The Grain Valley Board of Aldermen will have a couple of new faces soon.
In a tight race in all three wards, challengers Valerie Palecek and Tranita Stanley unseated incumbents in Ward 1 and Ward 3, respectively, while incumbent Chuck Johnston staved off his challenge in Ward 2 in Tuesday’s election.
Palecek garnered 145 votes (38.06 percent) to keep Scott Shafer from returning for a third term in Ward 1. Shafer got 126 votes (33.07 percent) and fellow challenger Nathan Hays claimed 110 (28.87 percent).
Palecek was somewhat surprised but pleased with her victory.
“I’m kind of taken a back a bit. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out,” said Palecek, who works as a before- and after-school program coordinator at Stony Point Elementary in Grain Valley. “I’m excited and overcome with a little bit of emotion to be honest. I see that Tranita also made it, so with some new ideas and new faces, we hope we can do some great things.”
Palecek thought the voters in Ward 1 wanted someone different.
“Maybe people just wanted a change,” she said. “I tried to run the campaign with humility and some grace, and some people told me they appreciated that. I don’t think I’m any better; I just think they thought it was time for a change. But the voters spoke and gave me a chance and I’m not going to let them down. I’m very humbled.
“I’m excited to see what lies ahead. I’m going to go in and get acclimated and then get down to business.”
Palecek and Shafer said they were surprised with the lack of voter turnout. Shafer, who said he counted about 330 exiting the polls when there was 381 total, wasn’t sure if he would challenge the numbers.
“The showing is bigger than the number we clicked at the polls,” Shafer said. “Maybe some people came through the front door that I didn’t see.”
Shafer, a union labor official, said his stand against Valley Speedway – he voted against reinstating the track’s conditional use permit – may have cost him.
“It’s not a real big surprise when you have three people running,” he said. “With the adversity we had with the race track, I knew it was going to be close.”
While Stanley could not be reached for comment, Johnston and Palecek were happy to see her elected in Ward 3. Stanley received 85 votes (53.12 percent) to 75 (46.88 percent) for Scully.
Johnston won by just seven votes in Ward 2, getting 79 votes (51.97 percent) to 72 (47.37 percent) for James J. Pycior, a vice president at a local Internet technology company.
“As glad as I am that I won, I’m just as glad for Valerie and Tranita,” said Johnston, a longtime employee in insurance at OOIDA in Grain Valley. “I think it will make for a more cohesive board and we’ll be able to get a lot of things done. ... It’s a welcome change for me. I think we’ll all work well together.”
Johnston said he was concerned with the low turnout.
“We have 2,000 in this ward and we only got about 150 out, so it was about the slowest I’ve ever seen it,” Johnston said. “You’re not sure how it will turn out when there’s that few, not sure what kinds of issues the few who turned out are going to back.”
Scully, who has served 18 years as an alderman, was a little surprised with the loss.
“I guess they thought it was time for a change,” Scully said. “You can’t run forever. It’s just one of those things. I guess people just wanted a change, that’s all.”