By Christina Calloway
There will be a new face added to the Roosevelt County Commission and a familiar one come January as a result of Tuesday’s Republican primaries.
Former county commissioner Gene Creighton of Elida beat out incumbent Scott Burton by six votes, securing 97 votes for District 4.
In another close race for the vacant seat District 3 seat, Lewis Shane Lee of the Dora area took 52 percent of the vote against his opponent Charles Bennett, taking 151 votes to Bennett’s 139.
Republican and District 5 Commissioner Kendell Buzard ran unopposed. No Democratic candidates ran for the commissioner districts.
Lee, 42, is excited at his first shot at politics. The rancher and father said it was his wife, children and neighbors who supported him in his run to serve the community.
“I’m very excited about serving the county,” said Lee, who celebrated his victory by taking his wife and children out for pizza. “I was nervous, I’ll admit that. I knew (Bennett) was a worthy opponent, he’s a very intelligent man and I know the voters in the county felt the same.”
Lee is a neighbor of Bennett, a real estate business owner. Bennett did not return requests for comment Tuesday night.
Lee said though he’s ready to take office come January, he won’t try and make any changes immediately until he sees how county government works.
“I’m ready to learn,” he said.
He added that as is his youngest child is finishing high school, he’ll be able to dedicate time to the position.
“I’m excited for the learning opportunity I’ll have because we might all have ideas but until you’re involved in it, you won’t have a grasp on how everything works,” Lee said.
Creighton, 72, is a former two-term commissioner who was elected in 2002. His desire to see change in the county and push for local control compelled him to run again.
“It feels good,” Creighton said of his victory. “It was a real close race and it could have went either way. You feel real fortunate when you win.”
Burton did not return requests for comment Tuesday night.
While a candidate, Creighton said one of the largest issues facing the county was the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a “threatened species” on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s federal register of animals.
Creighton said he agrees with the direction the county is moving in to combat the issue. Commissioners plan to file a lawsuit against FSW.
“It is going to cost the county, the oil industry and road construction lots of money,” Creighton said. “We just need to elect some people …we need some Republicans in Senate.”
Creighton said his first order of business come Jan. 1 is to “get in the flow of things” and see what direction the county is headed in.