Douglas County candidates reflect on election’s outcome
August 13, 2008
From Lake Tahoe to Carson Valley, Douglas County’s emergency responders picked winners all the way in the Republican race for county commissioner.
Candidates Greg Lynn and Mike Olson and incumbent Doug Johnson won their races Tuesday. All three were endorsed by the Sheriff’s Protective Association and the East Fork Professional Firefighters.
In District 1, builder Lynn won the race over Dave Nelson by 356 votes – 2,977 to 2,621.
“In my wildest dreams, I never expected to be here,” he said. “It looks like we did just enough.”
Lynn said it was a relief to get through the primary election. “It was not just tiring, it was enervating,” he said. “I think it was taking the trouble to get the message out and letting people know 20 years of expertise amounted to something. I think that bled through the message.”
Nelson said he thought Lynn ran a good race. “I hope he turns out to be a good commissioner,” he said.
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Nelson said he felt the issue of his residency hurt him. “There’s nothing I can do about that now,” he said. “If I was going to run for that district, I had to move there.”
In District 3, Johnson defeated graduate student and Douglas County native Blaine Spires, 3,511 votes to 2,087.
Spires said running for office in Douglas County was a great experience. “I learned a ton about the county,” he said. “It was a pleasure and an honor to run.”
Spires said he knew going in that Johnson would be hard to defeat. “He’s an incumbent, and one thing I’ve learned is that incumbents inherently win. That’s one of the things he could hang his hat on. I worked as hard as I could have worked, and that’s all you can ask for at the end of the day.”
Johnson said Spires called and congratulated him on his victory.
“I am humbled and honored,” he said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate all the help and support over the last 31Ú2 years. And this primary election would not have been successful without the same help and support. I owe everyone a huge thank you, but let’s remember this is only round one of two.”
Johnson said it’s time for him to get back to work. “We need to put aside our differences and support the growth-management ordinance and get informed about the school bond continuance on the Nov. 4 ballot.”
In the District 5 Republican primary, Mike Olson defeated Stuart Posselt 2,977 votes to 2,510.
Olson said he was surprised that he came out the winner in the race.
“I really didn’t think I had a chance,” he said. “I really think the help of the first responders, the sheriff’s protective association and the businesses got out the vote. I only counted 12 votes (Wednesday) morning.”
Posselt said he was disappointed by the outcome and feared for where the county was headed.
“It’s minority rules,” he said. “More money and bigger signs might have made a difference. Olson had signs all over the place.”
A Republican, Posselt said he might find himself voting for Nancy Epstein in November. “It may be the first time in my life I vote for a Democrat,” he said.
Democrat Epstein had the clearest margin of victory over her opponent, engineer George Thiel.
“I went down to election headquarters and got a printout,” she said of her 1,475 to 366 victory. “I’ve really been looking forward to this. It’s been a great experience.”
Epstein said she felt Thiel was a good candidate and had some good ideas. “He ran a different type of campaign, but I like to think I was the better candidate and that came through in the end,” she said.
Turnout was dismal, with only 32.8 percent of active voters casting ballots. Republicans represented the highest turnout, with 42.88 percent. Only 26.32 percent of Democrats cast ballots, and 11.89 percent of nonpartisan voters came out.
In all, 8,299 Douglas County voters cast ballots in the election. A third of those voted early, meaning only 4,276 voted on Election Day.