Voters in the Douglas County Commission’s 1st District chose incumbent Patrick Kelly over Dustin Stumblingbear as the Democrat who will advance to the November general election.
Kelly will face Republican Justin Spiehs and Libertarian Steve Jacobs on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“We put a lot of work into a campaign, and I’m proud of the work that I’ve done for Douglas County. But there’s still work to do,” he said. “I’ll continue to visit with people all over Douglas County, but specifically District 1. I really enjoy campaigning, I enjoy going door to door and talking to people and hearing what their questions or concerns are.”
Elected to the commission for a four-year term in 2018, Kelly is chief academic officer for Lawrence Public Schools and serves as vice chair on the three-member commission.
The 1st District is geographically the smallest of the county’s three districts. In November, Douglas County voters will decide whether the commission should expand to five districts.
Kelly said in July while responding to a primary election questionnaire he wouldn’t take a position on whether the commission should expand; he instead pointed out how the change could affect the commission quorum, citizen representation and the county’s finances. He said Tuesday night his approach had not changed.
“I think everybody just needs to get educated about it. I think it’s important that whether it’s five commissioners or three commissioners, I’m going to have to work with two or four, depending on the situation. So I think it’s important that I keep my own personal feelings about it and be happy to work with whoever’s there.”
Kelly acknowledged his professional work environment and time on the commission had been difficult at times during the COVID-19 pandemic and budget challenges, but he was up to the task if re-elected.
“I really enjoy helping people solve problems and helping people articulate their aspirations and think how we might get to that space. And I think that’s an important part of leadership, listening to people, hearing what they value, what they’re loyal to, and then determining, is there a way to that and what do we have to give up to get there? And I really enjoy that whether it’s at the school district level or in the county.”
Stumblingbear did not return emails seeking comment. Kelly said he appreciated Stumblingbear’s willingness to run.
“I know he has a lot of aspirations to be involved in our community, and I hope he will continue to do that,” Kelly said.
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Tricia Masenthin (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at tmasenthin (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.