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Czinege, Skoog Advance In Overland Park Mayoral Primary

Reuben Pearson casts his ballot inside the polling location at Johnson County Arts and Cultural Center early Tuesday morning in Overland Park.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Reuben Pearson casts his ballot inside the polling location at Johnson County Arts and Cultural Center in Overland Park early Tuesday morning.

Unofficial results showed that 36,741 voters, or 13.6% of eligible voters, cast ballots in the primary.

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 votes, 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, and 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, a business executive whose resume includes stints at AMC Theaters, Ernst & Young and Applebee’s, touted his conservative bona fides during the campaign, bagging endorsements from former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer and the 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 was moving away from a 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,” Czinege said.

He also said voters were looking for more of a voice on the city council.

“The developers and the attorneys are listened to but not the residents any more," he said. "That’s the number one issue we talked about going door to door.”

Other reactions

Farassati said the outcome proves that people want change and reform, noting that returning a 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,” Farassati, a cancer scientist, 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 validated 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,” Skoog 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.

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.

In other unofficial results in Johnson County on Tuesday:

Overland Park City Council

Ward 1

2,957 total votes cast

· Logan Heley (incumbent): 59% — advances

· Ryan Spencer: 23% — advances

· Carol Merritt: 13%

· Mike Czerniewski: 6%

Ward 2

4,359 total votes cast

· Melissa Cheatham: 55% — advances

· Roger Tarbutton: 33% — advances

· Tony Medina: 12%

Ward 4

4,162 total votes cast

· Scott Mosher: 44% — advances

· Stacie Gram (incumbent): 32% — advances

· Ty Gardner: 24%

Ward 5

3,619 total votes cast

· Sam Passer: 47% — advances

· Sheila Rodriguez: 39% — advances

· Amy Goodman-Long: 14%

Lenexa City Council

Ward 3

980 total votes cast

· Corey Hunt (incumbent): 48% — advances

· Melanie Arroyo: 43% — advances

· Laura Hill: 6%

· Gael Wheeler: 2%

Ward 4

764 total votes cast

· Craig Denny: 60% — advances

· Scott Callaway: 26% — advances

· Hophine Bwosinde: 14%

Merriam City Council

Ward 2

208 total votes cast

· Amy Rider: 57% — advances

· Nancy Hammond: 30% — advances

· Richard Gendvil: 13%

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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