Town elections yield new mayor, council members

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

Shenandoah County’s Tuesday elections proved a mixed bag for incumbents and challengers as voters cast their ballots in 22 town council races and three mayoral contests.
Strasburg Councilman and former mayor Rich Orndorff, Jr. won a return trip to the mayor’s office, while Toms Brook’s next mayor has yet to be announced. The mayorship and two of the town’s six council seats were voted on via write-in ballots. The winners won’t be announced until the state Board of Elections confirms their victories.
Of the county’s 26 council candidates, 14 of 16 incumbents retained their seats while five of 10 challengers and unopposed newcomers claimed victories.
All of the positions carry four-year terms.

Mayor Doug Bradley cruised to a second term with 133 votes, or 73 percent of the count. His challenger, two-time councilman Eddie Litten, received 49 votes, or almost 27 percent.
Bradley, 77, was appointed to council in 2011 following the death of former Councilwoman Mary Alice Burch, and he won his first term as mayor the next year.
Bradley said he was “elated” at the news of his win. He said his second term will focus on improving the town’s economic development.
“We’ve had a real problem with getting business in,” he said. “It’s been devastating to the town. Now we just need to unite and pool all our resources together.”
Litten, a retired former president of Seneca Foods Corp., said his loss was no surprise.
“I did not campaign whatsoever,” he said. “I ran at the request of some of the townspeople who asked me to run.”
Because he gave up his council seat to run for mayor, Litten, 69, said he now has time for “lots of golf, a lot less meetings and a lot fewer phone calls at home.”
Peter Hughes, a retired teacher and political newcomer, seized Litten’s seat with 145 votes, or 33.6 percent of the count. Councilmen Scott Wymer and Tim Palmer, also former teachers, each won a second term with 139 and 134 votes, respectively.
All three council candidates ran unopposed.

Orndorff won Strasburg’s mayor race with 406 votes, or 51 percent of the count. He previously served as mayor from 2000 to 2004.
Three-time Councilman Donald Le Vine came in second with 258 votes, or nearly 32.5 percent. Former Councilman Justin Ritenour earned 127 votes, or nearly 16 percent.
Ritenour was elected to council in 2008 at age 19 and served until 2012.
Mayor Tim Taylor declined to seek a third term in office.
In the council races, incumbent Jocelyn Vena won her second full term, while Robert “Bob” Baker lost a third term. Shirley Maddox, a member of the Strasburg Heritage Association, led the pack with 501 votes, or 19 percent of the count.
Following Maddox were Vena with 460 votes and town residents Barbara Plitt and Kim Bishop, who earned 434 and 416 votes, respectively.
Baker and Planning Commissioner Taralyn Manuel-Nicholson rounded out the field with 397 and 402 votes, respectively.

No candidates ran in three of Toms Brook’s seven races, leading to a write-in campaign.
Lisa McDonald, Shenandoah County’s voter registrar, said Tuesday the state must certify the winners before they are announced.
“We’re canvassing [Wednesday] morning,” McDonald said. “Then we’ll send them to Richmond and the Electoral Board will certify by Friday.”
Voters cast 32 write-in ballots for mayor and 38 for the council seats. Mayor Phillip Fauber and council members Keith Johnson and Leda Stickler declined to seek another term in office.
The remaining council members ran for re-electon unopposed. Walter Stepp and Dawn Rinker each got 29 votes, while Mary Johanna O’Toole received 28 and Heather Sager got 26.
Unlike its county neighbors, the town of 258 votes on its entire governing body every four years.

Incumbents also won the day in Mount Jackson.
Donald Pifer led the race with 74 votes, or 29 percent of the count. Dennis Andrick and Rodney Shepherd followed with 71 and 65 votes, respectively.
Challenger Allen Asbury received 40 votes, or 15.8 percent. He ran for mayor in 2014 following the death of former mayor Joseph Williams, but lost to J.G. “Bucky” Miller.
Town residents submitted their votes using new equipment the town received after March’s presidential primary.
“We have new voting machines with an optical scanner,” Kim Stevenson, a volunteer with the county Board of Elections, said. “And we have a new one for the hearing and visually impaired.”
Stevenson’s husband, Jim, also an Election Day volunteer, said the new machines will print the town’s election results in a single report instead of multiple sheets that volunteers had to compare to ensure the numbers lined up.
“We’re hoping it will be much more efficient this time,” Kim Stevenson said.
All of the positions decided on Tuesday have four-year terms.

In Edinburg, Councilman Clyde Beachy kept his seat, while Planning Commissioner Stephen Van Stee narrowly beat incumbent Teresa Minnick to claim her seat.
Beachy and Van Stee won the day with 68 and 67 votes, respectively. Minnick received 64 votes and Planning Commissioner Paul Blacet earned 57.
Attorney Brad Pollock and town resident Carrie Hamilton each received 47 votes.

Woodstock Town Council members Michael Funkhouser, Jacqueline Lambert and Alicia Gutshall all ran unopposed and kept their seats with 66, 62 and 56 seats, respectively.

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