A new mayor in town
By the time 11 p.m. struck, the crowd gathered inside the basement at Community National Bank in Basehor had gradually thinned out and food from the tables was being wrapped and put away. Earlier in the evening, the room doubling as election night headquarters for Basehor mayoral candidate Chris Garcia was braced for a victory celebration.
But, not only weren't voting returns from the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office making its way to campaign headquarters, there was no good news -- no news at all, in fact -- to celebrate.
A few minutes later, word reached Garcia that his preliminary vote total had surpassed rival Joseph Nick, Sr. Barring a monumental mistake in the vote count, Garcia had just won the office of mayor.
Garcia, a former Basehor City Council president and past mayoral candidate, wore the same calm look when hearing the news as he did throughout the night while awaiting the results.
"I took nothing for granted," Garcia said. "I was waiting for the results to come in before I said anything for sure."
According to the county clerk's office, Garcia received 457 votes Tuesday night. Nick, a retired town postmaster and former school board president, received 296 votes. The totals are unofficial until a vote canvass takes place Friday.
Garcia's win completes a goal he set at the end of 2004 of winning the mayor's seat. It's been a winding road that has brought him here: in 2001, he ran a last ditch write-in campaign against mayoral candidate Bill Hooker, now a City Council member.
Despite running as a write-in candidate and having only two weeks to campaign, Garcia showed well in the 2001 election, losing to Hooker by a slim margin. After the election, Garcia was humble and thanked his opponent for a clean campaign.
He was equally modest Tuesday night. Upon hearing of his victory, his first words were of praise for Nick.
"We both said we were going to run a clean campaign, that there wasn't going to be any negativity," Garcia said. "He kept his word and I kept mine."
Garcia said he also respects Nick for attending council meetings leading up to the election. That showed Nick was earnest in his desire to serve and reinforced the notion, as Nick had said throughout the campaign, that he had no agenda other than working for his fellow residents.
"I applaud him for that," Garcia said. "He took it seriously. I think just by doing that he was serious about the position."
Garcia and council members elected Tuesday night -- incumbent Keith Sifford and newcomer Terry Thomas -- will be sworn in Monday, April 11. While the agenda at Monday night's meeting is already scheduled, Garcia said he will soon schedule a joint meeting between City Council members and members of the Basehor Planning Commission to more thoroughly define their roles in city government.
Following that, he soon hopes to begin plans for improving communication between municipal government and Basehor residents, which Garcia listed throughout the campaign and again Tuesday night as his top priority.
"I think communication will take care of a lot of our issues and problems in the city," he reiterated.