‘Every vote matters’: Focke wins commission seat after tight race

(Logo by Julie Friejat | Collegian Media Group)

On election night, Republican John Matta led by 10 votes in the race for the District 3 County Commission seat, but the tables have turned. With the official count in, Democrat Kathryn Focke is the winner.

“The message of this election was that every vote matters — no matter how little you think your vote counts. Remember that she was behind and … the election results were sporadic because of advanced ballots,” campaign manager Nathan King said. “It’s so important that people check their registration and make sure to vote.”

Focke received 4,982 votes, just 126 more than Matta.

Focke is a Kansas State alumna and was the Riley County Democratic Party’s chairperson for 12 years. In this race, she campaigned on bringing more transparency to the county government.

With that goal in mind, Focke will host a virtual town hall to interact with her new constituency.

“That was the first thing we wanted to do, if and when she became the commissioner,” King said. “Whether you voted for her or not, she’s going to be a commissioner to serve the entire district.”

Focke will replace two-term Republican County Commissioner Ron Wells in January 2021.

“I just am so incredibly proud of Kathryn, she’s done so much in this campaign … and in the end Riley County voted for Kathryn,” King said. “We had a lot of people who turned out for Kathryn.”

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.