This story has been updated to include statements from Carl Harper and Wood Heights Fire Protection District Chief Lee O'Dell
Tuesday's Excelsior Springs Municipal Election contained some upsets and also cemented other's victories to serve another term.
Excelsior Springs City Council member Brent McElwee held onto his seat, receiving 55.19 percent of the Clay County votes. Challenger Thomas Shue came in second with 24.72 percent of the vote, edging out challenger Carl Harper, who received 19.56 percent of the 1,319 votes cast in Clay County.
On the Ray County side of Excelsior, McElwee received 22 of the 32 votes cast, sealing his victory.
McElwee said he appreciated those who supported him in his bid to retain his seat.
“I hope to see more changes in Excelsior Springs going forward,” he said. “I think Excelsior has a lot of things (that are) positive going for it and I see all kinds of opportunities yet to be had. So, I look forward to doing it.”
Harper said while he sends his congratulations to McElwee, he hopes Shue runs again because, "something must be done," concerning the council.
Shue said he plans to keep running each year until he earns a seat on the City Council.
“I’m not going to give up until I can put to rest my mind that … there’s nothing wrong going on behind closed doors, that the intentions of this panel of people are solely for the benefit of the community and the people they represent,” he said. “Until I can put that behind me, I can't just sit on the sidelines and complain without being willing to step up to the plate and take care of what I think needs to be done, which is transparency, term limits and benefits for growth for everyone, not just a handful of people.
The Excelsior Springs Board of Education gained a new member as challenger Kalyn Goode received 1,195 votes. She edged out incumbent Darren McKown by only six votes to earn the second seat on the school board.
After Clay County results came in, Goode said she wanted to thank all those who voted for her.
“Hopefully, I can do everything that is expected of me and make a big difference for our kids, she said.
Current board president Tray Harkins held onto his seat on the school board, receiving 1,301 total votes in Clay and Ray Counties.
Harkins said he experienced mixed emotions with his re-election and the failure of Proposition A, a bond to build new schools in the district.
“I’m excited that I retained my seat and get to serve another three years, but I’m disappointed that we didn’t pass Prop A,” he said. “I mean, that was kind of the whole goal.”
Although Clay County votes passed Prop A with 60.89 percent of the vote, a push from Ray County voters upset the victory. While Homestead Village voted in favor of Prop A, 132 to 113, only 224 of Wood Heights voters said yes compared to 322 votes in opposition. This helped lower the total yes vote to 55.35 percent, just shy of the 57.124 percent needed to pass.
A statement provided by Excelsior Springs School District Deputy Superintendent Jaret Tomlinson said the district believes they have an outstanding plan and wish to thank the community for their support.
"We learned many things and we will regroup as our students deserve quality learning facilities and programming," the statement said. "This is a great district with excellent staff and a quality school board! We will work to bring a revised plan before voters in an upcoming election."
The district also wished to congratulate Harkins and Goode for their victories.
In the Wood Heights’ mayor race, challenger Frank J. Davitt bested incumbent Robert Pettegrew with 62.78 percent of the 223 votes cast.
Katherine I. Hart and Rick Downs received 42.81 and 36.88 percent of the votes respectively for the two Wood Heights Alderman At Large seats, securing their victory over Kelly Leroy.
The City of Wood Heights Proposition One, to raise funds for capital improvement projects, lost at the polls with 65.07 percent of the vote. Proposition Two, for the operation of Wood Height's public safety departments, also lost commandingly with 69.60 percent.
Wood Heights Fire District Proposition 1, to provide funds for a fully staffed and manned fire protection district base failed, receiving 315 yes votes to 471 no votes.
Chief Lee O'Dell said they plan to re-evaluate how to educate those who voted no on how the tax will benefit them.
"We are not going to stop trying to get the levy, but rather (we) need to see how we can get more citizens to understand the true costs of the levy vs. what they think it will be," he said. "Taxes are hard to get passed but that is our only way of (raising) income to improve services."
He said the current budget does not contain the funds to make needed equipment purchases, including aging trucks needing replacement. He said the department purchased their newest truck 14 years ago and the oldest 33 years ago.
"These vehicles actually cost us more to keep maintained than they are worth, but we have to have every truck running at all times," he said. "For those that supported the proposition, please stand by while we re-evaluate and find a way to get more yes votes than no votes on the next election we place it on."