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Lancaster County Board challenger Rick Vest beat incumbent Todd Wiltgen on Tuesday and will join fellow Democrat Sean Flowerday — who bested opponent Tim Duey — as the newest commissioners.

Vest, 62, beat Republican Wiltgen, 42, with 52 percent of the vote for the District 5 seat, which includes northeast Lancaster County and parts of northeast Lincoln.

Unofficial totals have Wiltgen, a legislative aide who won the election in an open seat four years ago, capturing 48 percent of the vote.

Vest, who retired from BNSF Railway Co. after more than 40 years, said he thinks his years as a blue-collar worker, as well as his work as a claims adjuster and negotiator for the railroad,  connected with voters, as did his work as a certified mediator.

“I think people were looking for someone who could help pull people together and find solutions to the problems facing Lancaster County,” he said. “I am deeply honored by the outcome.”

One of the most important issues for voters he spoke to was criminal justice reform.

Flowerday, 31, handily beat Duey, 35, with 71 percent of the vote to Duey’s 29 percent. Both were newcomers running in an open seat left by Bill Avery, who did not run for re-election.

“I’m just incredibly thankful,” said Flowerday, the state administrator for Pathfinder Support Services, which provides child welfare services to the state. “I grew up in this district, it’s my home, and I want to represent the people who live here. ... The real work begins now.”

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Flowerday, who knocked on 14,000 doors up until about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, said District 1 voters are progressive and want a change, and finding better ways to help those with mental health issues was on many voters’ minds.

“They’re tired of a conservative majority,” he said. “They want a government that helps people, that comes together.”

Deb Schorr, 57, a Republican who has served 15 years representing District 3, which covers southwestern Lancaster County and parts of southwest Lincoln, was re-elected in an uncontested race.

Election results

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist.

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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