The steady, understated presence at the head of the Overland Park governing body isn’t going anywhere.
Mayor Carl Gerlach walked away from Tuesday’s election with an easy victory over conservative challenger Charlotte O’Hara, taking 63 percent of the 22,291 votes cast. O’Hara had turned the race largely into a referendum on the city’s widespread use of public financing incentives on development projects, charging that such “corporate welfare” was antithetical to the principles of the free-market. But her message appeared to hold little sway with Overland Park voters, who sided with Gerlach by a two to one margin.
However, the down-ballot races in Overland Park saw two notable shake ups.
In Ward 1, which covers much of the oldest parts of the northern half of the city, voters overwhelmingly went with Logan Heley, ousting incumbent Dave Janson. Heley, a 2011 graduate of Shawnee Mission East who spent time interning in the Obama White House before returning to Johnson County and mounting a run for the state senate last year, took 71 percent of the vote to Janson’s 28.
“I think they were looking for new blood, fresh perspectives looking at the issues,” Heley said Tuesday night. “Overland Park is a great place to live — it’s where I’ve lived my whole life. But I think looking towards our future, we need people who are looking at it from a different angle to make sure it stays the great city it is.”
To the south in Ward 4, which encompasses much of the western part of the city starting several blocks south of I-435, longtime councilman Terry Goodman found himself ousted by newcomer Gina Burke, who took 51 percent of the vote to Goodman’s 48. During the campaign, Burke, who had supported O’Hara in the mayoral election, publicized a series of messages Goodman sent her encouraging her to drop out of the race. She will become the second female member of the 12-person council. Goodman had been on the council since 2001 and had served on the city’s planning commission prior to that.
Elsewhere, however, the incumbents had little trouble holding their seats. Ward 2 incumbent Curt Skoog beat challenger Channing Wolfe 68-32. Ward 3 incumbent Jim Kite defeated Debbie Taylor, another support of O’Hara, 61-39.
In the contested Ward 6 race, Chris Newlin beat David Whitaker 55-45.