And The Winner Is… Stay Tuned
Oskaloosa, Iowa – Mahaska County has dealt with its share of storms in the recent weeks. A brief ice storm, and the impending winter storm. The one that was making the most noise was the special election to fill the vacant county supervisor seat.
The race featured two of the areas higher profile political contenders. The Democrat, Tom Rielly was in his second run for the office, after having been defeated by Mike Vander Molen in the general election in November. Rielly, has been a former Oskaloosa Mayor, a two term State Senator and was the former Chair of the Transportation Committee.
The Republican, Mark Doland, wasn’t so familiar to area residents, but has strong ties to the Republican party. He had served with former high profile candidates Bob Vander Plaats and Michele Bachman. Doland is also a part of the Republican State Central Committee.
The storm that brewed in the county during the short election cycle ended up being a de facto referendum on the regional airport.
So on Tuesday, Mahaska County voters dodged the raindrops and made their way to seven different voting stations located around the county to once again cast their ballots to fill a supervisor position.
Shortly after 9 p.m. those results starting working their way into the Mahaska County Courthouse. When the dust settled, no one candidate was the clear winner. Mark Doland held on to a 16 vote lead over his challenger Tom Rielly. Rielly did exceptionally well in absentee ballots, and there are over 60 outstanding absentee ballots that will determine the winner.
I asked Doland if he was nervous about his lead since he had a poor showing in the absentee ballots.
“Yes, I’m a little nervous… I’m a little… cautiously optimistic. I guess I’ll put it that way.” Doland said, after the final numbers of the evening had been announced.
Doland spent his day on a drive, “trying to get a lot of people out. Beating the bushes, trying to get them to the polls. We knew it was going to be a close election.”
“It was a very close election, and I appreciate the great voter turnout. People showed up in mass today and I appreciate that.” Doland said.
Even though Doland knew it could go either way, he was still surprised by the nail biter it has turned into.
Doland said he will be in contact with the auditor’s office on Wednesday to further familiarize himself with the process of how the vote will continue. “The final canvas will tell the who story,” Doland said. That canvas is set for Monday at the Mahaska County Courthouse.
If you were looking for Tom Rielly at the courthouse as the results came in, you would have left disappointed. Rielly has a long standing tradition of being close to friends and family as the returns come in. But he did offer a few words Tuesday night. “We ran a good campaign. I’ve got no regrets and hopefully votes come my way.”
The following is how the vote broke down by polling center:
Union Mills- Doland – 22 / Rielly – 17 / Total – 39
Leighton- Doland – 228 / Rielly – 29 / Total – 257
Fremont- Doland. – 76 / Rielly – 25 / Total – 102*
Truax- Doland – 38 / Rielly – 31 / Total – 69
Osky 1- Doland – 301 / Rielly – 260 / Total – 561
Osky 4- Doland – 224 / Rielly – 351 / Total – 576*
New Sharon- Doland – 134 / Rielly – 32 / Total – 166
Absentee- Doland – 368 / Rielly – 630 / Total – 998
TOTALS: Doland – 1391 / Rielly – 1375 / Total – 2768
* indicates that there was a write-in vote