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Jefferson County voters pack the polls

By Staff | Nov 9, 2018

CHARLES TOWN — More than 50 percent of registered voters in Jefferson County made their way to the polls to cast ballots in the 2018 election. Of the 40,196 who are registered, 21,001 made their voices heard.

Unofficial results provided by the election staff at the Jefferson County Courthouse Tuesday evening showed that in the local race for Jefferson County Commission, Republican incumbent Jane Tabb held her seat by capturing 52.6 percent of the vote to opponent Robert Barrat’s 46.81 percent. Tabb and Barrat ran in the Middleway District although voters in every district cast ballots for each Commission seat. Democratic candidate Ralph Lorenzetti unseated Republican incumbent Peter Onoszko to win the Harpers Ferry District Commission seat. Lorenzetti is no stranger to public office having served as the county’s prosecuting attorney before his retirement from that position.

In state races, current State Senator John Unger (Dem.) retained his seat against challengers Mike Folk. Unger received 11,195 votes from Jefferson voters to help push him over the top, allowing him to move into his sixth term representing the 16thDistrict.

House of Delegate seats were flipped in two races while one district saw the re-election of the incumbent. Republican candidate Paul Espinosa garnered 57.82 percent of the vote to maintain his seat in the 66thDistrict, defeating challenger David Dinges.

Incumbent Jill Upson (Rep.) was defeated by Democratic challenger Sammi Brown who captured 52.64 percent of the vote in the election according to unofficial results.

Brown, who watched results come in at the Jefferson County Courthouse Tuesday night, shared her excitement over the win.

“I think I was the underdog from the beginning,” Brown said. “I knew we were going to have to do a lot of field work and direct voter contact and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

“I hope to put the community back together,” she added, referring in part to the antagonism within the county over the proposed Rockwool project. While Brown believed that the issue of the Rockwool industrial plant coming to Jefferson and the strong opposition to the company’s locating here, she indicated she did not believe that was a deciding issue in her race.

“I believe folks voted their values,” she added.

She shared that she will focus on economic justice and development that creates a quality of life, allowing development to grow in a way that keeps families local and creates happy and healthy lives.

In the 67thDelegate District, Democrat John Doyle took the seat from incumbent Riley Moore with 55.8 percent of the vote. Unlike Brown, Doyle attributed the Rockwool issue as a deciding factor in his election.

“The vast majority of people in Jefferson County don’t want them [Rockwool] here,” Doyle said. He went on to say that the first thing he plans to do is contact the Governor’s office to seek a meeting to discuss the issue.

Doyle also attributed his win, in part, to teachers who were motivated to change the make-up of the Legislature following last year’s teacher’s strike as well as opponents of Amendment 1 who came to the polls and subsequently cast votes his way.

Having previously served in this delegate seat, Doyle said he decided to seek election again.

“I’m not finished trying to solve problems,” he said.

In addition to addressing Rockwool, Doyle plans to focus on education, especially the creation of a funding model for higher education.

In national races, Sen. Joe Manchin, III (Dem.) retained his seat defeating challenger Patrick Morrisey while Alex Mooney (Rep.) retained his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives against challenger Talley Sergent.

Jefferson County election leader Nikki Painter shared that the process in the county went smoothly.

“Our poll workers did an outstanding job, especially dealing with a higher than normal voter turnout,” she said as she closed her offices Tuesday night.