I’m thanking Fred for the motivation to go back in time today and look at the 2003 election cycle in Halifax County. So what happened back in 2003?
So what do those number really mean? Let’s do a breakdown.
Commonwealth’s Attorney: Kim White was facing her first re-election bid after a decisive victory over John Greenbacker. Lots of people were surprised that Greenbacker didn’t come back for a rematch, but Bob Meeks jumped into the race quickly. It didn’t matter much as Kim White was already very popular and had just finished a successful term in office. White obliterated Meeks by a 74-26 margin and won every precinct. However, Meeks has found a new hobby in 2009 by writing letters to the editor and then congratulating himself on them.
Sheriff: Jeff Oakes faced four challengers (Freddie Edmunds, Ray Link, Todd Moser and Shawn Sweeney) in his bid for re-election. Oakes still had the support of a lot of the county six years ago and with the large number of challengers out there to split the vote, he was the prohibitive favorite to win. Oakes won the election with a relatively strong 46% of the vote winning most of the precincts handily. Edmunds won the other precincts that Oakes didn’t by carrying a strong majority of the black vote. Ray Link had a few 2nd place finishes in some precincts but was stuck with the “hog-farming” label that cost him his job as chief deputy under Oakes (you don’t sue the county that you work for and expect to keep your job). Moser finished in 4th place and wasn’t much of a factor in the race. The surprising result was that Shawn Sweeney (the former Halifax police chief) only pulled 3% of the vote and had single digit vote counts in nine precincts. Whatever happened to Shawn Sweeney anyway? If Edmunds had been able to get the support of the other 3 challengers, Halifax County may very well have had it’s first black sheriff.
Commissioner of Revenue & Treasurer: Danny Jackson & Linda Foster continued their dominance of their respective races. No surprises there because they had done excellent and scandal-free work in the past. Very few people actually know what the CoR & Treasurer do, so incumbency is extremely powerful in those races.
Board of Supervisors:
- District 1 – Dickie Abbott won his 814th consecutive two-year term easily by defeating Jesse Lane
- District 4 – With David Martin choosing to step down, the race was open. Doug Bowman defeated Margaret Dyer and Clayton Garmon handily to start his BoS run.
- District 5 – James Edmunds was unopposed.
- District 6 – Lottie Nunn was unopposed.
- District 8 – Bryant Claiborne ran unopposed.
School Board: This is where the fun was. 2003 was the year of the “Virgilina Purge” for the incumbents.
- District 1 – Doug Fisher beat incumbent Jason Parker 59-41 (ensuring that school sports would never have any more favoritism in selecting teams)
- District 4 – Joe Bailey beat incumbent Carl Furches & challenger Joe Gasperini. In retrospect, this is probably one of the top 5 political mistakes ever made by Halifax County voters as Bailey became an embarrassment. Joe Gasperini would soundly defeat Bailey in 2007 and has moved on to become a very vocal and influential member of the school board.)
- District 5 – Nancylee Bagwell beat Sharon Kluge 52-48. Bagwell let her term expire in the next election and nobody filed for it.
- District 6 – Sandra Rister obliterated Glenn Ratliff 68-32 because Ratliff had the nerve to vote to close Virgilina Elementary School. Rister was booted from office in the next election cycle by Stuart Comer.
- District 8 – Kelly Hill defeated Patty Nelson (the reigning school board chairman) 55-45 completing the purge of all of the incumbents.
Soil & Water Conservation Board: Huh? What? Does anybody know what they do? Did anybody campaign? Did anybody care?
Recap: Stepping out of the time machine, we’ve learned an important lesson. Halifax County voters take things personally, having purged the entire school board for making the right decision in closing Virgilina Elementary School. We’ll take another trip in the time machine soon.