With only five contested races countywide on Letcher County ballots, voters still stood in line Tuesday to mark their ballots.
The offices of President, U.S. Senator, State Representative, Letcher Circuit Judge and Letcher County Coroner were the only contested offices in which all county residents could vote. Voters in Whitesburg and Jenkins also chose for council members in contested races.
James “Jimmy” Craft II, who was appointed Circuit Judge this summer, several months after former judge Sam Wright won election to the state Supreme Court, won the office for the remainder of the term on a vote of 5,802 to 2,841 for Whitesburg attorney Darrell Hall.
Democrat Renee Campbell, a surgical nurse at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital, will be the county’s new coroner, filling the unexpired term of Republican Marty Baker. The race will be on the ballot again in 2018. Campbell received 5,489 votes while Scott Helle, an emergency medical technician and manager of the Wendy’s restaurant in Whitesburg, Helle got 3,180 votes.
Democrat Angie Hatton, an assistant county attorney in Letcher County, narrowly defeated Pikeville City Commissioner Frankie Justice for 94th District State Representative’s seat by 234 votes. She won the race in Letcher County by a 2,668-vote margin, 5,816 votes to 3,148, while losing to Justice in Pike County. The Letcher County vote was enough to put her over the top and in office.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul easily held onto his seat after a challenge from Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. In Letcher County, Paul defeated Gray 5,364 votes to 3,175.
As expected, Republican Donald J. Trump easily carried Letcher County and Kentucky.
Trump and running mate Mike Pence, the Indiana governor, captured 80 percent of the Letcher County vote, over Democrat Hillary Clinton, 7,293 votes to 1,542 votes. The results here show that Clinton is even more unpopular in Letcher County than President Barack Obama, who was beaten here in 2008 by Republican Mitt Romney, 6,811 votes to 1,702 votes. In all, 322 more voters went to the polls to vote for president in 2016 than in 2012.
In other contested local races, five of six incumbent members of the Whitesburg City Council won reelection Tuesday. Incumbent Larry D. Everidge, the leading vote getter with 381, will be joined by other incumbents Earlene Williams Cornett (368 votes), Robin Bowen Watko (310), James W. “Jimmy” Bates (308), Derek Barto (296), and newcomer Mike Jackson (351 votes) when the new council takes office in January. Defeated were incumbent Shelia Page Shortt, former council member Tom Sexton, and Daryl Royse, the co-owner of Heritage Kitchen in Whitesburg who was making his first run for office.
Elected to the Jenkins City Council were Richard Damron (438 votes), Chuck Anderson (414), Michael J. Dingus (380), Rebecca Terrill Amburgey (379), Garnett Bentley (367), and Toni Jo Jenkins (316). They defeated Thomas Allen Bormes, and Terry Braddock.
In the City of Fleming- Neon, only five candidates signed up to run for city council. They are Linda Cantrell, Virgie “Susie” Fleming, Jeffery Breeding, James D. Collins, and Thomas D. “Tom” Haynes. A sixth person will have to be appointed to serve on the council.
Letcher County Board of Education members Robert R. Kiser, Will Smith and Melinda Boggs each ran unopposed.