By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Two new Canadian County elected leaders started four-year terms this week to usher in 2023.
An official swearing-in ceremony for Canadian County elected officials was Jan. 3 inside courtroom No. 1 at the Canadian County Judicial Building, 301 N. Choctaw.
Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse administered the oath of office to new District 1 Commissioner Tom Manske of Yukon and District 3 Commissioner Tracey Rider of El Reno.
“If I had a crystal ball 100 years ago to see what my life would look like, this would never have appeared,” said Rider, who defeated Yukon’s Robert Merrick (2,488-2,405) in the June 2022 Republican primary to win the post.
It was about eight years ago that people started encouraging her to run for a seat on the El Reno City Council.
Rider did serve five years on El Reno’s governing body, then took over as Canadian County’s new District 3 commissioner Nov. 23 to succeed newly elected District 18 State Sen. Jack Stewart (R-Yukon).
“What I’ve learned is that sometimes, messages from our Lord come through other people,” Rider said. “We just need to be open, to listening and trusting and hearing them. And then to be obedient to what those messages have been.
“Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s scary. Have faith – sometimes in other people – who may see things in you that you don’t see yourself.”
Rider thanked her family, other supporters and Sen. Stewart – who was District 3 commissioner for 12-1/2 years.
While Rider got a six-week “head start” in county government by finishing an unexpired term, Manske became Canadian County’s newest elected official as the calendar turned to 2023.
Manske’s voice cracked as he thanked family members for coming – some from the far reaches of western and eastern Oklahoma – to watch him take his oath as the new District 1 commissioner.
“Henry Ford has the great quote – ‘If you think you can, or you can’t, you are correct’,” Manske said. “Initially, I wasn’t sure about this.
“Several years ago, this was never on my radar. I didn’t have it in my plans to run for county commissioner. But the good Lord – after lots of prayer and reflection – led me here.”
Manske defeated two-term incumbent Marc Hader (3,129-2,843) in the Republican primary to claim the next full term as District 1 commissioner.
He credited the support of his family, friends and constituents for this achievement.
“I am so super-excited about jumping into this position and following in the footsteps of all our great leaders of the past,” Manske told the audience. “We’ve been blessed with some mighty awesome commissioners throughout the years.
“I’m excited to step into the role to make Canadian County one of the best in the state.”
Canadian County’s new District 1 representative said he’ll maintain an open-door policy.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m excited to be a part of the new team to make that happen.”
A NEW CHAPTER
Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson officially welcomed Manske and Rider during a reception inside lobby of the Canadian County Administration Building, 201 N Choctaw.
Anderson, in his fourth term as District 2 commissioner, referred to this “new chapter” in county government.
“There is a lot of excitement about the things that are going to be happening in Canadian County,” said Anderson, of Mustang. “As we serve together, we’ll discover that we have some differences.
“But I pledge – and I think we all agree – we should never let those differences divide us. The three of us – and the other five elected officials – work together every day. I’m just really excited about getting started and seeing the goals that you have set come to reality.”
Other Canadian County officers are Court Clerk Marie Hirst, County Clerk Sherry Murray, County Assessor Matt Wehmuller, County Sheriff Chris West, and County Treasurer Jay Arnold.
Wehmuller started his fourth term this week, but was unable to attend Tuesday’s swearing-in. Arnold will begin his first full term July 1 by state statute. Both were elected without opposition in 2022.
Chairman Anderson further addressed Manske and Rider during the first commissioners’ meeting of 2023 that followed the reception.
“I’m super-excited for the future of our county and working with both of you – even more so than I thought I would be,” Anderson said. “For the last six months, I’ve known that you two would be starting in January. But it’s finally here.
“This is going to be exciting. There’s a lot of things going on.”
Commissioner Rider told Anderson that she and Manske were “glad to be here – under your mentorship.”
Since no other candidates filed for either the District 1 or District 3 seats, Manske and Rider became commissioners-elect after winning the June 28th primary.
Manske has worked as an auctioneer and Canadian County extension educator.
Rider is a former human resources/accounting manager for a Yukon business.