Grimes County will have a Primary Runoff Election on May 27, for two county commissioner positions.
Both Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 commissioners, Randy Krueger and Pam Finke, respectively, told The Examiner their experience and accomplishments qualify them as the best candidates in the runoff, especially as the county transitions under the leadership of newly elected County Judge Ben Leman of Iola.
Krueger said he believes he received the highest amount of votes - 47.54 percent and 531 votes, over challenger David Dobyanski’s 44.32 percent and 495 votes – because, “People see the improvements we’re making (as commissioners court) and the job that I have done.”
Wayne Johnson, who will not be in the runoff, received 8.15 percent of votes with 91.
Krueger said he is the best man for the job not only because of his 30 years of business and highway maintenance experience, but also four years as commissioner.
“I think that’ll be important, especially since we’ll have a new county judge. We’ll need some stability in the commissioners court,” Krueger said.
Dobyanski said the runoff shows the county is seeking new leadership.
“There is a runoff because the voters are obviously concerned about my opponent’s record, voting three years in a row to raise our taxes (to which Krueger said is untrue, as property value increases have increased). I feel the voters agree there is a need for accountability, leadership and transparency in our county government,” Dobyanski said.
Dobyanski is a retired teacher and administrator, who said he possesses a skill set that includes leadership, team building and problem solving skills.
“These are vital in bringing more cohesiveness, cooperation and including our citizens in our county government,” Dobyanski said.
Finke is facing a runoff with Gary Husfeld since she did not secure over 50 percent of the Primary Election votes.
Finke earned 46.17 percent of the votes with 307, while Husfeld gained 34.29 percent with 228 votes. Challengers who did not make the runoff include Hardy Meekins, who gained 8.57 percent of votes with 57; and Chris Loukanis with 73 votes at 10.98 percent.
“With four candidates in this particular race, I anticipated a runoff. I am very grateful for the votes I received, and will work to get more in the Runoff Election on May 27,” Finke said.
Finke said her accomplishments during her 11-year tenure speak for themselves.
“Over the past 11 years that I have been a commissioner, the county has made large and small strives at making things better. All residents are not affected directly by each, but they are affected,” Finke said. “I am also proud of the partnerships with first responders, medical providers, grant funded programs, industrial (small and large), state and federal programs and other indirect areas the county is involved in. Every decision has consequences and we must be able to live with the consequences, both current and in the future. We must do what is best for all of Grimes County, today and in the future.”
Finke said her experience in county government would help ensure a smooth transition once newly elected Leman takes the county judge’s seat in January.
“The years of service to Grimes County that I have is a key element as to why I am the best candidate. County government is regulated by the local government code and is complicated at times. We must follow those rules even though, at times, we might not agree with them, we still follow the law,” Finke said. “I also have working knowledge of all the departments within the county and the regulations they must follow and, most importantly, county budgets. I do not make promises because I am only one vote on the court; at times we have to compromise to get the mission accomplished.”
Husfeld said though he expected a tighter Primary race, he is confident that he can win the runoff.
“As commissioner, I will lead efforts to procure grant money, initiate a 5- and 10-year plan for impending growth, be receptive to industries locating to Grimes County, provide annual road paving plan to public, and listen to county residents’ concerns and take action,” Husfeld said.
Leman, on the other hand, won the county judge position – left open by retiring County Judge Betty Shiflett – by a landslide.
Leman gained 1,849 votes at 68.94 percent, while Pamela Beard won 25.24 percent at 617 votes and
Johnny Pierce received 5.82 percent with 156 votes.
Former Independent county judge candidate hopeful, Joe Wilkins, is no longer expected to run.
“These last few months have been tremendous. The support I received from my family, friends, supporters and voters is something that I will never forget,” Leman said. “I take very seriously the faith you have placed in me to serve in this capacity and I thank you, the residents of Grimes County, for that trust.”
Leman said he is also proud of his former contenders.
“I would also like to thank Pamela Beard and Johnny Pierce. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them during this Republican Primary, on the campaign trail, and can say that all of three of us ran good, clean campaigns, focused on the issues. I look forward to a continued relationship with both of them,” Leman said.
Now that the election is behind him, Leman said his focus would now be transitioned into county business.
“I look forward to working with the other members of the commissioners court, and the community as a whole. The issues facing our county will require strategic planning, and that planning must first begin with a team approach. An approach that embraces dissenting voices, engages community stakeholders, and seeks common solutions for shared problems. It will be a challenge, but it is one that I am ready to take head-on,” Leman said. “Again, thank you to the voters of Grimes County. Now it’s time for me to go to work for you.”
The Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace position, left open by retiring incumbent Joe Imhoff, was won by Lester Underwood. Underwood won with 721 votes at 66.76 percent, while Kathy Wingard earned 359 votes at 33.24 percent.
As previously reported, Incumbent District Clerk Gay Wells won with 69.37 percent and 1,850 votes over challenger Mary Pasket, who earned 30.63 percent with 817 votes. Incumbent County Clerk David Pasket won 74.88 percent with 1,997 votes over challenger Teri Ratcliff, who gained 25.12 percent with 670 votes. Incumbent Treasurer Janice Trant won with 1,553 votes at 59.75 percent over Larry McGinnis’ 40.25 percent with 1,046 votes.
Republican Incumbent Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Gene Stapleton and Democratic Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace John LeFlore were not challenged by an opponent.
A report from Elections Administrator Rebecca Duff shows only 19.35 percent of registered voters participated in the Primary Election, as 2,845 cast their votes out of 14,825 registered voters.
Early voting is slated for May 19-23.
Registered voters are reminded that those who did not vote in the Primary Election may still vote in the Runoff Election. Residents who voted in the Primary Election must vote in the same party for the Runoff Election.
Those who applied for a ballot by mail in the Primary Election will automatically receive a ballot by mail for the Runoff Election and the city/school election, according to the elections office.