Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jones takes two counties

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer | 11/7/2012

Anderson and Osage counties will go to an Ottawa man.

Brandon Jones, 38, Ottawa, has won both races in Tuesday’s general election for county attorney in Osage and Anderson counties, according to unofficial results. Jones, Osage County attorney for the past five years, walked away with more than 75 percent of Osage County’s votes in the race.

Anderson and Osage counties will go to an Ottawa man.

Brandon Jones, 38, Ottawa, has won both races in Tuesday’s general election for county attorney in Osage and Anderson counties, according to unofficial results. Jones, Osage County attorney for the past five years, walked away with more than 75 percent of Osage County’s votes in the race.

“I’m excited. I’m from there. That’s where I grew up and I’ve been there for five years, so I feel good that they feel confident and gave me four more years,” Jones said Tuesday night after hearing of the results from Osage County. Jones, along with several other candidates, gathered for a watch party at Pizza Time, 208 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Meanwhile, in Anderson County, the election office was experiencing technical difficulties leading to a delay in the results. Facing two opponents in that race — one of which was a longtime incumbent — Jones said the wait was difficult, but yielded good results.

“It’s going to be interesting to be splitting the two counties, but I wouldn’t have run if I didn’t think I could do it, so I’m looking forward to it,” Jones said Wednesday morning after the unofficial results had been tabulated in Anderson County.

Jones defeated Libertarian Fred Campbell, a 16-year incumbent, as well as Democrat Kathleen Neff, in Anderson County, garnering 1,500 of the more than 3,200 votes. The vote count is evidence, Jones said, that voters were ready to make a change in the office. Those changes will include bringing professionalism and cooperation to Anderson County, he said.

Jones said he plans to build working relationships with his new office and the Anderson County Board of Commissioners, as well as local law enforcement.

“Working as a team, I think that’s important in small county government,” he said.

Jones’ Libertarian challenger said he wasn’t entirely surprised by the results of Tuesday night’s election. He knew running as a third-party candidate wouldn’t be easy. Campbell ran for county attorney in four counties — Anderson, Osage, Franklin and Coffey — and lost in each. He was beaten by Republican Doug Witteman in Coffey County and Republican Stephen Hunting in Franklin County.

“Being a Libertarian, you have to accept the loses,” Campbell said Wednesday morning. “I’m not a natural politician. I’ve always said whenever I was opposed, I would lose.”

A Garnett native, Campbell, 53, plans to remain in Anderson County and open a private law practice. Despite losing, Campbell said, he sees a future for the Libertarian Party in Kansas and nationwide. He said he was pleased with his showing in both Anderson and Franklin counties where he received 1,027 and 3,107 votes respectively.

“I’m sure there’s hope for the Libertarian Party. Most people are actually Libertarians. They just don’t know it yet,” Campbell said.

Looking ahead to January, the newly elected two-county prosecutor said he will have to learn how to divide his time equally between the two offices; something he believes he can do effectively. In an attempt to free up time, Jones said, he will be stepping down from his position as county counselor in Osage in January.  

Also in January, Jones will have to make a decision about a position he holds in Ottawa: school board member. His first four-year term will be up in April and the filing deadline is in January.

“I really enjoy that work and feel it’s extremely important,” he said of the school board position.

The impending deadline doesn’t give Jones much time to determine whether he will be able to juggle the two prosecutor offices and the school board, he said.

“I committed to two counties to be their top law enforcement officer,” he said, “so if that requires me to step down from the school board, I think I’ll probably do that, but honestly I haven’t decided yet.”

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