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Berkeley Co. election not just about zoning, winner says

November 09, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The unofficial winner in the race for Berkeley County Commission said Wednesday that he thought the election was a referendum on leadership and experience, not necessarily zoning.

"In many folks' eyes, I think they felt it was referendum on zoning," said Republican Bill Stubblefield, who defeated Ryan B. Frankenberry, 28, of Gerrardstown, W.Va., by 1,644 votes. The tallies do not include provisional ballots that are to be considered next week.

Though Stubblefield noted that a special election on zoning was planned for next year, he readily acknowledged that the proposed adoption of land-use restrictions in the county was "undoubtedly an undercurrent" in Tuesday's vote.

Stubblefield, 66, attributed his victory to a "phenomenal grassroots effort" and said he believed he defined the issues of the race, including the need to protect water resources and other quality of life concerns.

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"I applaud and commend Ryan for the type of race he ran," Stubblefield said of Frankenberry, who said he was opposed to zoning.

Frankenberry's stance did not prevent him from winning eight precincts in the City of Martinsburg, which has adopted zoning. He also won two other precincts near Hedgesville, W.Va., according to unofficial tallies. Both communities are typically strongholds for the Democratic Party, records show.

Frankenberry and Stubblefield tied in three precincts in southern Berkeley County.

But Stubblefield appeared to garner the most lopsided support (66.8 percent) from precinct 49, a northeastern district that includes the communities of Scrabble and Greensburg and his home. Only voters in precinct 18A, a district next to Cumbo Yard Industrial Park north of Martinsburg, gave Stubblefield a more decisive majority with 67.6 percent of the votes cast there.

State Sen. John Unger's win over Republican challenger Jerry Mays was just shy of that mark.

According to unofficial tallies of both Jefferson and Berkeley County precincts in the 16th Senatorial District, Unger received 19,341 votes or about 65 percent. Mays received 10,557 votes or 35 percent.

County Clerk John W. Small Jr. and Voters Registration deputy clerk Bonnie Woodfall said the election went fairly smooth.

Alternate poll workers replaced four hired for election day but didn't actually work the polls.

"We had a few of them that made a few boo-boos," Woodfall said.

Based on early voter participation, Small predicted turnout at 35 to 40 percent. According to the unofficial tallies, the countywide turnout was 34.03 percent, slightly more than double the primary tally.

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