McNare to join Hertz on city council

Volunteer Jim Curley helps to set up the voting area in the Recreation Center in Douglas on Nov. 2.

With a surprisingly strong 103% voter turnout in Converse County Tuesday, Republicans - not surprisingly – ruled the day, from an 85% preference for President Donald Trump and similar crushing numbers for Rep. Liz Cheney and U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Lummis.

In down-ballot races, Republican candidates in partisan races had similar percentage wins and some were even much higher, as in the cases of state Sen. Brian Boner’s 99% in Senate District 2; Rep. Eric Barlow’s 99% in House District 3; Rep. Aaron Clausen’s 98.5% in HD 6; Rep. Jeremy Haroldson’s 97% in HD 4; and Converse County Clerk Karen Rimmer’s 99%. All were unopposed, of course.

In contested races, incumbents Mike Colling and Rick Grant eased into another term as Converse County commissioners with 40% and 42% of the vote. Constitutional Party candidate Derek Joppru picked up 1,705 votes, or 16%, to Colling’s 4,216 and Grant’s 4,468.

In the nonpartisan Douglas School Board race, which featured a host of newcomers and one incumbent, the five candidates who won seats in the preliminary count Tuesday night were the incumbent Tom Holt (2,943 votes or 20%); Amy Hughes (2,246, 15%); J.C. Forgey (2,212, 15%); Staci Hill (2,086, 14%); and Terry Moss (2,031, 14%).

Newcomers Justin Winney and Russell Neice failed to make the cutoff for school trustee with 1,771 and 1,331 votes, respectively.

The Glenrock School Board had three seats open in this election, with four candidates running. Brad Jones, Vicki Widiker and Jared Williams – all incumbents – easily won re-election with votes ranging from 1,047 to 1,149. Newcomer Kirk Lehner picked up 958 votes (22%) to fall out of the line up.

School board trustees take office in early December, while most other offices have swearing-in ceremonies in early January.

In the nonpartisan Douglas City Council race, newcomer Ron McNare cruised to the top spot with 1,557 votes (34%), while incumbent Karl Hertz eked out the second open spot with 1,023 (22.5%). Hertz announced this week he is leaving for a new job in Alaska (see related story on the front page), which means the current council will decide who will fill his seat once he formally resigns.

Hertz beat newcomer and primary write-in candidate Perry Hershberger by a slim 15 votes (1,023 to 1,005), but with only two seats open, Hershberger’s effort fell amazingly short.

Incumbent City Council Monty Gilbreath failed to retain his seat after garnering 939 votes, or 20.6%, out of the four candidates. Election officials reported 1,146 “undervotes” in that race, meaning that many people either didn’t vote in that contest or voted for only one candidate.

In Glenrock, incumbents John Moulton and Margaret Nunn won re-election with 52% and 47%, respectively. Similar to the Douglas council race, just as many Glenrock voters chose not to cast their ballot in that race as did; 744 skipped it, while 729 voted for Nunn and 806 selected Moulton.

Rolling Hills reported 143 undervotes in its council race, but Bob Sweet and Donna Weaver received 145 and 146 votes, respectively, to continue on that board.

In two ballot issues involving the Converse County aging services, the decision to keep the senior citizens district and its two mil maximum property tax for another four years seemed a no-brainer for voters. Of the 7,009 possible votes on that issue, a whopping 72%, or 4,516, favored the relatively new tax which passed for the first time two years ago. About 28% opposed it, representing 1,742 votes.

For the board which oversees that tax, former Converse County Clerk Lucile Taylor stole the show with 4,835 votes (40%) to join the board. The two incumbents on the ballot for the three open slots won re-election, as well. Kathy Patceg picked up 3,542 (30%) while Ronald Yates was only a few votes behind her with 3,537 (305).

The sole state constitutional amendment on the ballot failed in Converse County 51%-49%, and while statewide totals were lagging, early results with about half of the counties reporting showed it passing with a slim 1,000 difference.

The surprising 103% voter turnout occurred because of a high number of voters registering at the polls. Going into the general election, 6,792 people were registered to vote, but because Wyoming allows registering at the polls, 7,009 people actually cast ballots in Converse County’s 19 precincts.

The county clerk’s office reported of that total, 3,190 people voted either by absentee or filled out their ballots early in person in their office.

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