Kaine Returns To Senate, Luria Bumps Taylor from House In High-Stakes Election

By Linda Cicoira — Democrats prevailed in statewide elections Tuesday for U.S. Senate and Congress, according to unofficial results reported by the Virginia Department of Elections. 

The results were certified locally but are not scheduled to be confirmed by the state board of elections until Nov. 19. 

Voters returned Sen. Timothy M. “Tim” Kaine to the post he has been serving since 2013. He beat out challengers Corey A. Stewart, a Republican, and Matt J. Waters, a Libertarian. Voters also selected Elaine G. Luria for Congress over Rep. Scott Taylor. 

Voting was steady at Eastern Shore polls despite the on and off rain. In Accomack, absentee ballots were up, close to those of a presidential election.

An unofficial tally showed Kaine, (who was also the 70th Virginia governor and 38th lieutenant governor) with 56.87 percent of the votes statewide. Kaine was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the last presidential election. Stewart received more than 41 percent of the ballots. Waters garnered 1.86 percent. 

“I’m going to try to make you proud,” Kaine said in an address to fellow Democrats after winning the election. “I’m going to try to set an example of leadership when God knows we need some good examples …  Let’s just live like ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ rather than Virginia is for judgers, or doubters, or haters … you guys sent a powerful message tonight about who we are.”

Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County, Va., Board of Supervisors, got the most votes in Accomack County, nearly 52 percent. Kaine followed with about 47 percent. Waters, a political fundraiser from Hampton Roads, lagged with just over 1 percent.

Kaine took more than 57 percent of the ballots in Northampton, followed by Stewart with nearly 46 percent and Waters with more than 1 percent.

Fifty-one percent of ballot-markers chose Luria, who served for 20 years as a surface warfare officer and nuclear engineer in the Navy. Taylor, the incumbent, received nearly 49 percent of the vote. In Accomack, more than 55 percent of voters picked Taylor. Luria took those votes in Northampton. Luria also won in Hampton City, James City County, Virginia Beach City, Norfolk City, and Williamsburg City. Taylor took Poquoson City and York County.

Voters in Virginia said, “Yes” to the constitutional amendment that asked, Should a county, city, or town provide a partial tax exemption for real property subject to recurrent flooding if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property?  More than 73 percent in Accomack and more than 67 percent in Northampton agreed.

Voters also gave a nod for the spouse of a veteran, who was totally and permanently disabled, to move to a different primary residence and still get a real estate tax exemption. Accomack agreed with about 83 percent. More than 82 percent in Northampton voted in favor of the amendment.

ACCOMACK COUNTY

Commissioner Of the Revenue 

Deborah T. Midgett, of Parksley, who has been serving as Accomack’s commissioner of the revenue since the unexpected death of Commissioner Leslie Savage in July, ran for the job without opposition and received 98.4 percent of the vote. She is a longtime deputy commissioner. Another election for the full four-year term will be held in November 2019. She got close to 10,800 votes. Write-in ballots totaled 168.

Onley

In Onley, Councilman Matt D. Hart won the mayor’s spot by a single-vote lead against former Councilman W.R. “Bill” Ferguson, with 110 to 109. There were 17 write-in votes that did not change the outcome.

“In May of 2014, I won a seat on the Onley Town Council on a write-in campaign by one vote,” Hart wrote on his Facebook page. “If these results are final, which it states they are, I will have won yet again by just one vote. Unbelievable!!! Your votes do matter, and this is proof. I would first like to thank my opponent, Mr. Bill Ferguson. Bill and I communicated almost daily and we both understood the importance of a clean, positive campaign. True leaders don’t put others down, they pick them up and that is exactly what we did … Thank you to all my supporters who showed up big at the polls. This was the highest voter turnout in the town’s history. I promise you that I will do everything in my power to make this the best town in America. Congratulations to all those elected to town council, I look forward to working with you and I’m hopeful we can get things done.”

Ferguson also posted on Facebook Tuesday night. “I am thankful so many people expressed confidence in me for my bid for mayor of the great town of Onley … God has blessed me in so many ways, apparently quite a few people had confidence in me for a very responsible position, and I’m thankful that I have children who are wonderful, a roof over my head, food in the fridge including a huge deer compliments of my son and I have lived long enough to see a wonderful grand baby brought into the world … Someone told me tonight ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings,’ well even if she does sing, and doesn’t call out my name, I’m fine. God either causes things to happen or allows things to happen, and I’m not going to question Him because, by design, it is best we don’t see what other plans He has for us.”

Mayor Dawn Dize, who served on the town council for decades, was appointed to the top post after the recent death of Mayor Jack Pierson. She did not seek election to that spot or another term on the council.

