Administrator question fails at the polls
In two Leavenworth County races, voters approved keeping parts of the old government without adding a new layer.
During the general election Tuesday, Nov. 5 voters approved incumbent county commissioner Don Navinsky, but rejected a proposal that would hire a county administrator.
The county administrator ballot question failed 8,299 votes, 54 percent, to 7,314 or 46 percent.
"It was a 50-50 shot," said Joe Daniels, third district Leavenworth County Commission member. "Government is a matter of choosing and that's what the voters did."
The County Commission does have the authority to hire a county administrator but commission members said the issue should be put to a public vote.
Daniels said commissioners would not hire an administrator without voter approval.
"Some commissions have done that," he said. "The present (Leavenworth County) commission wouldn't do that."
According to a brochure mailed to registered voters, the county administrator would have:
Served as the chief administrative officer of the Leavenworth County.
Proposed policy, programs and plans that address the needs of the county.
Presented operating budgets, long-range plans for county operation and capital improvement plans.
Coordinated and supervise the departments of all officials appointed by the board of commissioners.
Prepare the meeting agenda for the board of commissioners.
Coordinate the administrative services of county departments.
Execute contracts and documents approved by the county commission.
Monitor county departments and provide reports to the commissioners.
Perform other duties assigned by the county commission.
Tuesday night wasn't the first time the ballot question appeared before Leavenworth County voters. It was also rejected in 1998, 7,519 to 6,068.
Daniels said the issue could be brought before voters again.
"I'm confident it will be back in the future," he said.
Voters in the first district Leavenworth, Easton and Kickapoo also retained Don Navinsky as their representative to the board of county commissioners.
Navinsky, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger J.C. Tellefson, by a narrow margin.
Navinsky received 2,336 votes, 51 percent, to Tellefson's 2,190, or 48 percent of the overall votes.
Navinsky has been on the county commission since 1995. He has served two terms.
Navinsky and Tellefson were not immediately available for comment.
Leavenworth County officials said they were expecting a stronger voter turnout this year.
"I was hoping for just a bit more," county clerk Linda Sheer said. "I predicted 50 to 55 percent."
According to the clerk's office, 47 percent, or 16,592, of the 35,307 registered county voters voted on Tuesday.
The clerk's office will validate the election results on Friday. The canvass of the results includes reviewing provisional ballots.
"It wouldn't surprise me if there were 250 to 300 (ballots for review)," Sheer said.