ELECTION: Shenandoah County - Ferguson voted out, Irvin, Walsh in; Wisely keeps seat

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — The chairman of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors was voted out of office after 12 years on the job during what was otherwise a red-letter Election Day for county incumbents.

The general election saw 28 candidates running for 12 local and county seats. The general registrar’s office didn’t have the voter turnout numbers available at press time.

Board of Supervisors Retired accountant and independent candidate Richard Walker beat Republican David Ferguson by 51 votes to capture the District 3 Board of Supervisors seat.

Walker claimed 1,085 votes to Ferguson’s 1,034, according to unofficial results from the Virginia Board of Elections.

Ferguson said he is pleased with what he helped accomplished during his three terms, including the opening of the Charterhouse School in Edinburg.

“I will leave with a sense of satisfaction,” he said.

Two other incumbent supervisors also reclaimed their seats Tuesday. In District 2, Republican Steve Baker won a third term on the board, besting independent Michael Wakeman with 894 votes to Wakeman’s 809.

Baker said he was pleased to see Election Day end and is looking forward to the future.

“I feel very grateful to the people who came out and supported me,” he said. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve another four years. I just need to have a little time to catch my breath and then go full steam ahead.”

In District 6, Supervisor Conrad Helsley, who ran as an independent, won his third full term in office with 385 votes. Republican businessman S. John Massoud came in second with 317 votes. Strasburg Town Councilman Bob Baker captured 250 votes and former councilwoman Sarah Mauck claimed 239.

School Board
The county School Board gained a new member and retained two incumbents Tuesday, albeit through varying margins of victory. Chairman Richard Koontz won a fourth term in a District 2 squeaker as the unofficial results showed that he nipped Joanie Hovatter, a Winchester elementary school principal, by just six votes in a three-way race.

With all the precincts accounted for, Koontz had 685 votes to Hovatter’s 679. Retired accountant Barbara Bliss claimed 318.

Koontz said he wants to “just get back to work” now that the election is over. “The biggest challenge is the [lower] attendance in the schools,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing we have to work on at this point.”

In the District 3 race, Cyndy Walsh, executive director of the Shenandoah Education Foundation, won the seat being vacated by Kathryn Holsinger. Walsh claimed 799 votes, with pastor Steve Wood grabbing 713 votes and retired teacher D. Roger Barbee claiming 557.

Walsh said she feels “really good” about her win.

“I’m glad the voters decided to put me in,” she said. “I think I can do some good things for Shenandoah County.”

Walsh said some of those things include creating “an environment that attracts and retains quality teachers,” and decreasing schools’ focus on standardized testing.

“I really want to be an advocate for the best education kids can get in this county,” she said.

In District 6, Sonya Williams-Giersch won re-election to her seat, besting retired police officer Van Holmes, III, 838 votes to 270.

County and state races
In the county’s most contested race, Sarona Irvin, chief deputy clerk of circuit court and an independent, came out on top among five candidates seeking the circuit court clerk’s office with 3,099 votes. General District Court Clerk Tammy Heishman, also an independent, followed with 2,698 votes. Republican businessman David George came in third with 2,433 votes; Adam Sharp, sales manager for Andros Foods and a Democrat, claimed 870 votes; and Lisa Long, office manager for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and an independent, captured 642.

Incumbent Clerk Denise Estep is retiring this year after 24 years on the job.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley won her second four-year term with 5,178 votes versus 4,689 for Chad Logan, who is an assistant Rockingham County commonwealth’s attorney.

Running unopposed were Sheriff Timothy Carter, Treasurer Cindy George, Commissioner of the Revenue Kathy Black and Soil and Water Conservation Directors Mary Gessner and Joan Comanor.

In the state races, Shenandoah County voters re-elected Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Woodstock) with 7,085 votes versus 2,818 for Democratic challenger April Moore.

Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Rockingham) ran unopposed.

‘You shouldn’t complain’
Voters lined up at the county’s 12 polling locations throughout the day.

Among them was 85-year-old Alexander Cekala of Edinburg, who cast his ballot at Mount Jackson’s Town Hall at lunchtime. He said he used to live in the county’s 3rd district, but reorganization a few years ago put his home in District 2. Cekala, who owns five acres of land, said his top priority in voting is to prevent a rise in property taxes.

“I vote in every election I can,” he said. “I don’t need any higher taxes.”

Even though no District 1 seats were up for grabs this year, New Market area voters cast ballots for the state and countywide races at the town’s fire and rescue station.

According to District 1 Supervisor Dick Neese, more than 500 of the district’s almost 2,000 registered voters had submitted their ballots by 1:15 p.m.

Those voters included Bob and Ellen Dever of New Market and their caretaker, Faith McIntyre.

Bob Dever, 97, said he and his 95-year-old wife have voted since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency.

“They’ve been voting a good long time,” McIntyre said.

Dever said he tries to accomplish a goal with his vote.

“I hope to pick out somebody who’s concerned for the people they’re representing, not the special interests,” he said.

Jeanette Silvious, 70, also voted in New Market on Tuesday. She said voting gives residents a chance to take a stand on what should happen in their hometowns.

“If you don’t vote, then you shouldn’t complain,” she said.

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