Democrats' reactions mixed on election results

While Douglas County Democrats were universally rejected by voters, the presidential victory of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., provided a salve.

Nancy Epstein had the distinction of being the highest polling local Democrat. She received 10,233 votes in her attempt to best Republican Mike Olson. That was 3,718 short of Olson's total, but only 438 votes short of Obama, who was the county's highest polling Democrat.

"I am disappointed that I can't serve my community as a commissioner, but I am looking forward to some opportunities where I've seen a real need in our community. We have so many bright and talented and generous people in our county that I'd like to see our commissioners engage," said Epstein, Democratic candidate for county commission District 5.

Epstein thanked Cindy Trigg for encouraging her to run, Paul Belt who handled her public relations, Nancy Downey for fundraising and Karen Cornett, "who is the best caller in Northern Nevada."

"I would like to thank all of those folks who donated to the campaign, and all of those who voted for me. It was very humbling and meant so much to me. Most of all I would like to thank my husband Kim and daughter Sarah because I couldn't have done it without them, or even got off the ground. They were by my side and encouraging me the whole way," she said Wednesday.

Epstein called the campaign a great experience, and thanked her opponent, Mike Olson.

"He made me a better candidate," she said. "I respect his opinions, and I think he's hard-working and will do a good job."

She said it was too early to decide whether she would be a future candidate.

"This was the first time I ever ran for anything," Epstein said. "It left me feeling encouraged.There are so many talented people working for the county. There are some changes on the horizon with the new county manager and the new commissioners.

"I encourage everyone to be citizens rather than residents, to reach out and pay attention and be involved. We have some tough times ahead and you can really make a difference," Epstein said.

District 1 Commissioner-elect Greg Lynn's opponent, Democrat Anje de Knijf, said she was pleasantly surprised at how nice people were during the race.

"I actually found out more about how our local political system works," she said. "I've never gotten that involved in it before, and it was the opening of a new horizon for me, a new aspect of our county life."

Knijf said she was surprised by her support.

She'd previously said she was running as a backup in case Lynn was defeated in the primary.

"I learned that I had a lot more support than I actually expected," she said. "I'm really pleased."

She said she learned a great deal about the county during her campaign.

"I learned a lot of new things about how our county government works," she said. "This made me stretch my boundaries and try new things."

The first-time candidate said she'd be willing to run again.

"I've had people ask me to do it again for other positions," she said. "It was really interesting. I'm glad for the experience. I'm glad I threw my hat in the ring."

Despite Democrats' setbacks in the county, Obama precinct captain Debra Chappell was still on top of the world.

"This was the most important night of my life other than the birth of my children and my marriage," she said.

"It really meant a lot to me."

Chappell said when she volunteered for the Obama campaign two years ago, she had never been involved in anything with such scope.

She said the results show that while Douglas is still a Republican stronghold, Democrats are taking hold.

"I think it's nice there is a two-party system in Douglas County," she said. "I don't think that's been recognized before."


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