From the time the first precinct results rolled in, District 3 commissioner Joe Wray lagged behind Republican challenger Jerry Pittman.
At party headquarters at the Brown County History Center, Wray kept an eye on the tallies, carrying his trademark smile throughout the night. Once it was clear Pittman had an insurmountable lead, Wray walked over and congratulated him.
Pittman ended the night with 2,010 votes to Wray’s 1,487.
Wray said he was disappointed but ready for the next thing.
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“You don’t run for second place,” Wray said. “But, it is what it is, and that’s OK. I’ve served four years, am proud of what we got accomplished; I’m thankful to the people that gave me the opportunity to serve four years.
“They wanted a change, and that’s fine.”
Wray said he doesn’t know if he will seek public office in the future, but he’s open to the idea if he feels there is a place he can be of service.
“We’re not here for the ‘thank-yous,” he said. “We’re here to solve the problems the best we can.”
Pittman has served on the Brown County Council since 2011, when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He also ran against Wray in 2012 for commissioner; Wray won that race.
The most important part of the commissioners’ job is being open and honest about the county’s business and what is actually going on, Pittman said.
“It’s a job that requires a commitment, because it’s a public trust, and I consider that to be a very solemn responsibility,” Pittman said.
Democrat Tricia Bock, who ran unopposed in the May 3 primary, will face Pittman in the November general election.
Among her experience working for the American Cancer Society, local insurance agents and as a legal assistant, she also noted her interest in reading and in helping others. While the last two may seem lesser qualifications, they are not, she said.
“Reading, understanding and listening seem to be the things we need most in a commissioner,” she said.
Bock said Brown County’s most pressing infrastructure needs are water, sewer and improving the condition of local roads. She wants to find any unnecessary spending that can be cut, and consider using rainy-day funds for fixing immediate problems.
“If we are saving funds for ‘the rainy day,’ I believe it has come,” she said.
The county has been making headway on road funding but may have to raise more revenue to make up shortfalls in state funding, Pittman said.
“I hate raising taxes for anything, but we have to take care of the roads,” Pittman said.
He wants to see more cooperation among and within government units — such as what has recently been happening between the Brown County Redevelopment Commission and the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board, he said.
Neither Republican Dave Anderson — the current District 1 commissioner — nor Democrat James Oliver faced an opponent in the primary.
Anderson has served one term as commissioner and served two terms as sheriff.
Oliver has not served in office, but has served on the boards of the Brown County Literacy Coalition and Habitat for Humanity.
Anderson said he was pleased with recent cooperation between the commissioners and county council, but he’s concerned about how many areas of infrastructure — from roads to Internet service — seem to require extensive and expensive work. Yet, building up that infrastructure is essential to bolstering our economy, he said.
Oliver said he would like to see those problems addressed in a single, comprehensive way. For example, when work was being done on one utility, installation could be done for another, too.
Yet, the county has financial limitations. “It’s such a complex job, and so many different priorities,” Oliver said. “We’re going to have to prioritize what is important to us.”
Commissioner District 1
Commissioner District 3