SWISHER– Fifteen votes.
That’s how close the mayoral election was Tuesday, Feb. 4, in this small northwestern Johnson County community as voters decided who would replace Tim Mason as mayor.
Christopher J. Taylor won the special election with 151 of 288 total votes (52 percent) against 136 votes (47 percent) for Randy Hurlbert. The seat was vacated in November when Mason abruptly resigned minutes after City Clerk Connie Meier resigned. Council member Mary Gudenkauf has been acting as mayor pro tempore ever since, albeit reluctantly.
In an email, Taylor talked about the election and his campaign.
“The most notable thing about the election, to me, was the turnout. We had 286 citizens brave a February snowstorm to cast their votes for mayor. That’s just phenomenal.” Taylor said.
“I heard so many stories from people on their doorsteps and in their kitchens and living rooms, and I’m thrilled they took the time to make their voices heard,” Taylor added. “(Swisher is full of) amazing, talented, insightful people, and it is my privilege to speak for them.”
Taylor said his priorities in the next few months will be getting caught up on the decision-making processes of the current city council and getting to know the council members.
“I’ll be relying heavily on our new clerk, Tawnia Kakacek, to guide me through the intricacies of municipal government.” Kakacek not only replaces Meier, but also an interim clerk provided by H.R. Green & Co.
The new mayor also realizes the events of last fall have shaken the community.
“Ultimately, the city councilors and I need to figure out how to restore Swisher residents’ faith in representative government. With the resignations of (former mayor) Mason and (former clerk) Meier following the November council elections, many people feel as though decisions are being made behind their backs, and I think it’s vital that we show them that City Hall continues to work on their behalf.”
Taylor said he and the council will actively welcome the citizens’ input. “Democracy, after all, starts with an election; it doesn’t end with one,” Taylor said.
Taylor will be sworn in Thursday, Feb. 13, at 9:30 a.m. at the Swisher City Hall. His term expires Dec. 21, 2015.