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Taylor sweeps primary

By Staff | May 14, 2010

From left, Democratic victor Paul Taylor, Jim Surkamp (D), Ruth McQuade (D), Walt Pellish (R)

Democrat Paul G. Taylor bested two primary opponents, incumbent County Commissioner Jim Surkamp and challenger Ruth McQuade, to clinch the Democratic nod Tuesday in the race for the Shepherds-town’s district County Commission seat.

Taylor will go on to face Republican Walt Pellish in the general election in November.

Taylor received almost 41 percent of the vote, with 1,283 ballots cast in his favor. He was followed by Surkamp, with 927 votes, and Ruth McQuade, narrowly trailing Surkamp by five votes, with 922.

Pellish ran unopposed in his party’s primary, receiving 1,034 votes out of a possible pool of 1,364 Republican ballots cast.

Taylor says he looks forward to the general election against Pellish, saying that both he and Pellish share some similar ideas. “We match on wanting to take the brakes of the County Commission,” said Taylor in an interview on election night. “I think the question is how much?”

Taylor was unable to go into detail on the political differences between himself and Pellish, saying only that he would have to study Pellish’s public comments and compare those with his own experiences and opinions.

Perhaps in a preview of his general election platform, Taylor emphasized that he wanted to “build consensus and bring civility” to the County Commission. “I want to build bridges, I really do.”

Voters are ready for a change, says Taylor. “I think they’ve spoken clearly, and I want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to represent them.”

Incumbent Democrat Jim Surkamp, already under indictment for alleged voting irregularities in the 2009 zoning referendum, says that he’s going to take time to reflect on his political future. “It’s very hard being a commissioner,” said Surkamp during a brief phone interview on Wednesday. “I’m stepping back and thinking. That’s all I want to say.”

While Surkamp lost the county-wide primary election, he did however win the Shepherdstown District which he represents, winning precincts 31-35 with 38 percent of the vote. Taylor only received 31 percent of the vote in the Shepherdstown District, McQuade 30 percent.

Rather, Jefferson County voters outside of the Shepherdstown District swept Taylor to victory, with Taylor taking 45 percent of voters outside of the Shepherdstown District, McQuade taking nearly 30 percent with Surkamp fairing the worst, 24 percent, among voters outside the Shepherdstown District.

This ray of sunshine in Surkamp’s otherwise dreary election returns did not go unnoticed by the would-be candidate. “I can’t thank Shepherdstown enough for seeing through the smoke and mirrors,” said Surkamp.

McQuade, the third-place finisher in the primary race for Surkamp’s seat, said she was disappointed in the results of the primary. “I’m hopeful and confident that some of the issues that I’ve raised, that Mr. Taylor will continue to raise some of those same issues as he runs in the general,” said McQuade on election night.

McQuade says the race played out in this manner because “there was an enormous frustration and dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in the County Commission.”