After a year or more of campaigning, campaign ads and just plain doing news stories, here's what I take away from the election cycle which ended November 6:
If there had not been a sheriff's succession ammendment (its repeal once again was rejected by voters on Tuesday), Ken Merritt might have been sheriff of Wood County for all of the last 20 years. He has been "newly elected" to the office for the third time, after having left two previous times due to term limits. He also defeated the man who defeated him four years ago, Jeff Sandy. Sandy had his controversies during his one term in office, but Merritt had one dating back to his previous term, and avoided being found to have committed an ethics violation.
On the other hand, comments about an officeholder's decisions don't always relate to a change in that person's office. Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell was criticized for two years over a user fee most equate to a tax increase, and, more recently, regarding issues with the city police department. Those comments were made in letters to the editor as well as to our web channel. Still, Newell handily, if not overwhelmingly (as he had in two previous elections), won re-election to a third consecutive term, a record in the current city form of government. That doesn't mean the lawsuits involving the police department will go away soon, but it does apparently mean the user fee is here to stay.
President Obama sees his re-election as a mandate by voters to keep his policies in place. Interestingly, however, while voters collectively decided to keep Obama, they're also keeping the Congress which, at least in the last two years, has fought those policies. Democrats did win a few more seats in the Senate, but the results mean that, while Obama remains in office, Harry Reid still runs the Senate and John Boehner remains Speaker of the House. And while he did win handily in the Electoral College, the president's margin in the popular vote was smaller than it was in 2008. Furthermore, in all of the "swing states" he won (including Florida, which finally reported its results on Saturday), the margin of victory was close. All this indicates the U.S. is still a politically divided country.
Finally, the political ads are over, something we're as happy to see as you are. But a 2014 congressional election is just a little more than a year away, and they'll be back again before we know it. The only good news is that, with the statewide elections in West Virginia over with, the special elections which began with the death of Robert C. Byrd more than two years ago are over as well.
At least we hope so.
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