By Michael Pineda
It all hit home for Tomas Manske shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday night.
Manske received a phone call from Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader, conceding the race for District 1. Manske thanked his friends and supporters before his emotions got the best of him, punctuating an emotional 24 hours.
With all 18 precincts reporting in, Manske was the unofficial winner, with 52.3% of the vote, receiving 3,129 to Hader’s 2,843. Results will not be officially certified until Friday.
“I will tell you the journey, while it has been a wonderful experience and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the people in the precincts, knowing the families and knowing the support I have had, the journey has been tough,” Manske said. “I have come through a situation in the last 10 months where I’ve had a lot of life challenges. “With that being said, when I threw my hat in the ring to run for county commissioner, I knew it would be a tough challenge. But I was thoroughly blessed with supporters, friends, families and 29 years of being the extension agent and being a person in Canadian County helped me achieve my goals.”
Manske followed the election at the home of a family friend and was joined by supporters who streamed in throughout the evening. As the election continued into the evening, information was at a premium as Manske, and supporters waited impatiently for the latest precincts to report in.
“You know, I have never experienced anything like this,” he said. “I watch the elections on TV and listen to them on the radio and social media. And you sit there and think this should be an easy thing, this shouldn’t be that tough.
“But I will tell you with my first experience in the election arena, I was on pins and needles the last week and a half to two weeks. Really the whole journey. But the last 24 hours were probably the most strenuous challenging, personally as far as election results and waiting for them to come in.”
With one precinct left to report, Hader, who has served as the county commissioner since 2015 called Manske to congratulate him.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve my fellow citizens over the last seven-and-a-half years,” Hader said. “I’m very proud of the many things we’ve accomplished during the growing pains of being the fastest growing county.
“I called Tom to congratulate him. I wish him the best as he will take the reins in January.”
Earlier in the evening, Manske’s friend, Bryan Nelms, talked about the time spent campaigning in District 1. He said knocking on doors did not come naturally to Manske, but it did allow him to build relationships with those he met.
“He was really apprehensive about the door-to-door stuff because he didn’t want to intrude on people’s quiet time or private time with their families,” Nelms said. “But he decided he needed to, and I would drive, and he would walk, and I would navigate. Once he did it, it was beneficial for his campaign, but it really helped him get out and see the people he will be representing and meet the people he will be representing. He actually had people come to the door and say, ‘I know you. I have seen your signs. So-and-so told me to look at your Facebook and I am voting for you.’
“Once Tom got out there, Tom really got to being Tom. Just talking to people and meeting people and listening to what they have to say. Making notes that, ‘I need to remember this. If I win, I need to remember this person and what they told me.’”
Manske will not take office until the beginning of 2023. He will join Tracey Rider as new members on the commission, joining current member Dave Anderson, who represents District 2.
Rider defeated Robert Merrick for the right to represent District 1, which is being vacated by Jack Stewart. Stewart defeated Hunter Zearley in the race for the State Senate in District 18.
Until January arrives, Manske will have some time to prepare for his new job.
“It has not sunk in because my term, when sworn in, won’t begin until January of 2023,” he said. “I am excited. I have had people out tonight that have congratulated me and supported me through the whole thing. Have walked the neighborhoods for me. Have donated and promoted me. So, to have that many people in your corner, you don’t realize it until a night like tonight.
“That truly is a blessing in disguise, and I give all the credit to the good Lord. I turned it over to him six weeks ago. I truly said, it’s in your hands and I want to be of service to the community. I want to take the next step to serve the citizens, just like I’ve always done whether it be volunteering or donating or being involved in the Yukon, Piedmont, Mustang, El Reno chambers. Whatever it is, I truly have been a blessed man.”