Last week’s election was the fifth time in a row that the Morgan County Commission seat from Magisterial District #1 changed hands. The sprawling district includes Town of Bath, Paw Paw, Great Cacapon and parts of southern Morgan County.
The last time a commissioner was reelected to that seat was when Brown Norton, a Paw Paw Democrat, won a third term in 1982. Six years later, Norton was defeated by Richard Gay, who, in turn, was defeated by Phil Maggio in the 1994 Republican Primary. Then, in 2000, Maggio was narrowly defeated by Democrat Bob Ford, who didn’t seek reelection in 2006. At that point, Brenda Hutchinson, also a Democrat, took the seat by winning every precinct. Last week, Hutchinson was defeated by Ford, back this time as a Republican.
Sooner or later, someone will break this long stretch of one-termers, but who knows when?
One of the quirks of the voting was that nearly 400 people – more than 5% of those who cast ballots – just didn’t vote at all in a high-interest contest that Ford won by only 127 votes unofficially.
Though last week’s local voter turnout was reported high in some precincts, it was actually only about 61%. Turnout nationwide was said to be down from the last two presidential elections. Morgan County’s presidential vote of 64% for Romney and 33% for Obama was similar to the McCain/Obama matchup of 2008, though Obama scored a few percentage points higher then.
Republican candidates started with a distinct advantage in Morgan County since 1,159 straight GOP ballots were cast here compared to 571 straight Democratic ballots.
Local voters were pretty much deadlocked on whether to change the state constitution to allow a sheriff to have more than two successive four-year terms in office. That carried by about a dozen votes here, but failed statewide. It all comes down to the popularity of a county’s sheriff and voters’ reluctance to give too much power to one person.
Now that it’s all over, it’s time to get back to everyday life, which may be no small step. Some folks are always embittered after an election in which their favorite candidate loses, but that’s how it’s always been.
A recent national poll showed that a quarter of Americans had a personal relationship that turned negative due to the election. That’s tragic. No one should fall out with friends or family because of who they chose to vote for. If something like that has happened in your life, reach out to that other person now. We all have to live together.