The voters of Boone County have spoken, and they made it clear that it is time for new faces on the County Board. Of the seven seats up for reelection, only two were won by incumbents. The large turnout for new faces could be connected with Boone County’s ongoing struggle to agree on what to do with wind farms. A document disclosed earlier in the primary season shows that those opposed to wind farms in Boone County accounted for three of the five newly elected officials as being in favor of what the group calls “safe setbacks.”
In the document, the group pointed out county representatives Bill Pysson (District 1), Marion Thornberry (District 3), Ron Wait (District 1) and Ken Freeman as Board members who voted against the compromise amendment concerning windmill setbacks. Ken Freeman is the only representative to retain his seat in this round of elections. Two seats in District 1 were up for grabs and those were won by Raymond Larson and Sherry Gieseke. They ran as Republicans against the current seat holder Democratic incumbent Bill Pysson. Bill trailed behind the second place winner by around 500 votes, with Larson getting 2219 and Sherry getting 3245.
When asked why the turn out in his favor was so lax, Bill said there were a few reasons that he did poorly in this election. The big one was “the wind issue.” Despite the fact that many in his district opposed wind energy in Boone County, Bill had spoken out and voted in favor of wind energy on multiple occasions. He relayed that those against wind farms “did everything to get him out.” Brad Fidder, who currently holds a seat in District 1, decided to not pursue another term.
Newcomer Jeffery Carlisle will join incumbent Karl Johnson in representing constituents in District 2. They beat out their Democratic opponents, each getting double the votes of Francis Egan and Ray Pendzinski, who had passed away in late October. Ron Wait, currently representing District 2, was beaten out in the spring primary election.
Earlier this year, in gearing up for elections, sources in favor of large setbacks for wind farms released statements supporting both Karl Johnson and Jeff Carlisle while denouncing those who voted against the setbacks. In District 3, Republicans again took the open spaces, with Sherry Branson and Brad Stark beating their Democratic opponents Theresa Glass and Brandon Wells.
Sherry, when asked what she will bring to the table concerning wind energy and said that she has “researched the issue for a long time,” and is familiar with both sides of the debate. Going on she said that it is important to “make sure it is safe for people,” and putting aside personal opinions she needs to “consider the concerns of the voters.”
The wind turbine document appeared to be aimed at Bill Pysson, Marion Thornberry, Ron Wait and Ken Freeman as board members who voted against the compromise amendment concerning windmill setbacks. Ken Freeman is the only representative to retain his seat in this round of elections. Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg (District 1), when asked how he anticipates the transition going and if the newcomers are ready to jump into the conversation, he said the issues will be “handled by level-headed people that will improve the process.”
Resource material that aided in the preparation of this piece was obtained from the website, “The Boone County Watchdog,” and we appreciate use of this material.