Voters

(Undated) -- The long and sometimes arduous campaign is over. But, the suspense is just beginning, as Election Day dawns in KMAland.

Numerous citywide and school board races will be decided in today's general elections. And, the future leadership is at stake in several communities. For example, seven candidates vie to succeed Dick Hunt as mayor in Shenandoah--Michael Anderson, Jon Eric Brantner, Jim Davey, Jennifer Elliot, Jeff Hiser, Roger McQueen and Ed Perkins. Michael Lamp--an eighth name listed on the ballot--dropped out of the race last month.

Other mayor's races spice up local election ballots. In Red Oak, longtime incumbent Bill Billings Jr. faces a challenge from former Montgomery County Development Corporation Director Shawnna Silvius. Billings says he's running for a sixth term as mayor to finish some projects underway. Chief among those projects is improved fiber optics services in the community. The incumbent mayor is working with a team of experts to address broadband issues.

"We have our IT specialist from the hospital, Terry Koppa, who is also a city councilman," said Billings, " as well as Bret Blackman, who is vice president of communications for the University of Nebraska systems--that is UNK, UNO and UNL. He's involved in this world everyday, as well as our current Montgomery County Development Corporation Executive Director Steve Adams, and Jason Orme, who is a young man who has moved back to Red Oak, as well."

With 17 years' experience in economic development, Silvius served three years as the Montgomery County Development Corporation's director. She resigned last year to become economic development planner with the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, serving six counties around the Omaha-Council Bluffs area. Silvius says she's running for mayor in order to bring unity to the community, and to capitalize on the progress the city has made in development efforts over the past few years.

"We've got some great leadership in great positions," said Silvius, "with Steve Adams in the economic development role, with a new school administrator, and some other folks, and new folks coming on board running for city council. So, it seems like a really great time to build a strong, solid team, and make progress happen."

There's also a battle for the Essex mayor's post, as three candidates seek to succeed the retiring Marian Durfey. Blain Petersen currently owns Petersen Auto in Shenandoah. Petersen say's he's running for mayor of Essex, because he wants to finally give back to his community and address the changing demographics.

"You know Essex used to be an older community, to a part, but I think that's starting to change a little bit more, and more," Petersen said. "There's getting to be a little bit more younger crowds in there, or middle age crowds, and I think they want some different things."

Gloria McComb is a former Essex City Council member and a retired business manager for the Essex School District. McComb says she left her position on city council because she felt she wasn't able to accomplish what she wanted. However, she says she feels that she could do a better job as Mayor.

"I see needs partially because of my history with federal funding with the school districts and the handling of those dollars, and knowing they are taxpayers dollars," McComb said. "I just felt like I can do a little better in some areas, or maybe not, but I'd like to give it a try."

Calvin Kinney is a lifelong Essex resident, owner of Select Motors in Shenandoah since 2009, and an Essex City Council member since 2007. Kinney says he's running for mayor because he is ready to take the next step in serving his community.

"I've enjoyed serving my community, and I felt like with our current mayor stepping down, like it was my turn to step up," Kinney said. "I have some ideas and some things that I feel like I can help see through that needs to be done."

One other mayor's race has developed over the past few weeks. Craig Hill, a current city councilman and the Clarinda School District's maintenance director, is challenged by a write-in candidate, former councilman Geary Kendall. Lisa Hull announced earlier this year that she would not run for another term as mayor. KMA News will have the result of these races and others on "Election Night in KMAland." Our special reports begin when the first results trickle in after polls close after 8 p.m. You can also follow the results online at kmaland.com.

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