Jefferson Co. voters oust Surkamp

Taylor wins nomination

May 11, 2010|From Staff Reports
  • Paul Taylor

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Political newcomer Paul Taylor beat out incumbent Jim Surkamp on Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for an open Jefferson County Commission seat, according to complete, but unofficial, election returns.

Taylor, an attorney, received 1,280 votes from Democrats, compared to 926 for Surkamp, who is finishing his first six-year term, and 922 for the third candidate, Ruth McQuade. The seat represents the Shepherdstown area.

In November's general election, Taylor will face Walt Pellish, who was unopposed in the Republican primary and received 1,031 votes.

Incumbent Commissioner Dale Manuel, a Democrat, is unopposed in his quest for re-election to the Charles Town seat on the commission.

Of Jefferson County's 34,189 registered voters, only 4,678 (14 percent) turned out for Tuesday's primary election. Almost 3,300 of the people who cast ballots were registered Democrats.

"I think Jefferson County is going to be in very good hands now. I'm humbled and a little surprised," Taylor said.


Taylor, 48, of Willowdale Drive in Shepherdstown, runs his own law firm in Martinsburg, W.Va. During the campaign, he promised to "return civility and balance to the commission, get it back on track, eliminate its micro-management, its factionalism and the pursuit of a personal agenda."

Surkamp, 60, of 64 Larkspur Drive in Shepherdstown, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Surkamp is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 28. He has pleaded not guilty of trying to vote twice during a November special zoning referendum and of illegally entering a polling place.

McQuade, 59, of Shepherdstown, is an attorney who grew up in Nicholas County, W.Va., as the 10th of 15 children. She is a former assistant West Virginia attorney general and a federal prosecutor.

Taylor said if elected he will be moderate, neutral and independent as a commissioner and work to end the spending of money on unnecessary litigation and studies that go nowhere.

Taylor is single, a fact that he said that will give him the time to spend on commission duties.

"This is my first foray into politics, and I'm looking forward to speaking on the issues with Mr. Pellish," Taylor said.

Pellish said he had no preference as to which Democrat he would face in November.

"I'm not running against anyone, I'm running for the county commission," he said.

Pellish said he expects a clean campaign.

"We are two professional people who will outline our background, experience and ideas," he said.

If Taylor would beat Pellish in November, he will bring to two the number of attorneys on the board. Commissioner Frances Morgan is a lawyer.

Patsy Noland and Lyn Widmyer are the other two members of the board.

Commissioners earn about $37,000 a year.

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