West Platte adds 2 new members

In the West Platte School District, one incumbent kept his seat and one lost his, in what appears to be a referendum on the candidates’ stances on a controversial superintendent.  Incumbent Ron Rowe received 24 percent of the vote, compared to fellow incumbent Aaron Johnson’s nine percent turnout. The Board will also see two new members with the election of Shane Bartee and Antonio Cutolo-Ring, who pulled in 27 percent and 21 percent, respectively. The rest of the ballot was split between Boogie Kline, six percent, Corry Holmes, six percent, and Leonard Brown, four percent. Rowe thanked the community for its continued support. He was appointed to the Board after the resignation of longtime member Pat Roberts last year. “I’m looking forward to doing what I promised,” Rowe said. “The district needs to have a five-year plan going forward, we need to make sure our teachers’ salaries are competitive with other districts and we need to have a plan for any renovations or additions to the building so we do it responsibly.” Rowe has been a public critic of the performance of Superintendent Dr. Jerrod Wheeler, and said his opinion turned completely around after he was appointed to the Board. During a candidate forum held March 31, Rowe said when he arrived on the Board he supported Wheeler, but has since seen the district stumble and fall down in execution and management. The district has seen numerous changes over the last few years since the hire of Wheeler, including changeover in the principal’s office at both the elementary and high school levels. While some have embraced the changes, not everyone was pleased and late last year, the Board voted on a split vote not to extend Wheeler’s contract past next year. Rowe, Bartee and Cutolo-Ring all voiced similar concerns during the candidate forum, stating they would not vote to retain Wheeler as superintendent. Bartee said he was concerned about decisions made over the last two years of Wheeler’s time at West Platte and said he believed it was time for a fresh start for Wheeler and the district, beginning with a parting of ways. Cutolo-Ring said steps need to be taken to restore community trust in the Board, and the ways in which administrative decisions are made and implemented need to be addressed to do this. Johnson, who voted to renew Wheeler’s contract last year, stood behind his vote at the candidate forum, and was joined in his support by candidates Kline, Brown and Holmes. Election results were a mixed bag across the County with some surprise upsets and questions answered. DEARBORN In Dearborn, voters again turned down the one-half cent sales tax to fund parks maintenance. With 46 votes cast in opposition and 44 in support, the race was narrow. A surprise upset came on the Board of Aldermen, where longtime Ward I alderman Donald Swanstone Jr. was unseated by former alderman Louis Buntin. Buntin garnered 76 percent of the vote to Swanstone’s 21 percent. In Ward II, Steven Buckler took 81 percent of the vote to win over Randy Stark. EDGERTON In Edgerton, incumbent mayor James Snook Jr. lost a challenge to Shawn Harmer. Harmer earned 73 percent of the vote to Snook’s 26 percent. PARKVILLE Mayoral terms in Parkville will now last three years, though the change will not take effect until the 2016 election. Voters approved the ballot question with 70 percent in support. NORTH PLATTE Bennett French, with 25 percent of the vote, will join the North Platte Board of Education, unseating Bill Matney, 21 percent. Incumbents George Hoeffner, 24 percent, and Michele Paden-Livengood, 26 percent, were re-elected.