Political newcomer Richard Ranzau thought the timing was right to run for office, and now he'll face off against a seasoned public official in the District 4 race for Sedgwick County Commission.
Ranzau defeated former commissioner Lucy Burtnett on Tuesday in the Republican primary for the commission seat representing the northern part of the county.
If election results hold, Ranzau and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau will vie to replace Republican Kelly Parks on the board. Parks announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.
The race between Faust-Goudeau and former Wichita City Council member Sharon Fearey came down to 60 votes. Election Commissioner Bill Gale said provisional ballots may affect the outcome of that race.
Ranzau, a physician assistant, describes himself as a fiscal conservative who said he likely will vote "no" a lot to spending money.
"Being the new guy, I have to be considered the underdog in this race," Ranzau said. "It's rewarding to see the hard work we did pay off.
"We did 120 houses yesterday (Monday) in the heat. Our family has put a lot of effort into this."
Ranzau made the economy the focal point of his campaign and has said he thinks the economy will get worse before it gets better.
Fearey did not hide her displeasure at the outcome of her race.
"I'm disappointed for the future of our county," Fearey said. "The Democrats just elected a woman who has housing violations and who broke the law with in-kind contributions she accepted. Okie-dokie. You always have to leave it up to the voters."
The Eagle reported recently that the city had cited a home Faust-Goudeau owns with housing violations dating back five years and had deferred fines assessed in the cases. Records show Faust-Goudeau paid $250 in fines this week.
Faust-Goudeau said she would return at least $1,150 worth of in-kind campaign contributions to Harris Media.
The move came after The Eagle asked her about $1,650 of in-kind contributions listed on her most recent report. Under state law, a candidate can collect no more than $500 from a person or company.
Fearey doesn't think the outcome will change, despite the tight vote.
"I don't think it probably will, but they'll count the votes no matter what I think, right?"
Faust-Goudeau didn't watch results on TV, preferring instead to get updates from her 15-year-old daughter.
"I feel I was an underdog and this was an upset," Faust-Goudeau said.
"I expect to put my years of experience and relationships I've built in the Legislature to work here. It's an exciting night."
At Burtnett's house, neighbors enjoying a National Night Out party and supporters ate barbecue while watching results on two TVs and a computer.
"My neighbors are kind enough to support me even if they're not Republicans," Burtnett said early in the evening.
After the results came in, Burtnett said she would not support Ranzau.
"They've got a guy who says 'no' to everything, so hey, Sedgwick County, that's what you got," Burtnett said.
Wichita school board member Betty Arnold won her Democratic primary against community activist Juanita Blackmon.
Arnold will face incumbent Dave Unruh in the general election.
"I certainly see a different type of race with Dave," she said, "probably more welcoming than anything."
The primary was frustrating, Arnold said, because Blackmon at times focused on issues outside the County Commission's control such as how SRS interacts with families.
"It does make a race more difficult," Arnold said. "I'm not going to promise everything to win a race."
Wichita City Council member Jim Skelton defeated Derby city leaders Dion Avello and Chuck Warren in the Republican primary.
Skelton spent the night at block parties for National Night Out.
He said he will thank his volunteers and voters and move forward with the campaign.
"No time to celebrate; there's a lot of work ahead."
He said the time he's spent going door to door, something he said is integral for a campaign, has been important.
"It's not the most fun, but it's one of the most effective things that I think people can do."
Skelton said his work on the City Council has been important in this race.
"I'm fortunate that I've worked hard and haven't slacked off and have earned this victory of mine," Skelton said.
Skelton will face incumbent Gwen Welshimer in the general election.