With more than half the ballots counted Tuesday night, Dwight Livingston held an apparently insurmoutable lead, and Mayor Marc Kaschke conceded in the battle for the top elected post in North Platte. With 17 precincts counted (66% of the total), Livingston had a 54-45% lead.
"I think the latest set of numbers, it looks like Dwight Livingston will be our next mayor," Kaschke told the Bulletin.
Livingston eventually won the race by an unofficial 655 vote margin, 4,928-4,273.
Kaschke wished him well.
"I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish over the last four years and I believe the city is poised to accomplish many more great things," Kaschke said.
Livingston said his first task will be to set down and start talking to city officials – city council members, city administrator Jim Hawks and the city department heads, he said
Livingston said he’d like to start those talks this fall, before he takes office in January.
“I hope to start as quickly as possible,” Livingston said. “We can’t succeed without good communication.”
Livingston said he doesn't really know what keyed his election. He emphasized honesty, integrity, openness and transparency in his campaign, and said that’s what he intends to have a mayor.
“I care deeply about North Platte,” the former assistant police chief said. “I want the city to be the best it can be. I have no other political ambitions, no personal agenda. I want to have an open administration, so there are no misconceptions, no hidden things. I want people to know what the city is doing and why, where the dollars are going and that tax money is utilized in the best way possible.”
Kaschke, who spent most of the evening presiding over a city council meeting about the financially troubled recycling center, said he has a few more things to do for the city before his term is over at the end of the year.
"There's a few things," he said. "I still hope to get a new city website up and running. I think we'll get it done. Hopefully it will come before the council on the next agenda."
Kaschke advised Livingston to be patient and persistent, and true to himself.
"Patience and persistence are key," he said. "The most important thing I can tell him is to stay true to who you are. Make decisions according to your core values."
Kaschke also foresees improvements to the city recreation center in the near future.
"What we have is a great facility that's 40 years old," he said. "I think it's time to re-evaluate what is the best recreation that North Platte can offer."
Kaschke also wants to see downtown renovated, but said it will take more effort.
"The pieces are in place, but some pushing will be needed," he said. "We really need a champion."