Incumbent Patrick Kelly wins Democratic primary for District 1 Douglas County Commission seat

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Incumbent District 1 Douglas County Commissioner Patrick Kelly awaits the results of Tuesday's primary election that evening at the Douglas County Elections Office.

Incumbent District 1 Douglas County Commissioner Patrick Kelly emerged victorious in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election, posting a solid lead over challenger Dustin Stumblingbear and earning a spot on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

According to the election results posted to the Douglas County elections office’s live tracker as of around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, Kelly led Stumblingbear with 71.17% of the vote, or 4,522 votes. Stumblingbear received 1,832 votes.

Kelly said he was excited to be a step closer to reelection, but that he was also focused on the work ahead of him before then.

“I think there’s still work to do as we get ready for a general election,” Kelly told the Journal-World. “I enjoy visiting with people about Douglas County; I really enjoy canvassing and going door-to-door talking to people, so I expect that I’ll continue to do that as we get ready for November.”

Kelly said the work also extends to his obligations as a sitting commissioner. Though he previously spoke with the Journal-World about a variety of issues that the commission has tackled during his time in office — such as affordable housing, criminal justice reform and regulations for solar energy development — Kelly said he anticipates he might hear more from constituents about some new developments affecting the county that have arisen in the past month.

One of those is the $4 billion, 4,000-job Panasonic battery plant coming to nearby De Soto. The commission also completed some “heavy lifting” in its budget and American Rescue Plan Act funding allocation processes during the past month, Kelly said.

Kelly also commended Stumblingbear, an Iraq war veteran who serves on the board of Independence Inc., for being willing to run for office.

“It takes a lot to put yourself out there,” Kelly said. “Dustin has a lot of aspirations for leading in our community and participating in the discussions in our community, and I really appreciate that. I know him really well, and I really appreciate that he put his name in.”

Kelly began his current term on the commission in January 2019, has lived in Lawrence for more than three decades and is nearing 25 years of work with the Lawrence school district, where he now serves as chief academic officer. He’s also participated in public service for more than a decade, with stints on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission.

In the Nov. 8 general election, Kelly will face two other candidates vying for his seat: Republican Justin Spiehs and Libertarian Steve Jacob. The deadline to vote in the general election is Oct. 18. The first day advance ballots will be mailed and advance in-person voting may begin is Oct. 19, and the final day for voters to apply for an advance ballot is Nov. 1.


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