A newly-elected member of the Jefferson County Commission said he wants to concentrate on improving the county's roads.
The winner of a Jefferson County Commission seat race said his concern about the county's roads and high taxes may have led to his victory Tuesday.
"The major thing that I think is on everybody's mind here is the county roads," said George Mathews, who won a four-year term on the Jefferson County Commission.
Mathews, who will take the post being vacated by Bill Rhoades, defeated Sarah Dean, by 1,015 to 964 votes.
Dean campaigned on open government, treating county residents and employees with respect, and long-range planning.
"There were clearly differences of opinion on all those topics ... how they were approached and how they should be dealt with -- the majority of the people chose what he was saying," she said.
Dean is against a proposal that has been mentioned by some to reroute U.S. Highway 24-40 highway across southern Jefferson County from Grantville to Tonganoxie.
Although the state has announced no such plans, several Jefferson County residents have said they feared the highway would be realigned.
Mathews said he favored improving the road because it is dangerous.
"It needs to be improved, if for no other reason to get away from the danger that exists on it," he said.
Mathews also said he supports some economic development in the county, but not at a rapid rate.
"I'm not opposed to some development," he said, but added, "I think we have to be very careful with it so that we don't get something we don't want."
Mathews had served on the McLouth School Board and is a current board member of Sarcoxie Township in the county.
He worked at the Kansas Department of Commerce and as a landscape architect for the Kansas Department of Transportation before retiring three years ago.
"I don't think I have an agenda," he said. "I've always told people I don't.
"My goal was to provide good leadership ... I'm very open to listening to what people want and then acting on their suggestions."
Mathews' term begins Jan. 1.
-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.