WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners race between incumbent Commissioner Steve Ahmann and challenger Steven Gardner remained razor thin for the District 2 seat throughout the week following Election Day, as Kandiyohi County waited to see if any additional ballots would arrive in the mail. At the end of the day Tuesday, County Auditor Mark Thompson reported only 12 additional ballots were counted, and only one of those ballots cast a vote in the District 2 race.
That single ballot went to Ahmann, but that is not enough to change the projected outcome of the race. As of 4:21 p.m. Tuesday, Gardner had a 13-vote lead with 1,435 votes over Ahmann's 1,422.
Due to the pandemic the state was allowing an extra week for absentee and mail-in ballots to arrive at county election offices, as long as those ballots were postmarked by Nov. 3.
State election law allows a candidate to request a recount of the results. Because the difference separating Gardner and Ahmann is less than half of 1 percent of the total votes cast, any recount looks to be funded by the county.
The county will canvass the election results Thursday morning. Ahmann has seven days following that to decide if he wants to request a recount.
Ahmann did not return requests for comment Tuesday evening.
If the results hold, Gardner will take over as the commissioner for District 2 in January. In a statement to the West Central Tribune, Gardner pledged Tuesday to represent and serve all the residents of District 2 and Kandiyohi County. He also recognized Ahmann for his public service.
"In this election, we proved that we are better together, stronger together, no matter who we are, where we are from, where we live, work, play or pray. We proved that hate is not a Kandiyohi County value, and we proved that seeking justice, loving mercy and walking humbly together wins the day," Gardner said.