SOUTH BEND — Democrats Steve Rogers and Frank Wolfe are ahead in their elections for vacant Pacific County Commission posts.
In the Commission District 1 seat in northern Pacific County, Rogers is ahead of Republican Scott McDougall by a margin of 4,726 votes to 4,183. Rogers garnered 53 percent of the vote.
In the Commission District 2 seat, Wolfe is beating fellow Democrat Richard Makowski by 4,491 votes to 3,117 votes. Wolfe received 59 percent of the vote.
“I’m very pleased with the results,” Rogers said. “”I learned the value of persistence and I did a lot of door belling and had a great team. … I heard a quote on NPR that makes sense in this race. Just because someone’s an opponent doesn’t mean they’re an enemy and that’s definitely the case with me and Scott. Just this morning we were at the same Kiwanis meeting and I’m very honored that we were able to stay friends in this election.”
McDougall wasn’t ready to concede the race quite yet. The Pacific County Auditor’s Office reports there’s an estimated 1,000 ballots left to count, but McDougall said he spoke with elections officials, who have told him there could be up to 2,000 ballots still there.
“We’ll find out on the next count on Friday,” McDougall said. “I have to say that I’d need two-thirds of those ballots to win and I’m not sure if that’s going to happen. I’m not quite ready to concede. You never want to give up until you have to.”
McDougall was able to get some crossover votes who voted for Democrat Makowski. However, he noted, that it looked like Rogers’ votes were tracking in line with President Obama’s votes in Pacific County. Obama received about 54 percent.
Voters haven’t elected a Republican to the county commissioners since 1972. Former Pacific County Commissioner Pat Hamilton was elected four times as a Democrat before, in 2003, she left the Democrats behind and became a Republican. She left office before ever running as a county commissioner as a Republican.
McDougall and Rogers were vying for the seat of Jon Kaino, who recently resigned to take another job. Democrat Beverly Olson of Bay Center is acting as interim county commissioner until the November election. Rogers would take office as soon as the election is certified. Certification date is Nov. 27.
No Republicans ran in the Commission District 2 race, where the top two primary pinned Democrats against each other.