Although the votes from the 2020 primary election will not be official until Friday morning, it appears Dr. Justin Heath has upset incumbent Harry “Bus” Scharmann for the Churchill County Commission District 1 seat.
Scharmann, a retired dean of the Western Nevada College’s Fallon campus and interim superintendent for the Churchill County School District, was seeking his third term. He trailed by almost 200 votes, 1,881 to 1,686 as of Tuesday evening. Heath capture 52.79% of the vote. Since no Democratic candidates ran for District 1, Heath will take his oath of office in January.
County Clerk Linda Rothery said her office must count any mailed-in ballots postmarked June 9, but the deadline for counting those ballots was Tuesday. She said the county commissioners will canvass the votes for all offices Friday morning at a special meeting and officially declare the winners for Commission Districts 1 and 3 and the Mosquito, Vector and Noxious Weed Abatement Board.
The Clerk’s office said more residents voted in this primary election than they did in 2018, but the extensive mail-in process, which was implemented by Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavaske because of the coronavirus pandemic, has made the counting process slower.
Heath grew up in Fallon and graduated from Churchill County High School in 1993. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps for five years and then attended the University of Nevada, Reno and the medical school at Touro University of Osteopathic Medicine. He finished his Navy career as a physician at Naval Hospital Lemoore, Calif., in the ROTC program.
Heath said he ran for county commissioner to serve his community by keeping Churchill County a safe place to live and raise a family but also to continue to improve the health and quality of life for county residents.
The District 3 race, though, will have a general election. In the Democratic race, Kelli Kelly defeated Churchill County educator, Keith Boone, 730 votes to 406. She will face the winner of the Republican race, Gregory S. Koenig, a former school district trustee.
“I have only the best wishes for my primary opponent, Keith Boone— this was the first time that a commissioner seat has appeared on the democratic primary ballot in Churchill County since 1988, and I am proud to be a part of the most diverse group of candidates in years,” Kelly said in a written statement.
Koenig defeated Michael “Mick” Casey with 63.96% of the vote, 2,265 to 1,277.
“I decided to run for county commissioner to help preserve the conservative values that this county was traditionally espoused,” Koenig stated in his campaign. “I feel like our rights are being attacked on all sides.”
Koenig said he believes the rural counties, including Churchill County, are not being adequately represented.
“We need to do all we can to protect our rural way of life,” he said.
Marion Jonte was the sole candidate for the Mosquito, Vector and Noxious Weed Abatement Board. He received 4,986 votes.
Churchill County voters also voted to retain Dr. Robin Titus as their Assembly 38 representative. Her district represents both Churchill and Lyon counties. Titus, who was first elected in 2014, defeated Jeff Ulrich, 6,736 to 1,944. In Churchill County, she pulled in 2,899 to 744 votes.
Incumbent Republican Congressman Mark Amodei easily defeated his challengers, but his race looming for the general election may be one of his toughest since he was first elected to the Congressional District 2 seat in a 2011 special election.
The Carson City native defeated his nearest challenger, Joel Beck, 57,883 to 10,479. Jesse Douglas Hurley captured 3,096 votes. He outdistanced Beck, 3,001 to 430 votes. Hurley had 155.
On the Democratic side, Patricia Ackerman, a resident of Douglas County, had a strong showing against Clint Koble, who ran in 2018 and lost to Amodei, 167,435 to 120,102 votes.
Ackerman received 26,709 votes or 49% with Koble having 11,438 votes. Ed Cohen had 6,763 votes, and Rick Shepherd, 3,347. She outdistanced Koble, 539-211 in Churchill County. Cohen had 137.