Mario Marberry doesn't harbor any ill will toward Marilyn Simmons, the president of the Kansas City, Missouri, School Board. He decided to run against Simmons because he wanted to give voters a choice.
Simmons was first appointed to the board in 1996, but lost elections in both 1998 and 2000. In 2002, she was elected with 1,314 votes in an uncontested race for sub-district six. In 2006, without any challengers to the board incumbents, there was no need for an election at all.
So last year, Marberry started collecting signatures to challenge Simmons in 2010. He fell just short, but he's not counting himself out just yet.
To get on the ballot, sub-district candidates must have 250 signatures from residents of their district certified by the Kansas City Election Board. Marberry turned in 414 signatures. The board only certified 217 -- 33 short of getting on the ballot. "I was very surprised, actually," he says. "I took a lot of time getting them and met a lot of people to get them."
Sure, he was disappointed. "But, initially, I was going to say, 'OK, just let it be,'" he says. "But I've gotten several phone calls and text messages and a couple people have actually shown up at my house unexpectedly, saying 'No, you really do need to fight a little bit more about this.' So based on that response, it's gotten me thinking about it, and rather than just accept it, I will at least go and ask for recount."
(I called Marilyn Simmons to get her reaction, but she declined to comment.)
UPDATE: According to Shawn Kieffer, a director at the Kansas City Election Board, the school board or the court would need to request a recount. Earlier this week, the school board voted down such a motion, offered by board member Airick Leonard West.
According to signature totals from the election board, Simmons barely squeaked onto the ballot herself. The board president turned in 358 signatures and 257 were certified. As for the other candidates, here's a list of how many signatures they turned in and how many were certified.
At large candidates (need 500 signatures to get on the ballot):
Kyleen Carroll: 1,022 submitted, 849 certified
Rose Marie Bell: 680 submitted, 546 certified
Crispin Rea Jr.: 1,499 submitted, 1234 certified
Robert Peterson: 562 submitted, 513 certified
Cokethea N. Hill: 725 submitted, 634 certified
Kenneth Hughlon: 678 submitted, 533 certified
Sub-district candidates (need 250 signatures to get on the ballot):
Derek Richey: 410 submitted, 323 certified
Joseph C. Jackson: 561 submitted, 320 certified
Linwood Tauheed: 338 submitted, 292 certified
Marilyn Y. Simmons: 358 submitted, 257 certified
Mario Marberry: 414 submitted, 217 certified