Clark, Straub to contest USD 232 at-large position
Election results from Tuesday’s primary
Experience counted at the polls Tuesday in the primary for the De Soto School Board. Three candidates with no prior experience were eliminated from the field, leaving four names on the ballot April 3.
Based on unofficial results reported by the Johnson County Election Office, the top two vote getters in Tuesday's primary were Don Clark and Kevin Straub for seat seven and Jim Thomas and Bob Dyche for seat two.
The at-large seat was the most highly contested with four candidates. Kasey Willnauer and Richard Brazukas were eliminated with 16 and 15 percent of the vote, respectively.
A total of 1,620 votes were cast for the at-large seat with Shawnee City Council member Kevin Straub receiving the most votes at 37 percent, beating out current school board president Don Clark who received 32 percent, a difference of 76 votes.
Straub said he looked forward to doing good things for the board. His campaign was run on fiscal responsibility. He said his number one priority would be a great education for students, followed by lowering the tax burden.
"I won't sacrifice a student's education to lower taxes," Straub said. "But I want to look out for taxpayers, too. I don't think there's a tax increase my opponent voted against."
The incumbent Clark said he was particularly impressed with the candidacy of recent De Soto High graduate Willnauer. Willnauer's theme of community involvement was one Clark said he would try to incorporate. When reached for comment, Willnauer thanked those who supported him and said he would not endorse Clark.
"Kevin Straub's heart and mind are in the right place," Willnauer said. "A lot of people are looking for a change. There needs to be a vision. That can be accomplished with new faces and new ideas."
Willnauer was particularly successful in De Soto where he won more votes than any other candidate. In the De Soto and Lexington Township precincts, Willnauer got 141 votes, Clark 120, Brazukas 103, and Straub 74. Clark said so far this has been a good race but he's ready to move on to real issues.
"So far the race has been a little too focused on the negatives," Clark said. "What it takes now is what you will do moving forward."
In regards to his second place finish, Clark said other candidates may have split the vote and that voters may not like first-place finisher Kevin Straub's plan to increase the size of Mill Valley High to 2,000 students. Straub was confident he would remain the victor in the regular election, saying those who voted for Willnauer and Brazukas would not be likely to vote for Clark.
Long-time incumbent William Waye will vacate School Board Position 2 at the end of his term in June. Former board member James Thomas received the most votes to take over the seat with 45 percent. Bob Dyche will advance to the primary with 36 percent of the vote. Eliminated was Donald Gentry, who received 19 percent.
After spending six years on the board ending in 2005, Thomas said it's harder than it looks and his experience should matter going into the general election.
"It took me a couple years to get used to the dynamic," Thomas said. "The only way you can accomplish anything is to make three other people agree with you."
Dyche said that while the name recognition of a former board member may be difficult to combat, he thinks people are looking for change.
"It's like facing an incumbent," Dyche said. "I need to get my name out there as a new direction rather than maybe what we had before."
The vote count is unofficial until it is canvassed 9 a.m. Friday at the Johnson County Election Office.