LOWVILLE — With the unofficial election results showing a gap between he and his closest competitor that can’t be bridged by absentee ballots, things have become more real for the Lewis County treasurer-elect and now, he is excited to start his new gig.
When the last ballots were counted Tuesday night, Republican Eric J. Virkler had scored 3,051 votes while Independence Party candidate Denise Yost and Democratic candidate Christine Schwendy received 1,332 and 974 votes, respectively.
The “comfortable win” by a 30 percent margin surprised him, Mr. Virkler said Wednesday morning.
In the June Republican primary, Ms. Yost was so close behind Mr. Virkler that the race wasn’t decided until the absentee ballots were counted.
Mr. Virkler said he is very grateful to the people who voted for him and to those who have supported him in his effort to become treasurer.
He also congratulated Ms. Yost and Ms. Schwendy, saying that they both did a good job in their efforts to get elected.
“We all ran good campaigns,” Mr. Virkler said.
Mr. Virkler is currently the executive director of the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency. He will step down from that position before moving into his newly elected role.
“The reality of making this change on January 1 is hitting me now,” Mr. Virkler said, “I haven’t been excited, but now, it’s going to be good. I always think change is good.”
While the tentative budget for next year is complete and will be the subject of a Nov. 19 public hearing, Mr. Virkler said it can be a challenge to enter a new position directly after the end of a fiscal year, as there are many things that need to be done to close the books.
“I’ll need to get in there and learn and to start to get my feet wet, and I guess I’ll go from there,”
Mr. Virkler will be filling the position left vacant when the current treasurer, Patricia O’Brien, retires at the end of the year after dedicating decades of service to the county.
He talked of how he plans to approach his new job at the start in addition to spending some time with Mrs. O’Brien to learn the ropes.
During his campaign, Mr. Virkler was asked if he thought it might be difficult for him to transition from being the head of the IDA to being an elected official.
“I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been paid to try to make Lewis County a better place,” Mr. Virkler said, “I look at what I do now as community service and this, public service, will be just another step in that.”
While Mr. Virkler said the IDA board hasn’t yet chosen his successor, the group has been discussing the matter for some time and are “finalizing the process” that will be followed now that they know he will definitely be leaving.
Although he said he loves the work he does at the IDA, Mr. Virkler said he won’t look back once he’s moved to the treasurer’s office and try to stay involved in the agency’s projects.
“Whoever comes in next isn’t going to want me too involved going forward,” he said.