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Judge's race challenge ends

October 06, 2000

Judge's race challenge ends



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Five months after the election, the race for the Eastern Panhandle's new Circuit Court judge position concluded Thursday with Gray Silver III the winner.

"No tears, no glory, it's over" said Shepherdstown attorney David Camilletti Thursday after the West Virginia Supreme Court on a 4-1 vote decided not to take up his appeal of the election results. "I called Gray to congratulate him. I think I was the first one to tell him."

Silver was ahead of Camilletti by 39 votes after the May 9 election. A canvass of votes and a recount narrowed the margin slightly. Camilletti, alleging numerous sloppy practices in the election, went to court and the Berkeley County Commission checked the results. A judge ordered them to count the unused ballots. All the actions upheld the original results, although they narrowed the margin to 23 votes. Camilletti appealed to the Supreme Court, his final hope.

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Silver could not be reached for comment. He apparently will take over the newly created fourth judge position in the 23rd Circuit Court. He is unopposed on the Nov. 7 ballot.

"I'm disappointed, but I have no regrets about what I did,' Camilletti said. He said he hopes his actions focused voters' attention on what is happening at the Berkeley County polls.

"If the people don't care, the officials won't care," he said. He said he thinks Berkeley County voters "just didn't know" about the election practices.

"By challenging this election, we brought a lot of things to light," he said.

The commissioners took a number of procedural steps Monday intended to tighten up election practices in the handling, counting and storage of ballots. County Clerk John Small also took steps for oversight and monitoring of the election that he hopes will minimize problems.

Camilletti is uncertain how much those steps will help.

"I don't think they have made any changes that will overcome the deep-seated problems that exist in the elections," he said. "If they've done some things, let's give them credit for trying. But I would be very skeptical about the process and procedures on the elections in Berkeley County. I'd want to look very closely at what happened."

Although admitting some mistakes were made, officials have defended the election.

"This was about as fair and honest an election as you could have," County Commissioner John Wright said Monday.

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