Two new magistrates among Kanawha election winners
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County will have two new magistrates after county voters elected two newcomers to fill 10 available magistrate positions, including one vacated by former Magistrate Carol Fouty.
Fouty, Kanawha County's only Republican magistrate, resigned in August after a 26-year career following an investigation of charges she violated judicial ethics rules. Under an agreement with the state Judicial Hearing Board, Fouty agreed to remove herself from the November election.
Kanawha Chief Circuit Judge Duke Bloom initially appointed Fouty's longtime assistant, Kristen Vieweg, to take Fouty's place, but Vieweg said she did not intend to run for the office. John Jarman, a former candidate for Kanawha County Assessor, was picked by the county Republican Executive Committee to take Fouty's place on the ballot.
But it was another Republican, Mike Sisson, who led the polls with the most votes after unofficial totals for all 166 Kanawha County precincts were tallied on Tuesday.
Newcomer Brent Hall, a Democrat, ousted incumbent Magistrate Paris Workman, one of nine Democrats up for re-election in the magistrate race.
"I worked my butt off, because I knew it was going to be hard to keep a seat," said incumbent Magistrate Julie Yeager, who finished in fifth place on Tuesday. "The two newcomers really worked hard."
A total of 10 Democrats and four Republicans were vying for the 10 magistrate's seats.
Sisson was the top vote-getter, with 29,113 votes. Incumbent Democrats re-elected included Jack Pauley, with 28,609 votes; Pete Lopez, with 28,530; Kim Aaron, with 27,740; Yeager, with 27,332; Ward Harshbarger, with 27,066; Joe Shelton, with 26,668 and Traci Carper-Strickland, with 25,906. Hall was elected with 25,513 votes, followed by incumbent Democrat Tim Halloran, with 24,934.
Those who didn't garner enough votes to make the top 10 were Republican Dianna Graves, with 24,725; Republican Bob Keller, with 24,694; Workman, with 24,548 and Jarman, who finished last with 22,451.
In the county assessor's race, Democrat Sallie Robinson defeated Republican challenger Forest Carper by a comfortable margin of 38,113 votes to 28,640.
Robinson, who has spent nearly three decades working in the assessor's office, decided to run for the office when longtime Assessor Phyllis Gatson announced she would not seek re-election for health reasons.
"We worked hard since February," said Robinson, who came to the Voter's Registration office about 10 p.m. with about 75 friends and supporters, including many employees of the assessor's office. "It's not about me, it's about 'we.'"
Robinson said she has some ideas for changes in the assessor's office, but is holding off on making final decisions. "Right now I just want to get through with the election," she said. "I've got some ideas, but I'm not going to put them out there until the transition team [can meet]."
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, a Democrat, soundly defeated Republican challenger Stephen Dwayne Snead by a vote of 40,121 to 28,528 after unoffical totals were tallied. Snead did not actively campaign, nearly assuring Carper a third term in office.
Kanawha County's other local races were uncontested. Incumbent prosecutor Mark Plants, a Republican, got 50,552 votes. He was unopposed in the primary and general elections.
Democrat Johnny Rutherford also was not opposed in the primary or general while running for sheriff. Rutherford, the brother of current Sheriff Mike Rutherford, received 51,254 votes.
Incumbent County Surveyor Bob Gunnoe, a Democrat, was also unopposed. Gunnoe received 46,837 votes.
Earlier in the day, County Clerk Vera McCormick predicted a heavy voter turnout. Unofficial election returns showed a total of 75,553 ballots cast, 56.5 percent of eligible county voters.
But final election numbers may take several days to collate. McCormick said there were a large number of provisional ballots left to count, though probably not enough to affect the outcome of any county races.
Reach Rusty Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1215.