Michael Gray has had closer elections.
In fact, when he was first elected to Pittsburg City Commission a few years ago, it ended up being by single-digit votes. This year, Gray (14.94 percent, or 732 votes) earned another term as city commissioner, but in the low double-digits for a vote spread.
“I was sweating a bit when the first votes came out. Last election, I was next to last before the last precincts. I was sweating, but not entirely worried before those final numbers came in,” Gray said.
Actually, there may still be some controversy related to Gray.
With about 32 provisional ballots remaining from Pittsburg precincts and only a 16-vote lead over fourth-place Dave Holloman (716 votes, or 14.62 percent). But Gray is actually closer to securing a four-year term than he is losing a seat. Gray sits just two votes behind new city commissioner Chuck Munsell (734 votes, 14.98 percent).
“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve our citizens at least two more years. I am honored to serve already for two years. I don’t take that responsibility lightly,” Gray said.
Finishing well ahead for her first four-year term on the Pittsburg City Commission is Monica Murnan, who had 869 votes (17.74 percent). (The top two vote-getters receive four-year terms in Pittsburg, while the third vote-getter gets a two-year term.)
“I’m very honored the people of Pittsburg have given me this opportunity. I will do my very best to serve the community,” Murnan said. “I was pleased several put forth the time and effort to run for this position. It shows that people truly are interested in what’s best for Pittsburg. I look forward to working with all four city commissioners and the city manager.”
Rounding out the other candidates were former city and county commissioner Ralph McGeorge, finishing in a close fifth with 701 votes (14.31 percent). Cheryl Mayo was next, with 497 votes (10.14 percent) and Leatha Bolinger, with 439 votes (8.96 percent). Bill Wilper had 193 votes for 3.94 percent.
Dave Holloman said that the results show just how close the election was.
“We had four candidates all with 14-something percent of the vote,” Holloman said. “At the same time, the citizens spoke for what they wanted Now, we’ll sit back and see how things go. Basically, I hope for the best at this point. My hope would be the commission would re-evaluate some of the harshness of the codes they passed. I hope the emphasis is on building small businesses in Pittsburg.”
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McGeorge was also impressed by how tight the race was, as he finished just 33 votes behind the second-place finisher, Munsell.
“I wish them all the best. I don’t see anything that’s going to change, not like I was going to hope, anyway,” McGeorge said. “We gave it a good fight. I’m not disheartened by it. We had some good insight in it, and we had some good candidate forums. The ones in there will do good for the city. Monica and Chuck are brand new to it, so they’ll go through a learning curve, as it always happens.”
Wilper also wished those elected good luck on the commission
“I hope they make good laws. I’m happy I ran. Hopefully someone heard my voice, at least. I’m not disappointed, but I’m not elated, either,” Wilper said. “I’ve got no problems as far as I’m concerned. I hope everyone does a good job.”
Cheryl Mayo said she is pleased with the results, while Munsell and Leatha Bolinger could not be reached by press time.
Overall, the county saw roughly 17.6 percent turnout, which wasn’t great, but the weather — sleety and dreary throughout the day — may have played a part.
“It was a little lower countywide than I’d hoped for,” said Don Pyle, Crawford County Clerk. “It definitely fell off when you stepped out of the city limits. Franklin, the Elk’s Lodge, and others were very slow Very, very slow. But the polls in the city limits were a lot busier. You could tell where we had city council races to drive turnout.”