Election races to be decided Tuesday
In about a week, the inundation of certain yard signs, commercials and social media political pitches will end.
Many already have taken advantage of advanced voting opportunities, but from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday — Election Day — voters will cast ballots across the country to decide the presidential race, national and state legislative races and county contests.
Leavenworth County Clerk Janet Klasinski, who also is the county’s election officer, said Tuesday she has issued just more than 6,100 ballots, about 4,100 of which have been by mail.
Klasinski said she had great success with satellite voting last week in Tonganoxie and Basehor. Basehor had about 1,200 voters and Tonganoxie 900 take advantage of the satellite voting opportunity.
Though the presidential election has been a heated race, local politics haven’t been dull, especially the Leavenworth County Treasurer race.
Incumbent Janice Van Parys seeks a second term, but is doing so against seasoned challenger Kelly Kultala, who has served as a Piper school board member and later a state senator.
The two campaigns have gone back and forth on issues, such as Van Parys’ use of a county credit card to purchase alcoholic beverages. Van Parys said she reimbursed the county for the purchases — such as alcohol at a conference — adding that it’s not unheard of for officials to use the cards in such instances and reimburse later.
Kultala’s challenge comes after a first term in which Van Parys filed a lawsuit against the Leavenworth County Commission for its directives on how to utilize specific revenue in her budget. Van Parys contended that the commission’s requirements would hinder her ability to meet payroll and other budgetary needs in her office.
The lawsuit ended earlier this year with a settlement. It resolved the issue, at least in the interim. The transfer issue was resolved through 2017.
David Van Parys, legal counsel for the Leavenworth County Commission, is married to Janice Van Parys.
Kultala also has been questioned about a documented phone voice message for a local business in 2008 in which she called state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, her opponent at the time, a “creepy nut.”
Kultala has said at a Tonganoxie forum she used poor judgment in that case, but said she has owned up to it and it’s now already eight years ago.
She also was asked at the meeting from a conservative voter whether she was against abortion. The issue is one that a county treasurer wouldn’t deal with in that office’s capacity. Kultala declined to give a stance on the issue, but eventually provided a tongue-in-cheek response about how she would handle the situation if elected.
“There will not be any abortions performed at the courthouse,” Kultala said.
Other notable races in the area are the Third District Race for Kansas Senate between incumbent Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and Republican challenger Echo Van Meteren and House District 42 between Republican Jim Karleskint and Democrat Kara Reed.
Karleskint, a former teacher and school superintendent, ousted longtime conservative Republican incumbent Connie O’Brien in the primaries. Reed is a biology instructor with Kansas City Kansas Community College.
And in another local race incumbent Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, faces Mike Fonkert, a Democrat and Tonganoxie High School graduate now living in Basehor, in the Kansas House District 38 race.
Voters have until noon Monday to vote advance in person at the courthouse. Advance ballots are due to the courthouse by 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Polls are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday. Go to leavenworthcounty.org for additional voting information.