Oroke eager for another term on county commission
The margin separating the vote totals of a local Republican and Democrat running for the third district Leavenworth County Commission was slim Tuesday night -- maybe not Ohio slim -- but the difference between winning and losing was close nonetheless.
It was nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday before the totals of all 10 third district voting precincts were reported. And once the dust settled, Dean Oroke, a Tonganoxie Republican, was declared winner by fewer than 200 votes.
According to final-but-unofficial results from the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office, Oroke earned 5,043 votes against Democratic challenger Jerry Willburn's 4,845 votes. The votes will not be finalized until Monday, when the votes will be canvassed by the current Leavenworth County commission.
The totals secured a return bid to the county commission for Oroke.
"I told my wife it was either going to be really close or a blowout," said Oroke, a county commissioner from 1985 to 1989. "I thought close would have been 300 to 400. But, a win's a win."
Oroke replaces fellow Republican Joe Daniels as Third District commissioner. Daniels did not seek a second term. Tuesday night, two-thirds of the three-member county commission was overhauled; first district representative Don Navinsky will be the lone holdover when the new commissioners take office on Jan. 10.
Oroke said he was surprised at the strong voter turnout in the Third District race and that his Tuesday night vote total was the highest he'd ever received.
"Some places had a one-and-a-half hour wait, which is unheard of in Leavenworth County," he said. "Typically, (in past elections) 3,000 votes would win the election. (The turnout) was astonishing."
Oroke said he'll spend time before the Jan. 10 swearing-in to study county issues. Monday night he attended an annexation public hearing in Basehor and he's also planned to attend a Thursday annexation hearing in Lansing.
The commissioner-elect said it's important to be educated on issues such as the annexation hearings because it affects the entire county and that decisions on the land grabs could possibly end up in the new county commission's lap.
"You gather all the information you can so that ultimately, if you have to make a decision, you can make one that's best for everybody," Oroke said.
Oroke, a self-employed home builder, said he's pleased January will officially mark his return to county government.
"It's a lot of work and it's a challenge, but it's something I enjoy doing -- working for the people," he said.