Carrizales, Neves emerge from crowded field of commissioner candidates

Incumbent Felix Carrizales of Burlington and challenger Dave Neves of Otto were the two candidates that emerged from a crowded, 12-candidate field in Tuesday’s primary election to win the Republican nomination for two seats on the Big Horn County Commission.

Unless a write-in qualifies and agrees to run on the Democratic side, Carrizales and Neves will have a clear path to joining Deb Craft of Basin on the three-person commission, which for the first time in many years will not include a representative from north Big Horn County.

In unofficial election results posted late Tuesday night, Carrizales came away with 1,204 votes, or 20 percent of the 5,748 votes cast in the commission race.  He was the leading vote-getter in Basin, Emblem, Greybull, Shell and Byron.

Neves performed very well on his home turf, winning Burlington (by 13 votes over Carrizales), Otto and Hyattville, en route to gathering 965 votes, or 16 percent of the votes cast.

Lisa Kimsey was the only candidate who prevented Neves and Carrizales from sweeping the south, as she received the most votes in her home community of Manderson, but finished with just 246 votes (4 percent).

Keith Grant of Lovell ran a strong third, garnering 794 votes (14 percent).  Grant served on the commission from 1999 through 2014 and dominated the north end with the exception of Byron, winning the Lovell, Cowley, Deaver and Frannie precincts by healthy margins. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor showing in the south, where Carrizales and Neves proved too strong.

Big Horn County voters also cast 505 votes (9 percent) for Linda Harp of Basin, 467 votes (8 percent) for Nick Lewis of Lovell, 432 votes (8 percent) for Dalton Banks of Lovell, 300 votes (5 percent) for Nash Jolley of Lovell, 251 votes (4 percent) for Joe Wildman of Manderson, 246 votes (4 percent) for Kimsey, 219 votes (4 percent) for Clayton Dragoo of Basin, 200 votes (3 percent) for Fred Willert of Basin and 165 votes (3 percent) for Tim Patrick of Manderson.

Carrizales was also the top vote-getter in the primary election four years ago, when he garnered 1,985 votes and John Hyde got 1,789 to win the Republican nomination that night in a much less contested race.

“I am thankful for the support of the people of this county,” Carrizales said of his election win. “The open door policy I had the first four years is still in place. I want to hear from you and promise to continue to listen. 

“We must all work for the betterment of this county. Thank you Big Horn County.”

For Neves, the triumph was especially sweet.  Two years ago, he lost by just 32 votes to the eventual winner, Deb Craft of Basin, by a count of 610 to 578,

“I’m grateful to the voters and grateful to have been elected,” said Neves late Tuesday night. “I think all the candidates ran good campaigns.  There was nothing negative about any of them.”

Neves said it’s too early to say what his goals for a first term would be, noting that a write-in candidate could still emerge on the Democratic side.  But if he’s fortunate enough to win in November, he said he’d “like to work on a natural resource plan” and then “evaluate what the county’s needs are and what the commissioners are doing now.

“Tonight, though, I’m just grateful for the support I received.”

by nathan oster