In a tight race between 12 hopeful candidates, the Owensboro city commission race saw the four available positions go to two incumbents, a previous commissioner and a newcomer.
Securing the most votes and position of mayor pro-tem for the election was Larry Maglinger, a business owner who’s been an active participant in the community, from attending commission meetings, to hearing other politicians speak, to providing a helping hand to the community. Maglinger’s hard work paid off as he earned an unofficial 14.9 percent of the total city commission votes at 7,962 votes total.
Following behind Maglinger was incumbent Pam Smith-Wright, who was elected to her fifth term as city commissioner and secured the second most votes at 7,254 total.
After voting in favor of raising property taxes in a recent city commission vote, Smith-Wright said the decision she made has stuck with her ever since.
“I have stood for what is right. That vote I made about the taxes has weighed on my mind this entire time,” Smith-Wright said. Because of the risk of losing firemen and police officers, Smith-Wright said her vote was necessary.
In a tearful message to the community, Smith-Wright said she was incredibly thankful that residents of Owensboro gave her another chance to do what she feels she was meant to do.
“I am excited. I am humbled. I am overjoyed. I am almost speechless,” Smith-Wright said. “I am so thankful for this community for allowing me to serve. I love what I do — I really love what I do.”
Incumbent Larry Conder secured the third spot in the lineup, earning 12.7 percent of the city’s votes at 6,787. Conder said the results of the vote were “a little surprising.”
“For example, you have a mayoral candidate [Jeff Sanford] that lost two years ago, and who was a former city commissioner, get back on,” Conder said. “And then you have Pam doing well, and then, of course, Larry Maglinger — brand new. He comes in and gets that many more votes than everybody else who’s had the experience and has worked with the budgets, then — boom.”
Despite the surprises, Conder said he’s excited to start working with a new group of city commissioners.
“I hope that we’re continuing down the path of making sure things work well, like they had been before, and I think they will, I really do,” Conder said. “So it’ll be interesting to go through this process again — training and making sure our business works well.”
Former city commissioner Jeff Sanford lost the mayoral election two years prior to this year’s city commission election, but he said the key to securing a win is to keep pushing forward through the losses.
“Most people won’t put themselves out there because it’s tough to lose, it really is,” Sanford said. “I didn’t win my first time, but I kept at it. If you keep at it, the wins will come.”
Sanford, who earned 12.3 percent of the votes at 6,556, said he feels good about winning his seat on the city commission amongst the high number of candidates. Sanford believes taking a step back from politics for the last two years was an effective way to stay grounded for this year’s election.
“It gives you a new perspective of what the general population sees,” Sanford said.
The Owensboro Times reached out to Larry Maglinger for comment but wasn’t able to reach him directly.