The results of the 2020 Presidential election are still up in the air as the last remaining states continue to count votes.
Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris seem to have the lead over Republican President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, but the election has not yet been called.
However, there are a few local races which seem to have clear winners.
In the race for Geary County Clerk, incumbent Republican Rebecca Nordyke has come out on top of her race against challenger Democrat Diana Dean
Nordyke came out with 5,353 while Dean netted 3,552 votes. There were also 17 write-ins.
Nordyke declined to speak on election night about her victory, saying she was tired and did not want to misspeak.
Sheriff Dan Jackson, the incumbent Republican, has also retained his seat by a wide margin with 5,517 against Democratic opponent Fred Reid, who garnered 3,341 votes. There were also 14 write-ins associated with this race.
Jackson had not responded to requests for comment as of Thursday morning at press time.
Races for two contested seats on the Geary County Commission are closer.
Two candidates for Geary County Commission snuck up unexpectedly on their opponents, flipping their respective races at the end of the night.
Commissioner Brad Scholz, Republican of District 1, had been leading his opponent, Independent Trish Giordano and Commissioner Charles Stimatze, Republican of District 2, had the lead over his Democratic opponent Alex Tyson for the majority of election night.
Then, after mailed advanced ballots were counted, all that changed.
Both races flipped, with Giordano coming in at 2,119, leading Scholz who had 1,873.
Tyson now had a lead with 1,536 over Stimatze’s 1,341.
With provisional ballots yet to be counted, it is still entirely possible these races could flip yet again. According to Nordyke, there are a total of 536 provisional ballots yet to be counted. Mail-in ballots can also be counted if they arrive through Friday, as long as they’re postmarked by election day or earlier. It’s hard for Nordyke to say whether or not this could flip one of the close races, though, because not all of these ballots will be in District 1 or District 2 and all of them may not be for one candidate or another.
But for now, Tyson and Giordano are preparing to take over their seats on the county commission.
Tyson talked Wednesday about his plans for the future — and about what it felt like to trail behind his opponent all night only to come out with an apparent win in the end.
“I was sitting there, I was nervous, anxious,” he said. “It was like, ‘what the heck’s going on?’ when those numbers popped up.”
He received a text from a friend congratulating him on his victory, which he hadn’t yet realized he had achieved.
Tyson texted back in confusion and his friend texted him back the final numbers. It finally sunk in.
“It was a great feeling,” he said. “It felt like I won the big game at that moment.”
If and when he eventually takes the District 2 seat on the commission, he looks forward to meeting with county department heads and collaborating with them to plan for whatever may face the community in the future.
Pending the results of the Presidential election, Tyson said, the county needs to start looking at how the community could use federal funds available to it.
“I’m looking forward to getting in there and just checking everything out — learning,” he said.
Tyson hopes to collaborate with Junction City and Unified School District 475 officials and improving the county’s relationship with the city and school district.
He believes the situation of Geary Community Hospital will be a challenge. GCH is in the process of extricating itself from millions of dollars worth of debt accrued under a previous CEO.
Tyson said he hoped to talk with hospital officials, “getting in there, sitting down with them, seeing what their needs are, seeing how we can be of assistance and moving forward to try to make sure that we have a place where people here in Geary County can access health care with no problems. I think that’s going to be one of the biggest issues.”
Tyson believes voters showed up for him because he has proven he “really cares” about the community.
“I think that when I spoke to our constituents, they really saw that I care — I wasn’t just going to give them numbers, wasn’t just going to blow smoke their way,” Tyson said. “I truly care about what happens here and I think that for me that was a big push. We do have a lot of young families here.”
He believes some of those young families may have voted for him, believing he represents their interests.
Tyson thanked everyone who ran and everyone who supported him in his election bid.
“I know that everybody cares tremendously about our community,” he said.
Giordano described herself as "cautiously optimistic” about the results of her race. She stressed that her race wasn’t over just yet.
“There’s nothing final until they do the provisional (ballots),” she said.
Both she and Tyson are well aware that they could see their races flip again.
“I’m cautiously optimistic, but I don’t want to declare myself a winner until all of that is done,” Giordano said. “Apparently, (Stimatze and Scholz) thought they won last night as well.”
Until the final counts are in, she is not willing to make a statement.
“I think both Alex and I have a pretty good chance, but like I said, I would not say ‘oh yeah, I’m the winner,’ until all that’s done” she said. “Look what happened last night — everything flipped."
But she is pleased with her apparent win.
“It was very exciting,” Giordano said of her apparent last-minute victory.
If her lead holds, she said she intends to “hit the ground running” and learn what she needs to do to be a leader in the county.
“Once this is over, I hope everybody can be positive and willing to work together and make Junction City/Geary County thrive,” Giordano said.
Stimatze and Scholz did not respond to requests for comment on the race.
This year’s election brought out high numbers of voters across the state and in Geary County.
According to Nordyke, voter turnout was at around 52.98 percent for the general election in Geary County.
“I’m happy about it of course,” she said. “We always want people to come out.”
She’s not sure how this turnout stacks up against past turnouts, but said it was not uncommon for Presidential elections to bring on a higher turnout.
“People are just always interested in that Presidential race,” Nordyke said.
She believes turnout is “largely driven by candidates.”
“I think it just has to do with who’s on the ballot and people feeling like they have a reason to vote,” Nordyke said.
Locally, more voters cast ballots for Trump and Pence than for Biden and Harris, with 5,104 over Biden and Harris’ 3,722. A total of 285 Geary County ballots were cast for Libertarian ticket Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy Cohen and 36 votes were cast for write-ins.
In other local races, incumbent Democrat Tom Hawk of Manhattan is in a close race against his opponent Republican Craig Bowser. Hawk represents Geary, Clay and Riley Counties.
Hawk lost Geary County, according to the most recent count, with 433 to Bowser’s 998. Hawk ultimately beat Bowser with 14,573 votes to Bowser’s 14,241.
On the state level, Republican Roger Marshall won his race against Democratic opponent Barbara Bollier for United States Representative. In Geary County, he won 4,692 votes to her 3,705. Libertarian Jason Buckley received 644 local votes and there were 15 write-ins.
Republican Tracey Mann also won his race against Democrat opponent Kali Barnett for Senate District 1. Mann received 5,089 local votes to her 3,796. Locally, there were 19 write-ins for that race.
All local results are unofficial as of right now. These totals are now up on the Geary County website.