In the end, an election that some felt would restructure Floyd County’s school board and redefine county government turned into an endorsement of the status quo.
Every incumbent on the general election ballot Tuesday won, including three sitting members of the school board and county sheriff Shannon Zeman, who trounced challenger Laura Sparks — a former deputy — 2-1.
After years of having at least one Democrat on the county board, the supervisors who take office January 1 will be 100 percent Republican. The party of the elephant — running unopposed in board and constitutional offices — walked in without trouble. Only independent Stephanie Shortt — returning unchallenged for a second term as commonwealth’s attorney — spoiled the GOP sweep.
A last minute write-in challenge by incumbent board of supervisors chairman David Ingram — who lost to challenger Lauren Yoder in the GOP caucus earlier this year — fell way short as Yoder cruised to victory along with unopposed incumbent Virgel Allen and newcomer Joe Turman, who also ran unopposed after Demoratic incumbent Bill Gardiner decided at the last minute to not seek re-election.
In the race for Floyd Town Council, challenger Dennis Wagner came close to unseating incumbent Mike Patton but — as in other races throughout the county — status quo ruled.
The three-way battle for sheriff became the county’s most-watched race with challenger Sparks waging a spirited campaign against popular incumbent Zeman and “God told me to run” challenger Paul Hill. But the final result wasn’t even close: Zeman pulled in 2,760 votes to 1,292 for Sparks while Hills came in a distant third with 422.
While Republicans celebrated their sweep at an election watch at the library and Zeman hosted his deputies and supporters at his house, a hoped-for celebration by Sparks at Ray’s restaurant turned into a wake.
“It doesn’t look good,” Sparks texted to supporters as the early returns came in and she trailed from the start.
Yoder, openly surprised and disappointed with the last-minute write-in challenge from Ingram sweated out the evening until the Locust Grove returns came in last, giving him 599 votes to some 200 write-ins.
“I had to beat him twice,” Yoder said.
Melissa Keith won her unopposed race for treasurer along with Lisa Baker for Commissioner of Revenue.
After controversy over now-retired school superintendent Terry W. Arbogast’s budgetary sleight-of-hand with his escalating salary and perks, some expected at least some of the incumbents to lose but challenges against sitting board members Clay Link and David Sulzen fell short and Margaret Hubbard ran for re-election unopposed. Link survived a three-way race in Locust Grove District while Sulzen beat former county administrator Henry McDaniel.
The big losers Tuesday? Floyd County’s invisible Democratic party, which didn’t field a single candidate on the ballot and the always vocal but impotent tea party which failed to land a single victory and had no impact on any race.