Incumbent Ward 2 councilman Steve Holcombe and challenger Jourdan Foran will meet again in a runoff April 2 for a three-year term on the Pawhuska City Council.
Holcombe led a three-candidate field Feb. 12 with 144 votes, or 38.1 percent. Foran ran second with 137 votes, or 36.24 percent. Laban Miles came in third with 97 votes, or 25.66 percent.
Since neither Holcombe nor Foran met the required 50 percent threshold, both will head to the runoff in the General Election in April. The city’s Ward 1 seat was also available for candidates in this election cycle, but only incumbent councilman Roger Taylor, who also serves as mayor, filed to run.
Foran said she’s glad the primary went as well as it did, given the weather and winter-illness challenges that people faced.
“Now it’s just gaining more votes and gaining more connections with people,” Foran said. This is her first run for political office and she hopes that her strong primary showing will encourage more voters to consider her.
Holcombe said he thinks the city council’s most recent meeting, held Feb. 12 (the same evening the primary vote concluded) illustrated why he is running for another term. Holcombe recalled being on the losing end of a 4-1 vote to advertise for bids for generators. He argued that the council moved ahead prematurely, without having a business plan developed first.
“Well, I think that last meeting was a perfectly good example of what I’m trying to explain to folks,” Holcombe said. “We’ve got to get out of that mode.”
He also said he thinks it’s time for people in Pawhuska to make up their minds what sort of role they want the city council to play.
“I think it’s time for people to come down on one side or the other,” Holcombe said.
Foran said she thinks the city needs to address infrastructure issues.
“I think right now we’ve just really got to address our infrastructure,” she said. “We’ve got some utility updates that need to happen. The past few power outages have been a little longer than normal.”
Foran also said she thinks Pawhuska needs to make sure it responds adequately to road problems, using funding that is already available, especially given how many visitors the city receives.
In addition to the role of the council, Holcombe addressed the issue of what role the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce plays. He said that he is addressing the Chamber’s Board of Directors when he observes that the Pawhuska Chamber “does not operate as what I would consider a normal Chamber.” Holcombe clarified he has nothing against Joni Nash, the day-to-day manager of the Chamber, but holds the board responsible.
For instance, the Chamber does not come to the city council and address issues such as whether truck traffic should be diverted from downtown Pawhuska onto a truck route.
“They are silent on that,” he said. “They have a pattern of silence on very important issues.”
Holcombe added that he thinks the Pawhuska Merchants Association had to come into existence because the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t effectively serve the whole commercial community.
Foran said there seem to have been more break-ins lately than usual and she would like to see that addressed as needed with patrols. It’s important for the public to feel safe, she said.
Foran also emphasized making sure city workers have the equipment and support they need, and that city government does everything it can to be supportive of the public schools.
“As a community, our school is very important,” she said.