Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2004

Graeber wins commission race

November 4, 2004

Just because the office Clyde Graeber won Tuesday night may not seem as lofty as some of his previous positions, that doesn't mean it's small potatoes.

Graeber, winner of the 2nd District Leavenworth County Commission seat, certainly isn't looking at the job as anything but a major responsibility.

"It's a very important four years," Graeber said. "Right now, the next four years could be what I believe is the greatest opportunity for growth and development (Leavenworth County) might have ever seen.

"It will be a very challenging time, but I'm looking forward to it."

According to final-but-unofficial voting results submitted by the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office, the GOP's Graeber received 5,443 votes, or 62 percent. Democratic challenger Mike "Whiz" Scanlon got 3,272 votes, or 37 percent.

The vote will not be declared official until the Nov. 8 canvassing.

Graeber said the most effective tool he utilized during the campaign was informing voters of his more than 25 years of experience in government. His resume includes 12 years spent in the Kansas House as representative of the 41st District, six years on the Leavenworth City Commission, including two years as mayor, four years as the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and a year as Kansas state treasurer.

"It was very surprising," Graeber said of his overwhelming victory Tuesday. "I'm glad it's over. I'm glad I won.

"It's always surprising when (Election Day) turns out that good."

The 2nd District encompasses Lansing, Linwood and parts of Leavenworth. Graeber, who's lived in Leavenworth County since 1968, said he would focus the next four years on doing what's right for his district as well as the county as a whole.

"If the County Commission can help Linwood, we're helping the county," he said. "If we can help Tonganoxie, we're helping the whole county. Whatever's good for communities in our county, that's good for everyone in the county."

Ultimately, a top priority for the new commissioner will be economic development. Graeber pledged to "work with all groups that strive for economic development."

Graeber will succeed Bob Adams, whom Graeber said he respected and had been "a very good commissioner." Graeber, like all newly elected county officials, will be sworn in Jan. 10.

Until officially taking office, Graeber said he would study county procedures and information and attending as many county commission meetings as possible.

"While I won a seat on the Leavenworth County Commission, there's a commissioner in that seat and I wouldn't want to interfere with that at all," he said.

"I think until (Jan. 10) I'll be very quiet, but very observant."

Former commissioner narrowly wins bid for 3rd District

Although by a slim margin, a former Leavenworth County Commissioner succeeded Tuesday night in his bid to secure his former position.

Dean Oroke, R-Tonganoxie, defeated Democrat Jerry Willburn in a closely contested race decided by fewer than 200 votes. According to final-but-unofficial results from the County Clerk's Office, Oroke received 5,043 votes, 50 percent, against Willburn's 4,845 votes, or 48 percent.

"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 will replace fellow Republican Joe Daniels as 3rd District commissioner. First District commissioner Don Navinsky is the lone holdover.

Oroke said he would spend time before the Jan. 10 swearing-in to study county issues. Monday night he attended an annexation public hearing in Basehor, and he also will attend an annexation hearing in Lansing Nov. 4.

The commissioner-elect said it's important to be educated on issues such as the annexation hearings because decisions 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 homebuilder, said he's pleased January would 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.

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