Tonight was a big night for Democrats in Albemarle County, with the party taking control of three major seats from Republicans. The big news of the night is that I only have to watch my back for the next two months: Democrat Denise Lunsford beat four-term incumbent Republican Jim Camblos for the position of commonwealth’s attorney, winning 53% of the vote to his 47%. (His call to Denise to concede consisted solely of him barking “good luck” and hanging up. As always, unable to admit fault or defeat, classless to the end.) Democrat Debbie Shipp won the clerk of court’s seat by a landslide, with 54% of the vote to Republican John Dawson’s 31%. And Democrats have wrested one seat on the Board of Supervisors away from Republicans, with freshman incumbent and local boy David Wyant being beaten by local girl Ann Mallek by an impressive margin of 56% to 44%.
Republicans managed to hold onto a single constitutional office — Chip Harding defeated Republican turned Democrat Larry Claytor in a 54/45 split. This was Harding’s first shot at higher office, but Claytor’s second attempt at the sheriff’s office in the general election.
In other county races, Republican Ken Boyd just barely held Democratic challenger Marcia Joseph for the Rivanna BoS seat, with just 146 votes separating the two of them. Nominal Democrat Lindsay Dorrier (generally counted as a Republican with regard to his voting record) easily held off his two independent challengers with 56% of the vote in his Scottsville district. The only school board race with a challenger was the at large seat, held by Democrat Brian Wheeler, and he also won easily, with 56% of the vote.
There were no surprises in state-level races. Sen. Creigh Deeds, Sen. Steve Landes, Del. David Toscano and Del. Rob Bell all went unchallenged. Sen. Emmett Hanger, having survived a brutal primary challenge, easily defeated his Democratic and Libertarian challengers. Though all votes aren’t yet in, it’s clear that Democratic challenger Connie Brennan failed to oust independent Del. Watkins Abbitt, with the incumbent clearing the 60% bar.
No shockers in the city. The Democratic city council ticket strolled to victory, with David Brown, Holly Edwards and Satyendra Huja all easily defeating independents Barbara Haskins and Peter Kleeman. Democrats John Conover and Rich Collins defeated Republican John Pfaltz for the newly-elected seats on the Soil and Water Conservation board. The four winners for the school board were Kathleen Galvin (20%), Collette Blount (19%), Llezelle Dugger (16%) and Alvin Edwards (15%).
It’s Democrats’ BoS win that’s particularly noteworthy, because it gives Democrats a 4/2 majority, ending the long-standing 3/3 split that’s prevented them from instituting sprawl restrictions and rural preservation measures. We’ll see some significant changes resulting from Ann Mallek’s win. The narrative being written here — especially given Boyd’s narrow survival even amidst his last-minute support of rural preservation — is that many Albemarle voters seem to have enough of sprawl and all that accompanies it. We’re also seeing the results of simple demographic changes. The county is consistently supporting Democratic candidates — Al Weed, Jim Webb, and John Kerry all carried Albemarle, and that change has benefited Democrats today. Ironically, Republicans’ refusal to limit growth is probably what has brought about the demographic change that’s removing them from office.