Political newcomer Mike Czinege and Councilmember Curt Skoog emerged the winners in the four-way primary for Overland Park mayor.
Czinege, who joined the race late, was the largest vote getter with 8,989 or about 38.6% of the vote.
Skoog ran second with 5,459 votes or 23.4%.
Councilmember Faris Farassati, who was the first to announce his interest in replacing incumbent Mayor Carl Gerlach back in 2019, came in third with 4,815 or 20.6% of the vote.
Attorney Clay Norkey finished fourth with 4,036 votes or 17.3%.
Vote totals remain unofficial until canvassing by the county commission occurs on Aug. 9-10.
A surprise leader
Czinege’s win was something of an upset, given that he entered the race late and had little citywide name recognition.
Farassati had spent months trying to build a coalition of supporters and holding online forums.
Skoog, a branch manager for the Institute of Building Technology and Safety, has been on the council for 16 years, most recently serving as council president. He had earned the endorsements of outgoing mayor Carl Gerlach and former mayor and current Johnson County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert.
Czinege, an executive whose resume includes stints at AMC Theaters and Applebee’s, touted his conservative bona fides during the campaign, bagging endorsements from former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer and anti-abortion group Kansans For Life.
On Tuesday night, he said he expected a good result because of the warm reception he got from people as he knocked on doors.
“For my first campaign I wasn’t sure what to expect walking door to door. The reception we got was really amazing,” he said. “We’re very happy with the results but we’re not totally surprised.”
He said his message resonated with voters who felt Overland Park is moving away from the single-family, planned community with good schools and toward large-scale apartment complexes.
“People want to return to the value in their homes and have good neighborhoods again. There’s a place for apartments but they’re not everywhere.”
He also said voters were looking for more of a voice with city council.
“The developers and the attorneys are listened to but not the residents any more. That’s the number one issue we talked about going door to door.”
Farassati said the outcome proves that people want change and reform, noting that returning the voice to the people was also his campaign’s theme.
“The votes went to him [Czinege], but the message is really clear that the people of Overland Park do want reform. I wish both of them the best of luck to serve the people of Overland Park,” he said.
Voters were interested in issues of fiscal responsibility and preventing overdevelopment, he said.
“All of these messages are something my platform and his platform shared and I think that should resonate with whoever wins this race.”
Farassati will retain his Ward 5 seat on the council next year.
Meanwhile Skoog said his second-place finish validates his campaign’s point that there are still plenty of voters who are happy with the direction the city has gone and supportive of actions recent councils have taken to elevate the city.
In many ways, he said, the race was three against one, with Farassati, Czinege and Norkey attacking Skoog as the perceived incumbent.
“I think it is validation that Overland Park is an amazing place to live, work and raise a family. The city isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be rebuilt,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve got hard work to do to continue to build on our strengths because we want to have a city our children and grandchildren want to live in and that continues to be the economic engine for the state of Kansas.”
“I’m excited to have the support I had tonight,” Skoog said, adding that he looks forward to chances to compare his vision of the city’s future with Czinege’s.
Norkey’s campaign did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment Tuesday night.
Czinege and Skoog will square off in the Nov. 2 general election.
The winner will replace Gerlach, who has served as mayor since 2005 and is not seeking re-election.