Primary election is next Tuesday, May 8

Morgan County voters will take to the county’s 13 precincts to cast ballots in the state’s primary election next Tuesday, May 8. Early voting also continues at the Morgan County Courthouse through Saturday, May 5 in the first floor County Clerk’s office.

Voters will choose three school board members and two Circuit judges in nonpartisan races at the polls. They’ll also decide whether to continue the local school tax that adds dollars to the Morgan County school system on top of state school funding.

Voters will also decide several party primaries for elected offices from the Morgan County Commission up to the race for a U.S. Senate seat representing West Virginia.

Morgan County has 13,201 registered voters, according to records from the County Clerk’s office following the close of voter registration for the primary.

The county’s voters include 5,753 registered Republicans, 4,109 with no party affiliation, 2,916 registered Democrats, 277 registered Independents and a handful of Green, Mountain, Libertarian and other party voters.

Voter registration is up from the November 2016 general election, when the county had 13,089 voters.

Ballot challenges

Questions about the ballot have marred the start of voting in this primary election.

Early voters, and those who have studied the sample ballot published in this paper, were misdirected in the nonpartisan race for Morgan County School Board. The ballot tells voters how many candidates they can choose from each of the county’s Magisterial districts. Signs clarifying the instructions for the school board race have been prepared for early voting and precinct voting, according to County Clerk Kim Nickles.

Questions about the residency of candidate Tally Reed in the race for the House of Delegates seat in the 59th district reached as far as Charleston in the first days of early voting.

Tally Reed is a Republican running in the primary against former delegate Larry Kump of Falling Waters.

Morgan County school board

Seeking three seats on the Morgan County Board of Education are: James D. Clark Jr., Aaron Close, Alice Lantz, Eric Lyda, Pamela Mann and Laura Smith. All are seeking a four-year term on the board.

Because of rules about the make-up of the school board, no more than two members can serve from a single magisterial district. Clark, Lyda, Lantz and Close are all residents of Magisterial District #4, which covers northern Morgan County. Voters can choose two of the four to serve on the board. Close, the vice president of the school board, is the only incumbent in the district.

Smith and Mann are residents of Magisterial District #1, which encompasses downtown Berkeley Springs and the entire western portion of Morgan County. Smith is on the board now, serving out the remainder of Patricia Springer’s term. Voters can choose one or both of the district’s candidates for the school board, despite instructions on the ballot that only one from that district can be picked for the board.

Circuit judge

Eastern Panhandle voters will pick two judges for the 23rd judicial circuit, which includes Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

One judge will serve out the unexpired term of the late John Yoder. The Division 2 race includes Debra McLaughlin of Berkeley Springs, who was appointed to serve in Yoder’s spot on the bench until the May election, and David Hammer of Shepherdstown.

Voters will also pick a judge to fill the unexpired term of Gray Silver III, who has retired. Judge Silver served as a judge in Division 4 of the 23rd judicial circuit. Attorneys David Camilletti of Jefferson County, Kim Crockett of Berkley County and Judge Steven Redding of Berkeley County are candidates for Silver’s seat.

County races

Voters will decide a Republican primary race for the County Commission seat held by Republican Bob Ford. Ford is seeking re-election to a third six-year term, but Republican challenger Sean Forney is looking to take the GOP slot on the November ballot.

Stacy Schultz is unopposed in the Democratic primary for that commission seat. Schultz, a former commissioner, will square off against the winner of the Republican primary come November.

Prosecuting Attorney Dan James will face no opposition in his run for election as prosecutor. James was appointed to the job last year but must be elected to serve out the remainder of the unexpired four-year term of Debra McLaughlin.

Statehouse races

Delegate Daryl Cowles (R-Morgan) of Berkeley Springs is seeking a seventh two-year term representing the 58th district in the West Virginia House of Delegates. He is unopposed in the GOP primary primary.

Berkeley Springs resident Bibi Hahn is unopposed in the Democratic primary as she seeks her party’s nomination to run for the 58th district seat held by Cowles. The 58th district includes Morgan and parts of Hampshire counties.

State Senator Charles Trump (R-Morgan) is unopposed in the GOP race for State Senate representing the 15th district, which includes Morgan County.

The Republican primary race for a seat in the House of Delegates for the 59th district in between pharmacist Talley Ranels Reed and Larry Kump. The 59th district includes the eastern end of Morgan County into Berkeley County.

Democrat John Isner is seeking the Delegate seat for the 59th district, but is unopposed in his party’s primary. He will face off against the winner of the GOP primary in November.

Voters will also pick from among candidates vying for their party’s nomination for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, second Congressional district and U.S. Senate.

A sample ballot is included in this week’s Messenger.

Early voting continues through this Saturday, May 5.

Voters will cast ballots in the county’s 13 precincts on primary election day, Tuesday, May 8. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Voters must present an ID when they go to the polls, following a law change in West Virginia. Questions about ID or other election matters can be directed to the Morgan County Clerk’s office at 304-258-8547 or the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office at 304-558-6000.