Candidate Joshua Blick conceded the District 4 council race to Jeff Blubaugh on Thursday morning.
Blick, who trailed Blubaugh by 40 votes after Tuesday night, had earlier refused to concede and held out hope that provisional ballots might change the results. But the election office said Thursday that fewer than 15 provisional ballots had been cast in District 4.
“Given all the negative things that have happened, I wanted to go forward and work together with Jeff for the best interests of the district,” Blick said. “I have no interest in dragging this out any further.”
Blubaugh will be sworn in at City Hall on Tuesday. He will serve out the two years remaining on a term vacated after Michael O’Donnell was elected to the state Senate.
Blubaugh praised Blick’s decision and said he looks forward to working with him.
“I was glad Josh called me,” he said. “It brings this to closure and shows that Josh truly cares about the district and wants to move forward and not go one more week with the district unrepresented.”
Blubaugh, who has a real estate business, had extended an olive branch Tuesday night to Blick, a community volunteer, saying they should work together to advance key district issues at City Hall.
Blick finished first in the February primary. But Blubaugh edged ahead to finish the general election with 1,100 votes to 1,060 for Blick.
Both the primary and general election campaigns were marked by acrimony – first directed by Blick and Blubaugh at primary challenger and Wichita businessman Craig Gabel, who finished third, then against each other.
The campaign ended with Blick’s home and cars being vandalized and with Blick alleging that Gabel and Gabel’s employees were stalking him. Blick obtained a temporary protection from stalking order against Gabel in Sedgwick County District Court after those incidents, with a court hearing scheduled for April 11.
Blubaugh, who said he would resign his Goddard school board seat via e-mail over the next couple of days, didn’t offer a plan to unite the disparate interests of District 4. Instead, he said, his job at City Hall will be to represent a wide diversity of interests.
“It was obvious the district is divided, even from the primary,” he said. “Pretty much divided three different ways, I think, in the primary.
“I think the biggest thing is the voters of District 4 want their representative visible, and they want to be able to communicate with them. I have to hear a lot of different views in the district, and I want to hear those views.”