Silly season, as it is so lovingly called, is a real thing in Lee’s Summit.
Some, it appears from some time around the candidate filing deadline through that first Tuesday (after the first Monday) in April, just lose their absolute minds and all sense of reasoning.
Sometimes it’s candidates. Other times, it’s voters. And social media has only helped enhance the crazy.
Tuesday’s Lee’s Summit municipal election wasn’t immune to this phenomenon. While we had mostly respectful and responsible races, one district race turned ugly. And another was just downright bizarre at the finish line.
In District 1 — the district in which I reside — incumbent Diane Forte showed exponential restraint and good judgment when dealing with her opponent, Robert Dye, who fired early and often at Forte and made the whole of his campaign negative. While Dye certainly has platform items he could have discussed, he instead chose to attack his opponent incessantly.
Fortunately, it backfired, and he found himself on the losing end of an election for the third time in eight years.
Once the dust settles and the election results are certified, Forte will join incumbent Trish Carlyle (District 2) returning to the council dais. Carlyle held off a push from newcomer John Elkin to nab her second term in office.
A new face will likely be joining Forte and Carlyle, too. No, not Bob Johnson (yes, he was elected … again).
Planning Commission member Jose “Beto” Lopez pulled the upset of the election with a photo-finish, five-vote win over incumbent Diane Seif. Seif has wide name recognition but was edged at the end after each election-night update showed her inching further and further ahead of Lopez.
You have to wonder if the last-minute flip-flop on the compensation package cost Seif a few votes — and, possibly, gained Lopez a few additional votes as well. Turns out, those few were all he needed.
Reading the tea leaves, it was likely Seif was thinking down the road with her (to some) shocking “no” vote at council a few weeks ago. As a member of the prevailing side, she could have initiated a movement to bring the vote on pay raises for city employees back (after the election) and possibly help champion it through.
The hitch? Unless there are some hanging chads to be found or a few ballots tossed out, she won’t get that chance. Lopez ran a Carlyle-like campaign in the final weeks and swayed many votes on election day at the polls.
The race does live on, however, as the razor-thin margin triggers an automatic recount with the Jackson County Election Board, which will happen on April 9.
Assuming no changes, Beto joins a council with a ton in front of it. Just a year removed from the removal of one of its own and with employee compensation, developments, the stagnant, voter-approved downtown performance space and a looming budget to balance (with a possible tax on the August ballot as a kicker), this council will have its collective hands full.
Even with his loss in the mayoral race, Rob Binney remains a needed, steady hand on council and will be one of the many guiding factors as newcomer Bill Baird takes the main chair, now as a voting member with the final Charter Commission amendment going into effect.
There are monumental tasks ahead for these elected officials.
It is imperative this group — right out of the gate — fosters a collaborative and respectful working environment.
This is no time for chaos, confusion or condescending attitudes.
Take your oath, get to work.
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.