On The County Races

The results from the 2012 General Election will mean some changes in county offices throughout West Virginia.

“We have quite a large group of newly elected county officials,” said West Virginia Association of Counties Executive Director Patti Hamilton.

In all, she says 30 new commissioners, ten new assessors, 35 new sheriffs and 13 new prosecutors were elected Tuesday.

One of the closest races was in Hardy County where just 12 votes separate current Commissioner J.R. Keplinger, the winner according to unofficial results, and Republican Hunter Williams.

In Wirt County, incumbent Sheriff Keith Wilson, a Republican, won by just 17 votes over Andy Cheuvront, a Democrat. The totals there were 1,086 votes for Wilson and 1,069 votes for Cheuvront.

“You really see how every vote counts,” Hamilton said of the numbers on Thursday’s MetroNews Talkline.

The official canvass of the ballots could potentially change the outcomes of those races. Officials in many counties will be conducting their official canvasses next week.

In the races for sheriff, Hamilton says five incumbents in West Virginia were defeated on Tuesday. Thirty other incumbents, though, could not run for reelection because they are completing their second consecutive terms, the limit in West Virginia.

A proposed amendment that would have lifted the term limits for sheriffs failed on Tuesday. About 52% of voters voted against the change, while 48% voted for it. It’s closer than past votes have been.

“I don’t know if they’ll attempt it again or not, but that may be a lesson learned. With each time, you get a little bit closer,” Hamilton said.

In Lincoln County, there were two independent candidates for sheriff along with the Democrat and Republican candidates. In the races for two Lincoln County Commission seats, there were two Democrats, two Republicans and two Independents.

Across the state, “I’ve not seen this before where we’ve had so many independent candidates for county office,” she said.

Based on the performance of David Moran in the West Virginia gubernatorial race this year, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant says the Libertarian Party has gained ballot access in 2014 and 2016. He received more than 1% of the vote.

That means Libertarian candidates will not need to collect signatures to be on the ballot for any election except for municipal elections.

Those in the Libertarian Party will have to choose their candidates during a primary election or party convention in the coming years.

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