MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Election Day in Monongalia County came and went and it was an overall success, despite many concerns about COVID-19.
Monongalia County had the most contested races in all of North Central West Virginia with a total of 11 contested races. The voter turnout rate was 30.74 percent, with a total of 71,458 registered voters. Absentee ballots were expected to play a big role in the election because the state allowed all registered voters to apply for absentee ballots as a result of COVID-19 fears.
It is still unclear how many absentee ballots were cast, however, it is expected to be significant. Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office said 21.4 percent of registered voters in West Virginia had requested an absentee ballot.
One of the key issues on the ballot this election was four levies in Monongalia County. Levies are a kind of tax and the four were: mass transportation, public library, fire, as well as parks, trails, and recreation levies. They all passed by a significant margin, having passed by 66.55 percent, 72.46 percent 81.20 percent and 78.64 percent respectively.
County Commission President Ed Hawkins was at the County Election Center along with the two other commissioners, Tom Bloom and Sean Sikora as the results were tabulated. Commissioners were excited to see the results of the levies, there was some applause from Commissioner Bloom and a general sense of a job well done from the others.
“I think what you can take away from this is the value that Monongalia County citizens put on those things that make the amenity of life what it is in Monongalia County,” Hawkins said. “That they’re willing to part with tax money, that they vote for themselves so that we can have these amenities.”
Hawkins was on the ballot on Election Day in hopes of keeping his seat this fall. He was unopposed, therefore, he won and will face Democrat challenger Jeff Arnett in the fall.
One of the other candidates on the ballot who stopped by the Election Center was Magistrate Sandy Holepit. Holepit, the incumbent, won by a great margin, having received 72.72 percent of the vote and retaining her seat in Division 4.
“I’m very grateful because our court is the second busiest court in the state of West Virginia, Kanawha is better than us but they have 10 magistrates, we only have four,” Holepit said. “And now we’re going to have two brand new magistrates that we’re going to have to try and train and we’re already way behind because of the virus. We had to shutdown for a couple months and I’m just so grateful to the citizens that they put me back in, they rehired me and I promise to do the best job I can and get us back on track, I’m just grateful to all the people who really worked hard for me.”
One of the two new magistrates Holepit was referring to is Phillip Gaujot, who received 42.72 percent, beating incumbent Tim Pocius for Division 2. The other was Ron Bane who won Division 1 with 51.50 percent of the vote. Voting for the position of magistrate, like other nonpartisan roles, is final as of election night, there will be no more voting in November.
Another nonpartisan position up for grabs tonight was for the County’s Board of Education. There could be two winners and they were Nancy Ann Walker with 43.42 percent of the vote and Ron Lytle with 30.36 percent.
WBOY has a more comprehensive look at all races in North Central West Virginia and around the state on its “Your Local Election HQ – 2020 Primary” page.