After running unopposed in his previous two bids for re-election to the Harvey County Commission District 1 seat, the 2018 election was a little different for incumbent Chip Westfall (R-Newton). Westfall had not just one, but two independent challengers in the form of Dan Harms and Greg Nickel.
However, when all the votes were tallied the final result was the same as the previous elections, with Westfall winning the commission seat — this time receiving 46.44 percent of the total votes. Like in his prior victories, Westfall noted it was humbling to be selected serve the county and he is grateful to get the chance to continue to do so.
"I am very proud of Harvey County," Westfall said. "It's an honor to serve Harvey County, to make it stronger and better every day — going to regional meetings and national meetings to find ways to make Harvey County stronger and find ways to take the burden off of personal property tax in any way we can."
Making sure Harvey County gets a fair share of federal and state funding is a top priority for Westfall, as is the continued focus on public safety for county citizens, law enforcement officers, emergency medical services staff and more.
Similarly, maintaining county infrastructure holds some importance to Westfall as well as he enters his next term (through 2022) as that plays into safety — with some major projects upcoming for the county.
"We're a mobile community and we've got to keep our roads, bridges and all that in good shape," Westfall said. "We've got one major project facing us over the next multiple years and that is the rebuild of Hesston Road between Newton and Hesston."
Running unopposed in the previous two elections, Westfall did not see the targeted campaign issues brought against him like he did this fall. Facing challengers in the general election, Westfall had to defend his voting record on many fronts — a tough task at times in terms of getting all of that information out to the voting public.
Particularly, the vote on whether or not to sell Camp Hawk was a galvanizing issue that drove at least one of Westfall's challengers (Harms) to run for election. Moving forward from that vote, Westfall stated his belief that the commitment to the county parks — and Camp Hawk specifically — was made clear through actions the commission took after county residents had spoken.
"Camp Hawk will be here forever," Westfall said. "... To prove our commitment to it we've already spent $40,000 in improvements at that park site."
Following his win in this year's election, Westfall will now enter his fourth term serving on the Harvey County Commission.