Claudia Carpenter Harmon, a newcomer, was the top vote-getter for Onley Town Council with 144. Councilman Woody W. Zember got 143. Next was former Mayor Billye D. Custis with 130. Councilman Henry E. “Ned” Finney and Planning Commissioner Rose M. Pierson, widow of the late Mayor Pierson, both took 129 votes. Councilwoman Susan M. Rillo was returned with 127 votes.

Unsuccessful were Councilman Melvin R. “Ted” Bliss Jr. with 87 votes, former Councilman John L. Dennis, Custis’ husband, with 69, Jason E. Byelich with 53, Theodore F. Cathey Jr. with 46, and Jerry D. Savage with 35.

Painter

Mayor Connie W. Campbell, of Painter, was returned with 100 percent of the vote. The six council members were also re-elected without opposition. They are Kim Randall Savage, Stephen J. Hearne, Eric Talmadge Harris, James Sturgis, Barry Chance Frey, and Thomas Lee Willett.

Melfa

Charles R. Wilbur ran unopposed for mayor of Melfa and garnered nearly 93 percent of the vote.  Councilmen James R. Wilson and David Allen Peffer and newcomer James D. Brown won seats on the council. There were 88 write-in ballots cast, which selected the additional three needed to fill the council. Jessica Hargis got 18 votes. Brian Langley garnered 23. And Greg Spady took 21.

Bloxom

Former Councilwoman Jenny K. Kreisl got nearly 98 percent of the vote in her quest for mayor. The five who ran for six council seats were elected. They are council members Samuel H. Bloxom Jr., Louella H. Fox, and Christopher F. Kreisl (the new mayor’s husband), and Michael P. Barnes Jr. and R. Scott Callander. There were 24 write-in votes. Thomas Beasley got seven of those votes and is eligible to take the sixth seat on the council.

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY

By Stefanie Jackson

As Virginians voted to fill the two highly desired seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, it appeared the national politics had ruffled the feathers of Northampton County voters.

Ricky Warden, who was assisting Northampton Democratic Committee representative Ruth Betcher outside the Exmore fire station on Tuesday, was asked why he came out to the polls.

“I think Donald Trump makes everybody want to vote,” he answered.

Betcher seemed to agree. “I just think we need a change,” she said.

Citizen Ed Stetar echoed Betcher’s remark. He voted because “It’s the only way to change things.”

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” he said.

But not every voter sought change. Another citizen, Judy Beasley, believes the nation is getting better, and she wants the country to stay on its present course.

“We’re voting to make it better,” she said. Beasley said it’s important that “everybody votes, no matter what their choice” for those they believe will “keep us safe and take care of our land,” and when in doubt, “we go to the Lord in prayer.”

The Northampton County races were relatively undramatic. Northampton elected a commonwealth’s attorney, two mayors, and 13 town council members, but there was only one contested race among them.

The contested race was for a seat on the Cape Charles town council, left by Dora Sullivan when she resigned in late February. Cela Burge, who was appointed in March to fill the seat until a special election could be held, won with 345 votes. 

Also in that race were Joan Natali, with 135 votes, and Herb Thom Jr., with 88 votes.

Natali previously served on the town council but was not re-elected in May, when newcomers Paul Grossman and Tammy Holloway won their seats on the council.

Patsy Stith is once again the mayor of Nassawadox, with 148 votes. Only six voters wrote in alternates. Six town council candidates ran uncontested for their seats on the Nassawadox council. Those candidates and the number of votes they received are: Drury Stith, 107; Claude Jones, 99; Liz Freund, 95; John Hallett Sr., 91; Lisa Lindberg, 88; and Andrea Fox, 29.

There were similar circumstances in Eastville, where James Sturgis will continue as mayor with 107 votes. Only two votes were cast for write-in candidates for mayor. The six uncontested candidates for the Eastville town council all received roughly an equal share of the votes. They are: John Crockett, 86 votes; Anne Sayers, 85; Denise Bland, 83; Eleanor Gordon, 83; Mary Beth Briggs, 82; and Barbara Thomas, 78.

Beverly Leatherbury won her first election for her position as commonwealth’s attorney (county prosecutor) with 4,219 votes. There were 123 votes for write-in candidates for commonwealth’s attorney, comprising less than 3 percent of the vote.

Leatherbury, Northampton’s former deputy to the commonwealth’s attorney, stepped into her current position nearly a year ago until a special election could be held, when former Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Jones retired in late 2017. 

“The election was unopposed but I certainly don’t take the job for granted,” said Leatherbury. “Practicing law is a very worthwhile profession but prosecution has become for me a calling. A calling to obtain justice … and an obligation also to guard the rights of the accused. … I will give the job my all and the door of my office is always open to citizens’ concerns.”

Leatherbury had 12 years of experience as deputy to the commonwealth’s attorney before taking over as commonwealth’s attorney. She is also the county attorney, providing legal counsel to supervisors and other Northampton officials. Leatherbury is following in Jones’ footsteps fulfilling this dual role.

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