Among 10 choices for the Park County Commission, Republican voters picked incumbent Joe Tilden of Cody, Dossie Overfield of Cody and Lloyd Thiel of Clark in Tuesday’s primary election.
Barring an unexpected twist or the late emergence of another contender, the three candidates will be unopposed in November’s general election, with Overfield and Thiel poised to replace outgoing commissioners Loren Grosskopf and Tim French.
As the results began coming in Tuesday, it became clear that Tilden — who led the field with 4,129 votes — and Overfield (3,254 votes) had the two top spots locked up. The third seat, however, appeared extremely close. Late into the evening, Thiel and fellow candidates Richard George, Pat Stuart and Zach Bowman were separated by less than 1 percentage point.
But the picture changed dramatically when the Powell area’s votes were finally added in, as massive support inside and outside the city of Powell vaulted Thiel ahead of the rest of the pack. He wound up with 2,563 votes, beating George by 479 votes to advance to the general election and apparent seat on the commission.
Thiel, a rancher and excavation contractor, described himself as humbled by and grateful for the results. And Thiel said he won’t forget the support that put him over the top, either.
“How do you not feel, I hate to use the word obligated, but it’s pretty obvious that I would be more sensitive to Powell issues — as long as they’re good for the whole of Park County,” he said, calling Powell his hometown.
Thiel also reiterated what he’s said throughout his campaign — that he’s running to represent all of Park County and won’t be singling any one area out. “I’m not representing a particular geographic area: I’m running to represent the hard-working, tax-paying people that just want honest, common sense decisions,” he said. Thiel attributed his success in Powell to the fact that more people know him here.
He won nine precincts, including Clark (where he lives), rural Powell, parts of the city of Powell, Ralston/Heart Mountain and Sunlight/Crandall.
Tilden’s support, meanwhile, was extremely widespread, as Republicans in every part of Park County voted to re-elect him. Tilden finished in the top three in all 29 of the county’s precincts and won 18 of them. He topped the field in most of the city of Cody, rural Cody, the North and South forks of the Shoshone River, the Meeteetse area and the Willwood.
“I’m tickled; I’m happy,” Tilden said Wednesday. “The bottom line is being an elected official, you hope you’re doing a good job for people and when you run for re-election and are the No. 1 vote-getter, it’s just, it makes you feel good about yourself and what you’ve been doing.”
“It means that you are doing the right thing by the citizens of Park County,” Tilden said.
In a Wednesday afternoon Facebook post, Tilden thanked voters and predicted that Overfield and Thiel will make “great” commissioners.
Overfield, a former Northwest Rural Water District manager and Cody school board member, similarly thanked voters.
“I appreciate their show of support and I’m excited to get in to do the job,” Overfield said.
Both she and Thiel have been regularly attending commission meetings this year.
Leading up to the election, Overfield said she had felt like she’d found a receptive audience.
“I know a lot of the people in Cody because of my school board time, but I felt comfortable in Powell, very nice to visit with those folks, went down to Meeteetse, talked to people there,” she said.
Overfield said some supporters told her that she and Tilden had good chances to win two of the three seats, but “I just, I guess needed to see it,” she laughed.
Overfield won a precinct in the city of Cody while finishing as runner-up in 15 others, including in and around Cody, the North and South forks, Crandall and a part of rural Meeteetse.
The only other candidate to win a precinct was Cathy Marine of Powell. The former University of Wyoming and Northwest College educator topped the competition in one part of the city of Powell. Marine finished third in the northeastern part of the county, including in and around Powell, but she received relatively little support in the other precincts. Marine finished eighth overall.