Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 13, 2014

Officials hope for good voter turnout today

PRINCETON — Voter registration officials are hoping for a good turnout today at polling precincts across the region.

Local, state and federal races are on the ballot in West Virginia. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

Thousands have already voted early across southern West Virginia. In Mercer County, 1,127 early ballots were cast. In McDowell County, 339 people voted early.

Local races are expected to generate voter interest today. And more Democrats voted early in Mercer County than Republicans. That is probably due to the closely watched Mercer County Commission race, according to County Clerk Verlin Moye.

Five Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination in the commission contest. They are Terry Basham, Robert W. “Bob” Carter, Phillip B. Ball, Lyle Cottle and John Sommers. Today’s winner will face Republican Greg Puckett in November. Puckett is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

“The Republican is pretty much decided,” Moye said. “Of course our early voting numbers seem to reflect that. We had at least twice as many Democrats vote than Republicans during the early voting period.”

Two seats also will be decided today in the non-partisan Mercer County Board of Education race. The candidates include incumbents Gilbert “Gene” Bailey and Gregory Prudich, along with challenger J.B. Hurt.

Moye said Mountain Party and Libertarian Party voters will have limited choices today.

“I just want to remind Mountain Party and Libertarian Party voters that due to the fact that there are no candidates in those parties registered, then the only ballot they can vote on would be the non-partisan ballot, which involves the races for the board of education and conservation district.”

Moye said he expects about 30 percent of all registered voters in the county to vote today.

“I think it is a very important election as least for the Mercer County Commission race,” Moye said. “It’s very important because that is someone who is responsible for the day-to-day operations. Setting the budget and other day-to-day issues.”

Two local races also are generating voter interest in McDowell County. Eight candidates are vying for three seats on the McDowell County Board of Education. The candidates include incumbents Jimmy Copolo, Lynda “Pip” Evans and Kevin Wade, along with challengers Margaret Beavers, Julie Church, Brenda S. Goodson, Mike Mitchem and Georgia Muncy West.

Voters also will decide a single seat on the McDowell County Commission where two Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination. Incumbent Democrat A. Ray Bailey is being challenged by Democrat Cecil Dale Patterson. No Republican candidate filed for the county commission contest. However, a write-in candidate could still challenge the winner of today’s primary this November, according to County Clerk Don Hicks.

“There is absolutely no reason in the world why anyone should not vote,” Hicks said. “They are given multiple opportunities like early voting and absentee voting. Just think of the people who are over there (overseas) fighting for their lives to give us this freedom.”

In Monroe County, a single county commission seat is on the ballot. Incumbent commissioner and Republican William “Bill” Miller is running unopposed for the Republican nomination and Democrat Terry A. Utterback is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Three candidates also are vying for three seats on the non-partisan Monroe County Board of Education race. They include incumbents Candy Sabol and Charles Sams and write-in candidate Barbara Ellen Fisher. The three winners in the non-partisan board of education race will take office on July 1.

Voters also will decide a number of other local races today.

In the Senate District 6 contest, incumbent Democrat H. Truman Chafin is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination and Republican Mark R. Maynard of Genoa is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

In the House of Delegates District 25 contest, incumbent Democrat Linda Goode Phillips, of Pineville, is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination and Republican Sue Cline of Brenton is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

In the House of Delegates District 26 contest, incumbent Democrat Clif Moore of Thorpe is being challenged by Democrat S.P. “Pat” McKinney of Welch for the Democratic nomination. Tom Acosta is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

In the House of Delegates District 27 contest, incumbent Republicans Joe C. Ellington Jr., of Princeton; Marty Gearheart, of Bluefield; and John H. Shott, of Bluefield are all running unopposed for the Republican nomination. Carol B. Bailey, of Princeton — who was appointed by the state Democratic Executive Committee as a candidate for the House 27 race — will not appear on the May primary ballot, but will appear on the November ballot where she will challenge Shott, Ellington and Gearheart for one of the three District 27 seats.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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