Post updated at 9:32 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8:
Douglas County Commissioner Patrick Kelly easily won a three-way race for the District 1 seat on Tuesday.
At the County Elections Office, he thanked the voters who “affirmed the good work I think I’ve done the past four years.”
“I think my type of leadership is to ask really tough questions and to not get seduced by a quick, easy fix,” he said. “That requires people to have faith in the experience I have, and I appreciate them recognizing that.”
Despite the runaway victory, Kelly, a Democrat, derided the “ugliness” of much of the campaign process.
“I put my faith in the democratic process that we have and that people would understand that inclusivity is more important than name-calling or marginalizing,” he said. “I think the Douglas County voters have made clear that’s an important thing. I hope the others on the ballot will hear that … and I hope the community will all act in a position of leadership to really think that we can hear each other’s different ideas without intimidation, without name-calling or just some of the things that we saw. And I think we’ve really got to expect better from all of our community members, especially those who are running for office.”
Kelly also addressed the fact that the size of the commission will be expanding to five members in the coming year.
“The big work is we’ve got to come up with five districts. And we have a very short timeline on that. January 1 is when we’re expected to have five districts,” he said. “So I really hope the community stays tuned as we start to do that work of showing some maps and what that looks like.”
The ultimate decision on the district maps is up to the county commission, but Kelly said he expects to have some form of public listening sessions as the work to draw those maps gets underway.
Douglas County Commission District 1:
In the race for District 1, incumbent Kelly faced Steve Jacob, a Libertarian, and Justin Spiehs, a Republican.
The 1st District is geographically the smallest commission district. It contains a large portion of central Lawrence. The district is not square, but its southernmost boundary is West 19th Street; its easternmost boundary is Massachusetts Street; one segment of the district reaches as far west as Wakarusa Drive; and an intricate boundary divides the northern side of town between the first, second and third districts.
Here are the latest results for this race, as reported by the Douglas County Elections Office:
Expansion to 5 commission districts
Some proponents in favor of expanding the Douglas County Commission to include five districts wanted increased representation for rural parts of Douglas County.
However, districts must be as close to each other in size and population as possible. Because of the way the population is dispersed within the county, any five districts will still include a portion of the city, and it is possible that all five elected commissioners could be Lawrence residents.
A “yes” vote to this question means the commission should expand to include five districts. New maps must be drawn by Jan. 1.
More election results and resources:
See full countywide results from the Douglas County elections office at this link.
See full statewide results as the Kansas secretary of state’s office receives them at this link.
The Kansas News Service is reporting statewide results coming in from AP at this link.
You can read AP news coverage of Kansas’ and other elections for free at this link.
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Conner Mitchell (he/him), reporter, can be reached at cmitchell (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-435-9264. If you have sensitive information to send Conner, please email connermitchell (at) protonmail (dot) com. Read more of his work for the Times here.