Last update: 9:36 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1
As unofficial final results were handed out for the Lawrence City Commission and school board primary races, multiple candidates emphasized the importance of their strategy as they advance to the general election in November: interacting directly with voters.
Mike Dever, a former city commissioner, led the race for the three city commission seats on the ballot, followed by the three incumbents running for reelection: Brad Finkeldei, Amber Sellers and Courtney Shipley.
Dustin Stumblingbear and Justine O. Burton rounded out the top six in the city commission race. Those six will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.
Incumbent Shannon Kimball and newcomer Ariel Miner led by a wide margin in the race to advance to the general election for a two-year term on the Lawrence school board.
Sellers, who finished third in the unofficial final city commission results, said that although her second primary campaign started slower, as she tried to raise more awareness about the primary vote among community members, her campaign was always centered on one focus.
“We never wavered on what the goal of the campaign was,” Sellers said. “We didn’t waver from our strategy. We’ve always been about the people.”
She talked about knocking doors, talking with the community and other ways her campaign has worked to interact directly with voters.
“Moving forward into the general we’re going to keep doing what we do, which is talking to folks and finding more folks to talk to,” Sellers said, “and be able to get the message out that people have a candidate that is focused on getting us towards solutions.”
Finkeldei’s reaction to advancing was similar.
“I appreciate everyone coming out to vote in this important election,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to talk with the voters as we move into the general election in November.”
Kimball said that in her conversations with the community during her campaign, she’s heard messages of support after a term that involved the school board making multiple difficult budget cut decisions, including closing two elementary schools.
She said she hopes to be able to continue to have the tough conversations needed to push the district toward its goals, such as increasing staff pay and addressing students’ individual needs.
“We’re poised to continue making progress in meeting each student’s needs that we’re seeing, both academically and behaviorally,” Kimball said. “I’m looking forward to continuing the campaign and talking to voters about the good work I’ve been doing on the board.”
Miner, who is running as a part of Kansans United for Public Schools, a collection of four local school board candidates, finished in second for the two-year school board seat, advancing her to the general election where she will face Kimball.
“The team behind me is full of hope and we will continue to connect with families to ensure that all voters know what’s at stake as we move closer to the general election,” Miner said in a statement. “I look forward to communicating further with our families, our teachers, our staff, and our community members as we continue our campaign to strengthen public schools.”
The Nov. 7 general election will decide five total Lawrence school board seats: the two-year term as well as four four-year terms. Read more about that and see who’s running at lawrencekstimes.com/election2023.
Tuesday night’s numbers will be incomplete; elections staff will still need to count provisional ballots and advance ballots that qualify. Election results are unofficial until the canvass on Monday, Aug. 14.
Turnout in odd-year primaries tends to be around 10% of registered voters, according to Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew. In Tuesday’s election, about 10.3% of registered voters cast ballots, but the total of 7,068 ballots cast was nearly 450 more than in the 2017 and 2021 primaries, which both saw 6,626.
Here’s the turnout by polling place as of the 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. checks:20230801-Turnout
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Cuyler Dunn (he/him), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a student at the University of Kansas School of Journalism. He is a graduate of Lawrence High School where he was the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Budget, and was named the 2022 Kansas High School Journalist of the Year. Read more of his work for the Times here.