May 3, 2006 [LINK]

Local elections in Virginia

In Staunton, the only incumbent member of the city council running for reelection this year, Lacy King, won the greatest number of votes, about [22] percent. The other two winners in the race for the three open seats were Bruce Elder, who ran for the Virginia House of Delegates last fall, and Carolyn Dull. Each of them received about 18 percent of the vote, barely edging Andrea Oakes [and Don Wilson, each of whom received just under] 16 percent. Roy Hartless came in last with ten percent. See the Staunton News Leader [and WHSV TV-3].

The Staunton school board race generated some last-minute controversy when it was learned that school superintendent Harry Lunsford sent a mass e-mail message endorsing candidates Ophie Kier and Angela Whitesell. This may have violated public school norms and/or campaign finance laws, but both of those candidates won, as did Roderic Owen. The two candidates who identified most strongly with the Weekday Religious Education (WRE) program, George Ballew and Fonda Gardner, came in last. (For the background on this controversy, see Jan. 24, 2005.)

In nearby Waynesboro, the city council campaign apparently got nasty. Incumbent Reo Hatfield, a Republican, lost his Ward D seat to Lorie Smith, while incumbent Nancy Dowdy held onto her seat in Ward C. Candidates must reside in the ward in which they are running, but the voting for each seat takes place city-wide.

In Herndon, the mayor and city council members who voted in favor of building a center for (mostly illegal) immigrant day laborers were defeated. The Washington Post portrays this as a "backlash," which sounds unduly negative to me. What is wrong when voters express displeasure with the policies enacted by incumbents? Isn't that what democracy is all about? (For the background on this controversy, and then-GOP candidate Jerry Kilgore's position on it, see Aug. 9, 2005.)