Elections

Meitzner joins Stevens in bid for Wichita City Council seat

Pete Meitzner knows one big difference between him and Charlie Stevens as they both campaign for the District 2 seat on the Wichita City Council in next month's general election.

"He's a much better golfer than I am," Meitzner said.

"That's probably true," said Stevens, one of the state's top amateur golfers.

But Stevens wasn't as quick to discuss their differences on issues as they prepare for the general election on April 5.

"I don't want to comment on what he's going to do," Stevens said, "because I don't know."

Meitzner officially became Stevens' opponent Friday after the primary's provisional ballots were counted. Steve Harris gained two votes on Meitzner, but it wasn't enough to overtake Meitzner for the second spot on the District 2 ballot.

Meitzner, who had led by 10 votes after Tuesday's polls closed, finished eight votes ahead of Harris. Stevens led the field by 130 votes.

While both Meitzner and Stevens are Republican and conservative, Meitzner said they probably differ on the use of economic incentives for businesses.

"I think every proposal, every issue needs to be listened to and all the facts gathered and digested before making a decision," said Meitzner, 55, a business consultant and chairman of the board for the Lord's Diner. "I'm not a giveaway person at all, as Charlie isn't either. We all need to tighten our belts."

Describing himself as "very conservative," Stevens said of the economic incentives: "I would be a tough sell on those. I want to pare down the city government to manageable numbers."

Harris said he's endorsing Meitzner for the seat to replace Sue Schlapp, who can't run again because of term limits.

"I think Pete will make a great city councilman, and I will be a huge supporter of his," Harris said. "He has a great position on the issues — moderate position, logical position."

Stevens, a 41-year-old businessman, had $38,927 in campaign money on hand as of Feb. 17, according to filings with the Sedgwick County Election Office.

Meitzner reported for the mid-February deadline that he had $10,777 on hand, but he later filed a report showing an additional $6,300 in contributions.

Meitzner had to wait a few extra days to see if he would be continuing with his first political campaign.

"We always hear that one vote counts," he said. "And the first rodeo I get into, every vote did count. So I guess that's a lesson to old and young that your vote matters."

Stevens and Meitzner each gained eight votes after Friday's provisional ballots were counted by the Sedgwick County Board of Canvassers, which is made up of the county commissioners. Three commissioners — Karl Peterjohn, Richard Ranzau and Dave Unruh — were joined by proxies for commissioners Jim Skelton and Tim Norton.

Stevens finished with 1,440 votes, followed by 1,310 for Meitzner and 1,302 for Harris.

No other primary races were altered by provisional ballots, which are cast at the polls on Election Day when questions arise about a voter's eligibility.

Thirty-eight of the provisional ballots were cast from District 2, which is on Wichita's east side. Two of those weren't certified, County Election Commissioner Bill Gale said.

This is the second time in recent years that a city council primary outcome has depended on provisional ballots.

In the 2005 primary for District 6, Bob Aldrich led Richard Lopez by three votes for second place after the voting. But after the provisional ballots were counted, Lopez won by six.

He went on to lose to incumbent Sharon Fearey in the general election.

Overall, the canvassing found 13 of the 88 provisional ballots would not be counted. The additional 75 ballots did slightly increase the turnout percentage of the registered voters who cast ballots to 7.8 percent from 7.7, Gale said.

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