By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Dennis McKinzie said he felt like an underdog in the District 1 Garfield County commissioner race, but he ended up the top vote-getter.
“Wow, that’s amazing,” McKinzie said.
The final, unofficial tally in Tuesday’s Republican primary in District 1 was McKinzie, of Enid, 431 votes; Marc Bolz, of Covington, 429; and Russell Bowling, of Douglas, 424. Only seven votes separated the top and bottom candidates.
Bowling said Tuesday he was undecided whether to contest the count.
“We’ll see what the officials results are and go from there,” he said.
Results are unofficial until they are certified Friday.
McKinzie and Bolz will square off in an Aug. 24 runoff, since no candidate received a majority in the tight contest. McKinzie polled 33.6 percent of the vote, to 33.4 percent for Bolz and 33 percent for Bowling.
McKinzie was happy getting into the runoff by only seven votes.
“That was some of the bullets they say you sweat,” he said.
McKinzie said he had spoken with both Bolz and Bowling Tuesday night and congratulated both of them on their race.
“All three men campaigned with integrity and a lot of pride, it was quite a race,” McKinzie said.
He plans to take Wednesday off, then return to Enid for the rest of the week. This weekend he and his wife will “get lost” and then he will regroup his campaign.
McKinzie is a former independent businessman in Enid, then worked for UPS, before working as an auditor in the Garfield County Assessor’s Office.
“It feels good, I’m tickled to death,” Bolz said Tuesday night.
Bolz said he knew the race would be close and there would be a runoff, but he did not know who would be in it. The next thing is to keep working hard and campaigning, he said.
Bolz thanked the voters and the people who supported him.
“We will review our strategy and go from there,” he said. “This is new territory.”
He is a 22-year Garfield County employee. He has worked as a truck driver, worked on the bridge crew and served as receiving officer, safety coordinator and heavy equipment operator. For the past six years he has been flood plain manager, safety director and right of way acquisitions manager. Among the major problems faced by the county is the diminishing budget, which the new commissioner will have to deal with.
The winner of the Aug. 24 runoff will replace current District 1 commissioner Steve Hobson, who is retiring. No Democrats or independents filed for the office.
District 3 Garfield County commissioner candidate James Simunek won the Republican primary and the seat, receiving 2,318 votes to 698 for Larry Mack.
“I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but I feel good,” Simunek said. “Now, maybe we can progress and get some work done again.”
Simunek has worked for District 3 seven years and understands the funding problems, especially in a year when the state budget is shrinking. He has talked with incumbent commissioner Scott Savage, who will retire in January, and Savage will assist him until then.
During the campaign Simunek talked about the costs of operating county government, saying commissioners must be good stewards with people’s money.
“Until things turn around, we will do as good as we can with what we’ve got. Hopefully in a couple of years we can get it straightened out,” he said.
No Democrats or independents filed for the office.