(Sidney) -- After an agonizing wait, Peter Johnson is ready to lead the city of Sidney.
Unofficial results show Johnson elected the community's new mayor. One of three write-in candidates, Johnson won with 150 votes, defeating Ken Brown (50) and Fabian Bell (42). Johnson tells KMA News he spent Wednesday checking his phone, while Fremont County's write-in board counted the votes. He credits the county auditor's office for sorting it out.
"I know that it is a tremendous undertaking," said Johnson. "They said they had over a thousand votes countywide that were write-ins. Those aren't easy to count, and just release the results. There is a little bit of a process with the board. So, I want to thank their office and their employees, because they put a lot of work into the election. To get done when they did was a big deal."
Johnson also credited his opponents for a competitive race. When asked to assess his victory, he believes voters sent a message with the election results.
"I don't know really what the difference is," he said. "I'm from Sidney. But, I think what Sidney is ready for, and what they're signaling with the vote with the bond issue, is that the people of Sidney are ready for a new era. They're ready for a new chapter, a new beginning to really usher in a new area of growth, and ideas being brought forward."
Sidney School District voters approved a $10 million bond issue for improvements to the district's facilities. Now that the election is over, Johnson says work begins on preparing for his new role.
"The issues are here," said Johnson. "The work starts now. The work started last night, doing research on the issues--the issues I was talking about, with collaborating with the school, building housing--other things that are very important, and can't be put on the back burner, that we need to work on, so that we can hit the ground running as a mayor and council, so that we can hit the ground running after we're sworn in."
Among other things, Johnson is taking Master's classes in government organization, in order to help understand the mayor's legal powers. He also plans to seek the advice of incumbent Paul Hutt, who is stepping down as mayor at the end of December. The mayor-elect says Hutt leaves some big shoes to fill.
"Paul Hutt's done a lot of great things," he said. "One recently included started the new water project. You know, infrastructure in these small towns is a hard subject, and it's often a tough sell. It's not a glitzy deal that people immediately jump on. So, I want to give him credit for the work that he's done--especially with the water deal--to get it started, and get a lot of momentum for Sidney."
Johnson is a Sidney High School graduate and University of Iowa graduate working part time at the Johnson Law Office.