Over the last several months, a field of candidates have been battling to become Peculiar's next mayor, a job that comes with the great expectation of overseeing the city’s future economic growth.
By the evening of April 8, voters participating the municipal election had selected Holly Stark, 43, with a 48 percent of the vote, to lead the city for the next two years.
“I’m excited to continue staying on the same path and doing the good work that we’re doing,” Stark said. “When you’re in a four-way race, you never know which way it’s going to go. I feel very fortunate that the people of Peculiar have the same vision for the city that I have.”
Stark earned 360 of the 748 ballots that were submitted in the Peculiar mayoral race. Voter turnout was about 24 percent.
The new mayor works as an independent insurance agent and is a familiar face in Peculiar’s local government as she is in her fifth consecutive term on the BOA. She is currently serving as Mayor Pro Tem.
In addition to being an alderman, Stark has served on the Peculiar Planning Commission; is the secretary of the Cass County Corporation for Economic Development, and is the vice president of the Cass County Coalition of Chambers.
She is expected to be sworn into office at the city’s next aldermen meeting on Monday, April 21.
“Staff is looking forward to working with Mayor Holly Stark,” City Administrator Brad Ratliff said.
Once Stark does take office, she will then appoint somebody from her ward to finish out the second year of her alderman term.
The Peculiar ballot also had candidates vying for seats in all three of the city’s wards, along with a controversial 1-cent-per-gallon fuel tax, setting the stage for one of the most significant elections in city politics in recent years.
But many eyes have been on the mayor's race after Mayor Ernie Jungmeyer, 68, announced that he would not seek another term after six years in office.
The mayoral race attracted a lineup of contenders, including another aldermen, Michael Gallagher, 63, who is a small business owner, along with stay-at-home mother Kimberly Mallinson, 30, and Deborah Pearson, 44, a small business owner and attorney.
In Tuesday’s race, Gallagher came in second place, gaining 25 percent support in the race, or 189 votes, followed by Mallinson and Pearson, both who earned 13 percent of voter support, or 99 and 98 votes, respectively.
There were also two write-in votes.
Gallagher was also the only candidate to have previously ran for mayor in Peculiar. He came in second place among three candidates in an April 1984 election.
During the election season, candidates agreed that their city is at a pivotal time for future growth in their city.
“I want Peculiar to be an economically-viable community for the future,” said Stark, during her campaign. “I don’t know that when my children grow up if they will want to live in Cass County or Peculiar. But if they do, I want to know that it is a community that doesn’t become like Greenwood – where they just become a part of Lee’s Summit because they’ve lost their identity and their ability to create a tax base. I want Peculiar to be able to maintain their identity.”
Stark said one of her first priorities in office will also be to form a police board.
“As I campaigned door-to-door, I heard a lot of people who wanted to have a more open door policy with the police,” Stark said. “We used to have a police commission and the former council did away with that. I’m excited to maybe reenact that.”
She said Police Chief Harry Gurin supports that idea.
“It gives him a two-way street to communicate information from the police back to the community,” Stark said.