Nash defeats Bayro, will finish council term

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Amber Nash narrowly defeated Susan Bayro, 140 votes to 128, on April 6 to win the right to serve the remaining portion of a three-year Pawhuska City Council term that Jourdan Foran won in April 2019.

Foran resigned from the Ward 2 council seat in late 2020, having moved to Bartlesville in connection with a job offer. A full term on the Pawhuska City Council is three years.

Nash, Bayro and Bruce Malone ran in a Feb. 9, primary for the remainder of Foran’s term. Bayro received 192 votes in the primary, followed by Nash with 126 votes and Malone with 76.

The voter participation number dropped from 394 in the primary to 268 in the April 6 general election.

In 2020, voter turnout for the primary and the general election in the race for the at-large seat on the Pawhuska council increased in the general election, with 426 votes being cast in the primary and 603 in the general election.

“Shock,” Nash told the Journal-Capital, describing her reaction to the outcome April 6.

“It was very surprising, and I am very excited about getting started,” Nash said. She was scheduled to take office Tuesday, April 13, at the City Council’s regular meeting for the month.

City Attorney John Heskett explained that Nash is filling the unexpired portion of a term that is already in progress, and so will take office immediately rather than waiting until May.

Nash said she hopes that she can be an asset to the council and a voice for Pawhuska residents.

“I did a lot of phone calling and talked to people,” she said, describing her campaign activities. “Some of them were very concerned about certain areas and certain things that need attention.”

“Overall, Pawhuskans are really nice people and Pawhuska is a really nice place,” Nash said.

She is a Pawhuska native who worked for nearly three decades for the U.S.D.A.-Osage County Farm Service Agency.

“I don’t want anyone to be ignored by the council or by city hall,” Nash said, pledging to work to make city government as responsive to residents as possible. "I’m looking forward to it. I really am.”

Nash also praised her opponent.

“Susan ran a really good race and I admire her work,” Nash said of Bayro. “She seems very conscientious and she would have been a very shining light on the council.”

Nash said it saddened her that voter turnout was low for the general election.

“I hope in the future we can get more people out to vote,” she said.

In post-election comments online, Bayro congratulated Nash.

“I want to let her know how thankful I am that we were able to run a clean and professional campaign against each other,” Bayro said.

In comments for the Journal-Capital regarding why she thought the election turned out as it did, Bayro said she thought several factors contributed to her loss.

“Of course the bottom line was that I didn’t get enough votes,” Bayro said.

She mentioned that she was a first-time candidate, and perhaps voters did not know enough about her behind-the-scenes contributions to the functioning of city government. Bayro is an employee of the Osage Nation, where she has worked on special projects and is currently involved in strategic planning.

“I spend a lot of time working with the city and the council on multiple projects, but the majority of the time I spend ‘behind the scenes,’” she said. “Without the day-to-day exposure to the public I feel that many people don’t know me, or know of any of my work I do for our city.”

She also noted that she had not spent time earning the support of leaders inside city government.

“This was my first time running for the council, and I didn’t realize we could have city department heads campaign for us on social media,” she said. “So I never took that opportunity to meet with other department heads and discuss earning their support.”

Bayro explained she had been cautious about raising money for the campaign, and expressed thanks for the interest that residents showed in her candidacy.

“Money is always a factor in any campaign, and with such a short term I didn’t want to go over budget or seek out any additional financial backing,” Bayro said. “I am extremely grateful for the support that I was so generously given, it means so much to me. I want everyone to know that I’m so excited to run for council again in November!”