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Johnson, Bales win county board races

Voting was strong and steady all day long Tuesday, including at this precinct in LaGrand Township. A total of 21,012 people voted in Douglas County out of 23,894 pre-registered voters, a turnout of 88 percent. Many new voters went to the polls - 2,974 registered on Election Day. Echo Press photo by Arlan Anderson.

It'll be back to business when Douglas County commissioners reconvene next week.

Voters re-elected both board incumbents Tuesday, with turnout results reflecting somewhat the tone of two very different political contests.

Sitting commissioner Bev Bales defeated newcomer Jeff Callaghan 52 percent to 48 percent in the hard-fought and at times contentious race for the third district.

Bales beat Callaghan by 183 total votes, taking eight of the district's 10 precincts, though several were by slim margins.

"I'm grateful and honored to be re-elected," Bales said Wednesday. "I would like to thank everyone who supported me."

Bales said voters supported her because of her long record of working to save taxpayers money.

"I'm glad to see people saw through everything that was happening and still made the right decision," she said.

In a campaign that was tame by comparison, District 1 incumbent Gerald "Jerry" Johnson trounced challenger Dennis Nagle 67 percent to 33 percent Tuesday night.

Johnson carried every precinct in the district on his way to a landslide victory, receiving more than twice as many votes as Nagle.

Still, Johnson admitted Wednesday being a little nervous before the results came in.

"Going door-to-door, it always seemed pretty positive," he said, "but you never know."

Johnson said he won because voters were pleased with his past performance on the board, and he's looking forward to continue serving his constituents.

"I feel they've trusted me and the decisions I've made, no matter what rhetoric has been," he said. "And I thank them for that. They truly are the best district in the county."

Going forward, both returning commissioners said they plan to focus primarily on trying to contain the county's pending 2009 budget, which currently calls for an 11.6 percent levy increase.

"We have to really try to get that cut down," Johnson said. "With the economy the way it is ... we owe it to our constituents to tighten our belt also."

Todd County/Commissioner results

Todd County voters have returned Randy Neumann for another four years as county commissioner, but the District 5 incumbent might be on a short leash.

Neumann edged out former commissioner Ken Sorenson Tuesday, taking the fifth district by 38 votes.

Neumann beat Sorenson 51 percent to 49 percent while capturing five of the district's 10 precincts.

Sorenson took the rest, save for West Union Township, which the two men split.