Election 2019: Walters, Matthews make history in Tuesday voting

Tuesday’s election results in Pulaski County produced a history making outcome in two races, with voters electing the first woman to the Board of Supervisors and the first African American candidate to a Constitutional office in the county.

Republican Laura Walters won her Ingles District battle with Independent incumbent Ranny O’Dell by a 1,082 – 551 vote to become the first woman in the county to be elected as a supervisor.

“I am honored to be elected and representing the Ingles District and Pulaski County,” Walters told The Patriot late Tuesday night.

History was also made Tuesday in the race for the Commissioner of the Revenue as Republican Kim Matthews defeated her Democratic incumbent opponent Donna Gray, 4,152 – 4,014 in one of the closest races of the day.

With the win, Matthews becomes the first African American to win one of the county’s five Constitutional offices – at least since the Reconstruction Era (1866-1877) following the Civil War.

Tuesday’s election marked the second between Matthews and Gray since January when Gray won a special election allowing her to serve one year and finish out the term of former Commissioner Trina Rupe who died suddenly in August of 2018.

In other races:

Democratic incumbent Melinda Worrell won re-election as treasurer, defeating Republican challenger Tracy Belcher, 4,819 – 3,408.

In one of the most watched races of the campaign, Massie District incumbent Republican and Board Chairman Andy McCready was defeated by Independent John Travis, 884 – 793.

“I am so happy that the citizens of Pulaski County are putting their faith in me to represent them on the Board of Supervisors,” Travis said Tuesday night. “I don’t take this job lightly. I look forward to working to make Pulaski County an even better place than it already is. Thank you to all of my supporters who worked so hard to help me get elected.”

In Robinson District, incumbent Republican Charles Bopp defeated his Democratic challenger Jeff Worrell, 674 – 595.

In Cloyd District, Republican incumbent Joe Guthrie defeated Independent Andy Cullip, 1,290 – 842.

And in Draper District, Republican Dirk Compton won a three-way race with 806 votes. Independent Allison Haller Hunter was second at 631, and Democrat “Fritz” Streff was third at 223.

Incumbent Republican Ben Chaffin easily won re-election to the State Senate for the 38th District, beating his independent challenger George McCall III, 30,198 – 16,815.

In voting locally, Chaffin carried Pulaski County 5,501 -2,844, while in Radford, Chaffin won 1,806 – 1,317.

In House District 7, incumbent Republican Nick Rush easily defeated Democrat Rhonda Seltz, 13,833 – 6,875.

In Pulaski County, Rush won big, 5,310 – 1,722.

In House District 12, incumbent Democrat Chris Hurst won re-election over his Republican challenger Forrest Hite, 11,133 – 9,642.

Locally, Hite won Pulaski County with 963 votes to Hurst’s 647. Only Belspring and New River Precincts are part of the 12th District.

In Radford, Hurst won 1,867 to 1,605.

Also, in Radford, J. Ann Harman Howard won election as Clerk of Court, defeating Steven Ward Reese, 2,025 – 1,380.

The rest of the races in Pulaski County on Tuesday were easy victories for the candidates as none faced opposition.

All five school board candidates won:

Cloyd District: Bill Benson, 1,895

Draper District: Tim Hurst, 1,515

Ingles District: Penny Golden, 1,405

Massie District: Beckie Cox, 1,446

Robinson District: Paige Cash, 1,097

Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor captured 7,611 votes running unopposed.

While Sheriff Mike Worrell was unopposed and was Tuesday’s highest vote getter at 7,714.

Two Soil and Water Conservation District candidates won election as well, with George Hudson garnering 5,847 votes and G. Blair Sanders collecting 4,203.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot

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