Dannen Merrill and John McBride will take their seats on the Maryville City Council for the first time April 12, after winning in one of the most impassioned Nodaway County elections in recent years.
Unofficial results of the election announced April 6 have Merrill leading with 975 votes, and McBride close behind with 836. Ashlee Hendrix was 78 votes behind McBride, with 758 unofficial votes; Tim Jackson ended with 562. A total of 3,131 votes were cast for City Council.
McBride and Merrill will be sworn in to replace outgoing City Councilmen Jason McDowell and Matt Johnson.
After an election season seemingly prolonged by dormant months of a global pandemic, candidates McBride and Merrill saw their campaigns come to fruition. Newly empowered and amplified voices of the community, most active on social media, worked to both highlight the issues and overshadow them.
But now, with the election officially over, McBride and Merrill said they want to refocus on issues that matter outside of COVID-19.
Merrill garnered the most votes of any city council candidate since at least 2016. He attended the unofficial count in the Nodaway County Administration Building April 6, where he said he is looking forward to working on the Council.
“You know, the citizens of Maryville spoke, and I spoke many times about being fiscally conservative and looking at how the budget can be changed to spend more money on primary focuses of government,” Merrill said.
“Some of the hot-button issues of this past year may or may not have been on the ballot tonight,” Merrill said. “I never ran on anything to do with the pandemic; it was always about business as usual for the city and finances, and that being important.”
McBride, who ended up celebrating his campaign victory and marriage anniversary on the same night, spoke with Merrill at A&G Restaurant shortly after the unofficial results came in. After congratulating one another, McBride wanted to thank his supporters.
“If I could say one thing, it would be it was an absolute team effort, people in Maryville and outside of Maryville who supported and helped me get this far.”
“I am overwhelmed, humbled,” McBride said. “But absolutely ready to get to work at the same time.”
Hendrix reflected a similar message of gratitude to her supporters, and in a phone call said she looks forward to serving the community in any way she can.
“I just want to thank those who supported me,” Hendrix said. “I learned campaigning is tough, but I got through it. I look forward to serving my community in other ways going forward.”
Candidate Tim Jackson declined a message for comment.
Those who served on the City Council throughout the pandemic saw an increased resident attendance shortly after the pandemic began seeping into a small community. Protests on face-covering mandates and business shutdowns fueled several candidates' campaigns. Rhetoric reciprocated from national politics trickled down to infiltrate a local community who became divided over drinking water and roads.
Maryville R-II School Board candidates didn’t buy into the division.
At the March 31 Candidate Forum put on by the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce, each candidate said they didn’t condone hateful messaging. They also said it didn’t make sense to be a “political school board candidate.”
In this local race, Traci Westfall led the pack with 1,255 unofficial votes, and Kurz came close behind with 1,159. Monica McCollough garnered 897 votes and Jill Baker finished off with 686 votes April 6. A total of 3,997 ballots were cast for Maryville R-II School Board.
For the Nodaway County Health Center Board of Trustees race, Debra Hull led with 1,822 votes. Bridget Kenny garnered 1,221 votes. Mike Rosenbohlm had 1,155 votes, and David Smith got 704 votes. There were 15 total write-ins and a total of 4,902 ballots were cast for this race.
In each of these heavily contested elections, four candidates were running for two open seats.