Four candidates file for council, board as Jan. 25 filing deadline approaches
As of Tuesday morning, just a week before the candidate deadline, filings for spring elections for expiring seats on the Tonganoxie City Council and the USD 464 Board of Education have been sparse.
Mayor Jason Ward has said he will seek re-election, but as of Tuesday the only candidates to file for mayor or the two expiring seats on the council — now held by Paula Crook and Bill Peak — are council hopefuls Dennis Bixby and incumbent Bill Peak.
School board seats have also attracted two filings, incumbent Kathy Baragary for position No. 2 and Tamara Behm for the at-large position currently held by longtime board member Mildred McMillon, who has announced she will not run for re-election.
A resident of Tonganoxie for 3 1/2 years, Behm said her family moved here from California after visiting the family of her husband, William.
“We moved here for the schools,” she said. “Coming from California, schools were on a downturn way before the Midwest. I saw what was going to happen with the new governor and saw a need to have a voice.”
A registered nurse who works from her home to provide nursing case management, Behm has three children in Tonganoxie schools, Andrew, 15, Meagan, 13, and Isabella, 11.
In addition to the at-large seat, three boundary defined seats will expire with the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Those are positions No. 1 now held by Diane Truesdell, No. 2 of Baragary and No. 3 of incumbent Leana Leslie.
USD 464 board positions Nos. 1 and 4 represent incorporated areas of the city of Tonganoxie west of Laming Road and east of West Street. Positions Nos. 2 and 5 represent the northern part of the district north of Kansas Highway 16 and U.S. Highways 24-40 east of Tonganoxie. Board member Nos. 3 and 6 represent the district south of those two highways and that part of the city west of West Street.
Bixby frequently attends Tonganoxie City Council meetings and organized last summer’s community cleanup effort.
“I’ve become politically active over the past four years,” Bixby said. “Seeing the turnover on the council seats bothered me. We have more people appointed than elected. I don’t think that’s healthy.
“I’m also concerned about the mounting city debt. Other than that, I just want to make Tonganoxie a better place to live.”
Bixby is a residential designer who with the downturn in the housing market is the chef at Vintage Park of Tonganoxie and is a wood carver 16 days a year at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.
There will be a March 1 primary for the council if more than six candidates file for the two expiring positions. A race of four or more candidates for mayor would also force a primary.
Similarly, there would be a primary should more than three candidates file for any of the expiring board seats. Primaries in for positions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 would be limited to those voters living the positions’ boundaries. An at-large primary would be contested districtwide, as will all board elections in the April 5 general election.
The deadline for candidates to file or withdraw from the city and board races is noon Tuesday.