Pawhuska businessman Steve Tolson on June 30 defeated incumbent at-large City Councilor Rodger Milleson by a count of 395-208. Tolson received 65.51 percent of the vote.
The general election for the at-large seat had originally been scheduled for April 7, but it was postponed until June 30 as a result of concerns about COVID-19. The delay, and the placement of the race on a ballot that included numerous other issues, seemed to have been beneficial in terms of turnout.
While 426 votes were cast in the Feb. 11 primary for the council seat, 603 votes were cast June 30.
Tolson said he continued to campaign some during the COVID-19 delay, by making phone calls, sending post cards and using personal notes to encourage specific voters. He also said that he thought the placement of the council election on the June 30 ballot with county and state matters gave a boost to turnout.
“I just have to think that had something to do with it,” Tolson said. A Pawhuska native, he is in the real estate and insurance businesses through the Tolson Agency, located downtown.
Milleson, who served a three-year term on the council, is the owner of Milleson Oilfield Service. Also a Pawhuska native, Milleson saw his vote total June 30 rise, just as Tolson did, due to increased participation. In the Feb. 11 primary, Tolson received 204 votes out of 426 cast, and Milleson received 107.
“Thanks for the support,” Milleson said, when contacted for a comment on the outcome. “I enjoyed my service for the city. I wish Steve Tolson all the luck in the world.”
Tolson described himself as “very proud and honored and humbled,” and said he looks forward to beginning to offer his efforts in service to the people of Pawhuska. It is anticipated he will be sworn in on July 14.
“Everybody’s there for the purpose of benefiting the community,” Tolson said. He has not previously served on the Pawhuska City Council, but has said he viewed the 2020 election for the at-large seat as an opportunity to finally seek to hold municipal elected office.