Clark wins GOP commission race in primary

Special school levy narrowly renewed in low-turnout primary

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioner Bill Clark is the apparent winner of a Republican primary race for the Morgan County Commission. Clark, who served more than a year as an appointed commissioner, beat out political newcomer Gary “G.W.” Easton in a close race.

Preliminary election totals reported by the Morgan County Clerk on May 10 show Clark with 1,195 votes and Easton with 1,038 votes. Easton had the lead in four of 13 precincts, but Clark rolled up the remainder of the outlying precincts to secure his nomination. Clark will be unopposed in the November general election.

In other top local races, the special school levy was narrowly renewed for another four years, two incumbents and newcomer Justin Litten were elected to the school board and George Miller won over Ken Reed in the 90th district GOP primary for the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Preliminary totals were being canvassed by the County Clerk’s office and the Morgan County Commission on Monday and Tuesday. During that process, clerks compare the printed voter “receipts” from precinct voting and early voting in a randomly-selected precinct to the totals reported from election day tabulations to confirm the figures. Precinct 13 — Great Cacapon — was the polling place chosen on Monday morning for the primary canvass.

Joyce Spring of the Morgan County Clerk’s office stretches a roll of voting machine data out on Monday morning to begin the process of canvassing the May 10 primary election while County Clerk Kim Johnson-Nickles looks on.

Provisional ballots are also evaluated during canvass. Those would be ballots where there was a question if the voter was property registered, if they had over-voted (chosen too many candidates in a particular race) or if there was a question about that voter’s proper precinct.

Morgan County voters cast a total of 2,701 ballots during early voting, voting by absentee ballot and in precinct voting on May 10. With a county voter roll of 12,513 registered voters, Morgan County’s voter turnout was just 21.59% in this mid-term primary election.

Levy passes, school board elected

Morgan County voters narrowly secured the renewal of the Special School Levy, which puts local dollars into the county school system. Yes votes for the levy came in at 1,434, while 1,124 voters were against another four years of the special school tax.

A new member of the Morgan County Board of Education was elected during non-partisan voting on May 10, and two long-serving members were re-elected to another term. Voters gave strong backing to Justin Litten, casting 1,653 votes for his run for school board. Board president Aaron Close easily won re-election with 1,736 votes and Laura Smith secured her place on the school board with 1,410 votes. Jonathan Slifer came up short in his bid for a board seat, pulling in 562 votes.

Miller tops Reed in House #90

In the race to decide which Republican delegate would hang onto his seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 90th district, George Miller was the candidate who voters chose to send back to Charleston. Miller took the district, which includes parts of Berkeley County, with 1,305 votes over Ken Reed’s 952.

Morgan County voters went heavily for Miller, backing him with 1,168 votes and Reed with 594. Miller has no challenger in the general election in November.

Voters pick Thorne over Rowan

Voters in western Morgan County cast ballots for a delegate seat representing the 89th district. Most of that district sits in Hampshire County. Here in Morgan County, voters favored GOP challenger Darren Thorne over veteran delegate Ruth Rowan, 196 votes to 169. Hampshire County voters followed suit, giving Thorne a very narrow district win with 971 votes over Rowan’s 927. Thorne will be unopposed on the ballot in November.

Mooney fights off McKinley

Locally, voters heavily backed Republican Congressman Alex Mooney over Congressman David McKinley in the GOP primary that included a total of five Republicans. That race to represent the 2nd congressional district went decisively to Mooney, who rolled up 44,806 votes to McKinley’s 29,442 in the 27 West Virginia counties in the 2nd Congressional District.

Susan Buchser-Lochocki earned 3,297 votes, Mike Seckman took 3,049 votes and Rhonda Hercules earned 2,062 votes in GOP primary voting.

Democratic Congressional candidate Angela Dwyer took the most local votes in a two-way party race against Barry Lee Wendell, but lost the party primary across the district. Wendell took in 22,010 votes to Dwyer’s 16,493 across 27 counties.

Wendell will face off against Mooney in the November general election.

Unopposed races

Candidates running unopposed on the GOP ballot were State Senator Charles S. Trump IV, who pulled in 1,787 Morgan County votes in his re-election bid to represent the 15th district. District-wide, Trump collected 7,413 votes across the three-county district, which includes Berkeley, Hampshire and Morgan. He will face no challenge in November.

Locally, County Clerk Kim Johnson-Nickles won 1,959 votes in her re-election effort and Circuit Clerk Melanie Shambaugh took in 1,979 in her bid to earn another term in office. Both will be unopposed on the ballot in November.