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County gets woman's touch

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Stepping into her new role as Ellis County commissioner, Barbara Wasinger has broken new ground.

As the first woman ever elected to the Ellis County Commission, Wasinger, a Republican who serves as a Hays city commissioner, garnered a convincing win over Democratic challenger Dennis Pfannenstiel for the Second District Ellis County commissioner seat.

Unofficial results Tuesday night showed Wasinger with 2,131 votes and Pfannenstiel with 1,680 votes.

"It's an exciting new opportunity, and I'm deeply grateful for the chance to do this," Wasinger said. "I have to thank everyone who supported me.

"I'm very excited and looking forward to serving Ellis County."

Wasinger's election will leave her position on the Hays City Commission open when she takes county office in January.

Hays city commissioners will have two or three weeks to appoint a replacement following her taking county office.

Pfannenstiel, who served as an Ellis County commissioner for eight years before losing to Republican Glenn Diehl in 2008, said he was glad for the opportunity to campaign again this year.

"I think we had a clean race," he said. "It wasn't negative or dirty or anything like that.

"I'm satisfied. Just wished the outcome was better. ... But life goes on."

Both Pfannenstiel and incumbent Third District Ellis County Commissioner Dean Haselhorst visited with friends at the Hays VFW as election results rolled across the bottom of big-screen TVs.

Haselhorst said he was pleased negative campaigning had not surfaced in his race with Republican Ron Adams. Unofficial results Tuesday night showed Haselhorst with 2,541 votes and Adams with 1,923 votes.

Haselhorst said he's glad he'll have the chance to continue working on county building projects.

"When we have the grand opening two or three years down the road," he said. "That's the part I'm looking forward to more than anything is being able to see the EMS/Rural Fire project happen."

The future project to remodel the Ellis County jail also ranks high on Haselhorst's to-do list.

He said all three commissioners will play a key role in promoting a sales tax referendum to fund the building projects.

"Every commissioner is going to have to be on board, and we're going to have to be good salesmen," Haselhorst said.

Farther down Vine Street, Adams was getting a jump on finishing up election-night duties before attending a Republican Party get-together at Thirsty's Brew Pub & Grill.

"I just pulled up here, because I've been collecting signs from all over town," he said pointing out his pickup bed loaded down with campaign signs.

During the campaign, Adams became a familiar face at Ellis County Commission meetings. He said it is unfortunate few community members attend the meetings.

He also said Haselhorst had worked hard throughout the campaign, walking door-to-door, and Haselhost's win was deserved.

"The people decided," Adams said. "At least they had a choice to decide instead of just one box to check."

One Adams campaign supporter at the Republican get-together appeared ready to draft him for another run.

"Thanks for standing up and running," Ruth Legleiter, Hays, said. "That takes a lot of courage to do that.

"When's the next election? Just leave the sign in my yard for next time."