Republican candidate Randy Thomas defeated Democrat Bryan Richards and Independent Scott Reynolds to win the Pottawatomie County District 2 Commissioner race Tuesday night.
"We all ran a good race," Thomas said of the campaign. "I'm humbled and honored. I'm going to do my best to make a difference."
With all 10 precincts reporting, Thomas defeated Richards, whose father Jerry Richards held the District 2 seat for close to 20 years, by a 4,123 to 2,703 count — a margin of 1,420 votes. Thomas gained 53.6 percent of the vote to Richards' 35.2 percent.
Reynolds garnered 863 votes (11.2 percent).
Thomas said he is excited to take on the role of county commissioner, but will take as much time as necessary to fix the county's problems.
"I'm going to size up the situations. I've got to try to not get too excited about anything. I'm going to try to be patient."
Thomas also stressed that accountability would play a large part in how he approaches the office.
"I'm going to try to be accountable and transparent. I'm big on accountability and transparency. I'll be honest with people, and if I can help you, I will," Thomas said.
"I've run my own business for 23 years, I've been in the concrete and construction industry my whole life, and I'm a retired fire captain out of Norman. I did 25 years of service out of there. That was one organization that really held you accountable and held you to a code of conduct. The taxpayers ultimately paid your salary, and I want to bring that same level of service to our county. I work for the people."
In a PAVE forum last month, Thomas said one of the biggest issues facing the county was economic development. Thomas said the county is "stagnant," adding that sales taxes have been down 1.5 percent.
He also said that there was no reason Pottawatomie County shouldn't be growing like other areas in the state.
Despite his loss in the election, Reynolds wished Thomas well. "He's a good guy. I've never thought anything bad of him, and I wish him well."
"I want to thank everyone who helped us out in our campaign. Unfortunately, we didn't pull it off," Reynolds said.
Richards could not be reached for comment at press time.