Photo by George Lauby
Bill Henry increased his razor-thin lead Thursday afternoon to win the race for Lincoln County commissioner after provisional ballots were counted.
Henry defeated runner up Ken Main by just 12 votes.
After the polls closed Tuesday on Election Day, Henry held a 9-vote lead, but 50 provisional ballots were yet to be counted. All but eight of the provisional ballots were valid, Lincoln County Clerk Becky Rossell said.
The race to represent western Lincoln County (district 3) turned into a close, three-way affair. Officially, Henry had 667 votes. Main received 655 and Ron Books, 574.
A total of 1,896 ballots were cast for the seat. Henry's margin of victory was 0.63 percent.
An automatic recount of the votes won't be conducted, Rossell said. The margin would have had to be 6 votes or less to trigger an automatic recount, or 1-percent of the winner's total.
Henry advances alone to November general election ballot, because all three candidates were Republicans. Since no Democrats ran in the primary race, Henry will be unchallenged unless someone mounts a write-in campaign, which is rare.
The non-partisan canvassing board also checked all the early ballots along with the Election Day ballots and provisional ballots.
Provisional ballots are cast when a voter arrives at the poll but is not listed on the roll, due to a change of address, change of last name, or failure to register. The voter registers at the poll and then casts their ballot, which is set aside and marked as provisional until the canvassing board checks it for accuracy.
"I feel good about it, it was a clean race," Henry said. "I’m not much of a mudslinger. We had no problem with each other, commingling and setting together Monday at the county commissioners' meeting."
Henry said he tried to be honest and tell voters the way it is.
"Like you, I don’t try to be something I'm not but by gosh I stand up for what I am," he told the Bulletin. "I feel real good about the way it's turned out."
Henry said he knocked on doors, but only about half as many as he originally intended to. He has a job as real estate sales and other things going on. He also said he doesn't have as much energy as he once did. He said he and his family went door-to-door through most of Sutherland and also the center of Hershey, but didn't get to North Platte like they hoped.
"I thought everything went good except for that," he said.
Henry grew up in the far northeast corner of the county.
Henry graduated from District 14 grade school in the Garfield area. But his parents moved to North Platte before his freshman year and he graduated from North Platte High.
His dad bought a dairy southeast of town and developed it into a beef cattle feedlot. When Bill took over, he expanded it. He also bought a semi-truck during the 1980s and drove nights to earn enough money to survive the farm crisis. He expanded the trucking business and operated coast-to-coast.
He started a custom silage harvesting company along with the feedlot, which became a separate enterprise in 1995.
“We chopped virtually all the forage that was chopped in Lincoln County and the surrounding area,” he said. “I probably know every country road that we have, from a business end.”
Henry was inclined to run for commissioner eight years ago, but stepped aside in favor of Willis Roethemeyer. Roethemeyer chose not to run for reelection.
Henry also served on the North Platte school board. He’s spent 23 years on the board of All Points Coop of Gothenburg and is in his 27th year on the Dawson Public Power board.