Douglas County Commission incumbent holds slight lead for reelection; candidates say final results could take days
photo by: Mackenzie Clark
The race for the Douglas County Commission’s 2nd District seat looked like it would come down to the wire, possibly days after polls closed Tuesday.
Incumbent candidate Nancy Thellman held a slight lead over two Democratic challengers — Shannon Reid and Sara Taliaferro — to retain her seat on the Douglas County Commission.
But she told the Journal-World it appeared the victor might not be known for quite some time.
“I’ll really have to wait until the end, until the last vote is counted, to see how it’s going to go,” Thellman said. “Everybody worked hard in this campaign season, and it looks like it’s up for grabs.”
In the unofficial final results, Thellman had received almost 39% of the vote, Reid had received more than 36% and Taliaferro had received about 24%. With no other candidates running for the seat, the winner of the Democratic primary will advance to an uncontested race in the November general election. Thellman held a lead of 117 votes.
The county saw a massive increase in the number of requests to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. With so many voting through mail, many votes may not be counted until later this week, as all mail ballots postmarked on Aug. 4 are counted.
photo by: Video screenshot/Justice Ticket election party
Reid said she was “optimistic” about the results and excited to see the remaining votes, while Thellman said her lead was “nice, but things change.”
“I’m going to hold my judgment and hope for the best,” Thellman said. “It’s going to take a little more time and a few more ballots to know what’s going to happen.”
During an online election party through a video conference, Reid said she was giving Thellman “a run for her money.” However, she acknowledged that she and Taliaferro appeared to be splitting a majority of the vote to unseat Thellman.
Reid and Taliaferro both said a big reason they chose to run for the seat was because of their opposition to the county’s plan to expand its jail. Thellman and the other commissioners in January all voted to approve a $29.6 million plan that would add up to two new beds to the facility. But Thellman’s stance on the project changed months later after the coronavirus affected the project.
During the pandemic, the inmate population in the facility dropped significantly. Additionally, the fear of a looming inmate population crisis caused by the pandemic led to the county commissioners calling for criminal justice leaders to quickly find ways to decrease the number of people they are booking into the jail.
Thellman recently said if the criminal justice leaders were successful in avoiding the inmate population crisis, it may mean the county would no longer need to move ahead with the jail expansion project.