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See where Lawrence City Commission, school board primary candidates fared best

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Both the Lawrence City Commission and Lawrence school board primary races showed east-west splits when looking at which candidate came in first place at each polling place.

The Douglas County clerk’s office on Friday released final unaudited vote totals. All mail ballots and provisional ballots that could be included have been added into the Election Night totals.

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Turnout in odd-year primaries tends to be around 10% of registered voters, according to Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew. With all ballots counted for Tuesday’s election, about 10.6% of registered voters participated. The total of 7,288 ballots cast this primary was 662 more than in the 2017 and 2021 primaries, which both saw 6,626. (See more from Election Night at this link and in this episode of Lawrence Times TV.)

The Nov. 7 general election is just more than three months away. Many things can change, and we’ll have a lot more reporting in the meantime, but here’s an early pulse from primary voters.

Reminders: Douglas County voters can check and update their voter registration, register to vote and/or request a ballot to be mailed to them at KSVotes.org. The last day to register to vote ahead of the Nov. 7 general election is Oct. 17. Early voting begins Oct. 18, and Oct. 31 is the deadline to request an advance ballot to be mailed to you.

Lawrence City Commission primary

Lawrence voters on Tuesday selected former commissioner Mike Dever, incumbents Brad Finkeldei, Amber Sellers, and Courtney Shipley, and candidates Dustin Stumblingbear and Justine Burton to advance to the Nov. 7 general. Candidates Joshua Olafson’s and Chris Flowers’ runs ended.

Ultimately, voters’ top three choices on Nov. 7 will be elected to the commission.

The 551 ballots added between Tuesday night and Friday barely changed the Lawrence City Commission race and did not affect the outcome. Sellers, Shipley and Dever saw the biggest gains, adding roughly 100 votes each.

Here are the final unaudited vote totals for the Lawrence City Commission primary (see Election Night results at this link):

Here’s how the Lawrence City Commission primary candidates fared by polling place:

However, at some of these locations, first- and second-place candidates were separated by just a handful of votes.

At several of the polling places with the greatest numbers of ballots cast and the highest turnout percentages, Dever led the race by dozens of votes — a margin of 74 at First Southern Baptist Church and 70 at the Golf Course Superintendents Association, for instance. He ended up 537 votes ahead of Finkeldei, who came in second.

Sellers, who came in third overall, won the greatest number of votes at several polling places but saw her greatest leads at Trinity Lutheran Church, with 31 votes, and at the East Lawrence Rec Center, with 18. Overall, Sellers trailed Dever by 853 votes and Finkeldei by 316.

Here are the full results by polling place.

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In case you missed it, here’s a look at the candidates’ funds raised during the primary. See more about this and check out the candidates’ complete finance reports in this article.

Lawrence school board primary (two-year term)

In this year’s school board election, five seats are on the ballot. Four of those seats are to serve four-year terms; there was no primary, so all nine candidates running for those seats advance to the Nov. 7 general election. Meet those candidates at this link.

The fifth seat is a special election to determine who will serve out the remaining two years of the term of former board member Andrew Nussbaum, who resigned in 2022.

Longtime incumbent board member Shannon Kimball and newcomer Ariel Miner have advanced from the four-way Aug. 1 primary, and voters will choose one of them to continue in the seat.

Candidate Justine Burton will not advance, nor will Tierra Teske, who was not actively running for the seat.

In Friday’s update in the race for the two-year Lawrence school board term, results moved by less than 1 percentage point from the Election Night totals. The additional ballots added 209 votes. Miner gained 99 of those votes, about 0.4% of the total votes. 

Here are the final unaudited vote totals for the Lawrence school board primary (see Election Night results at this link):

Here are the candidates’ victories by polling place.

The bounds of this map are a little broader for the school board race than the city map because the school district has broader boundaries. School districts do not align with city limits.

One of the most contentious issues for many voters has been the school board’s decision to close Broken Arrow and Pinckney elementary schools this year as well as Kennedy Elementary School in 2021.

Though Kimball topped Miner by 532 votes overall in the primary, the general election could be close as the grief of losing neighborhood schools has been an impetus for many voters to seek a change — particularly voters living in eastern and central Lawrence. The newcomer candidates who came in third and fourth received 1,061 votes together.

Kimball saw her greatest leads at the Golf Course Superintendents Association, with 252 votes over Miner, and Rev City Church, with 200. But at some of the more centrally located polling places, such as the Douglas County Human Services Building and University Community Church of Christ, Kimball led by 1 vote and 8 votes, respectively.

Miner saw her largest advantages at the Union Pacific Depot in North Lawrence, with 98 votes over Kimball, and Southside Church of Christ, with 60. She held a 9-vote lead over Kimball at the centrally located Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church.

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For reference, here’s a map from our March school closure coverage:

The other incumbents running for four-year terms are Carole Cadue-Blackwood and GR Gordon-Ross. Cadue-Blackwood voted against all three school closures; Gordon-Ross voted in favor of all three. Incumbents Paula Vann and Erica Hill are not running for reelection.

Here are the full school board primary results by polling place.

These election results are not official until they are audited. The audit will occur Monday, Aug. 14.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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