With the party conventions concluded, and the Clinton/Trump race underway, it’s easy to forget there’s an election on Thursday.
In fact, if you had forgotten about this week’s state primary and county general election, you’re not alone. Early voting turnout was below average because there is no statewide non-judicial office (governor or U.S. senator) on the ballot. Competitive statewide elections encourage political advertising and voter interest. There’s none of that this year.
No one was more surprised by the margin of Jennifer Owen’s victory over Grant Standefer in the District 2 school board race than Jennifer Owen.
“Going into Election Day, I was torn between ‘I might win by a little bit, or I might lose by a little bit,’” Owen said. “When the polls closed, I had people at each location who got the totals and were texting them to me, and I was just shocked. I won every one of them, and thought. ‘Surely that’s not right.’”
Early voting starts today (Feb. 10) and the election is March 1 for two countywide offices and two school board seats. It’s called an off-year election, and back when voters were smart enough to elect a school superintendent, that race was on this ballot, too.
It’s fitting that the countywide races will be decided in the Republican Primary, because one is fratricidal as Republicans struggle with what historian Bruce Wheeler termed the “otherness” of Appalachian life – the tug between modernization and tradition.