city. But, that’s not what lured Andrasek to make his run.
“When I decided to run, it was before this all happened,” he said. “I wondered if I made the right decision.”
However, as things played out, he felt he made the right move.
“I want some change,” he said. “I wanted a new outlook on things.”
“I didn’t know I could pull this off,” Andrasek said. Now, he plans on being approachable and respectful of other points of view.
“Now, my goal is to move forward and see what everyone’s points of view are,” he said. “This is the same as with any successful business and team. We have to get together as a team and move forward as team.”
Sure, there will be disagreements, he said. “We will have to agree to disagree.”
Andrasek is a lifelong resident of Great Bend. Graduating from Great Bend High School in 1991. A single father of five children, with three still of the home. Andrasek started his first business in Great Bend in 2003. He and a partner have since started two other businesses in 2009 and again in 2013.
As for the other candidates, Owen said she is now looking to the future.
“I will give 100 percent to the council,” she said. “I appreciate the dedication of the citizens of Great Bend and those who voted.
“My love is still for Great Bend,” she said. “Now, we move forward.”
Owen, a member of the community for 28 years, is serving her sixth term as council member.
McPherson, a long-time Great Bend attorney, had no comment.
Back in May, Allison announced he would not seek reelection this November. He has been mayor since 1999.
Allison is currently in his ninth two-year term which would have expired in April. But the Kansas Legislature in 2015 moved the dates on which cities hold their elections from April to November so, he will be in office through this fall.