OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — For the first time since 2005, Overland Park has a new mayor.
Voters elected Curt Skoog, a 16-year member of the Overland Park City Council, as the next mayor of the city in Tuesday’s general election.
Skoog defeated political newcomer Mike Czinege in a tight race. Unofficial final results from Johnson County show Skoog with 19,656 votes, or 50.7%, compared to Czinege’s 19,108 votes, or 49.3%.
It’s a reversal of primary results, where he came in with fewer votes than Czinege but enough to continue to the general election.
This was the first time in over 15 years that Carl Gerlach’s name wasn’t on the ballot as Overland Park’s current mayor previously announced he’s stepping down from the role.
Gerlach and former Mayor Ed Eilert both endorsed Skoog to take over as mayor of Johnson County’s largest city. Skoog tied himself closely to current city policies and other decisions that he believes allowed the city to grow during his time on the council.
Although this race was defined as the insider versus the outsider, Skoog said this election activated a lot of unexpected supporters.
“There are a lot of people here who’ve never been involved in a political campaign in their life,” Skoog said Tuesday night. “But what we’ve proved today is that Overland Park can be independent, can be our own city. We don’t have to follow the guidelines of Washington D.C. or the guidelines of Topeka. We are Overland Park. We are the economic engine.”
Czinege, a retired business executive, campaigned on issues related to crime and a skepticism of tax incentives and big apartment complexes.
“We came a long way, and I’m proud of the effort that we put forth, and I’m proud of all the residents and all my campaign team and volunteers,” Czinege said Tuesday night. “And it is what it is. Hopefully the city council — we’ve got some really good people on the city council, and that’s what we’ve got to hope. That we begin to turn the tide and look forward in the right way.”
Johnson County saw what’s expected to be a record voter turnout in Tuesday’s election. In the Overland Park mayoral race, in particular, about 10,000 more votes were tallied than in the 2017 mayoral election, according to unofficial results.