Perhaps you recall, or perhaps you don't, that 21-year-old KU junior Matt Bevens filed a few months ago to run for a city council seat in his hometown of Topeka. He did this on top of being a member of the KU debate team, coaching high-school debaters in Topeka, running a business with his dad and making a 30-minute drive to Lawrence every day from Topeka, where he lives.
Well, local elections were Tuesday, and Bevens' campaign is over. According to unofficial Shawnee County vote totals, Bevens lost the race for the Topeka City Council's 1st District seat to incumbent Karen Hiller, by a margin of 676 votes to 403. Bevens received about 37 percent of the votes cast.
I checked in with Bevens today to talk about the result, and he was a bit bummed out — not about losing ("I expected to lose," he said), but about the low voter turnout. Residents of his district cast 1,082 votes. That's around 400 fewer than in the previous council election, he said, even though the district has grown in population.
"That was kind of disappointing," Bevens said. He said he knew his opponent had raised more funds (about $12,400 vs. about $4,700, per the Topeka Capital-Journal last week) and had a bigger campaign operation, so the vote margin didn't surprise him.
He said he had no issue juggling the campaign along with all his other commitments, and the business he runs with his father is still going strong. He says the biggest thing he learned from the campaign was how to be a better listener. And he says he plans to run for public office again someday.
"I can almost guarantee that I will," Bevens said. "It will probably be a few years, though."
I thought I was busy during college just hanging out at the student newspaper all the time, but talking to Bevens makes me feel a bit lazy. Help buoy my spirits by sending your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.