Election liveblog: Decision day in Charlottesville and Albemarle

Election liveblog: Decision day in Charlottesville and Albemarle

It’s election day, so don’t forget to cast your vote—and, while you’re at it, take a few friends, neighbors, or strangers to the polls with you. Meanwhile, we’ll be liveblogging all day and into the evening to give you an inside look at the election news as it happens.

Will Charlottesville elect a Republican city councilor or two? Will the County’s balance of power shift? Take a look at our recap of those races from last month here, get familiar with your ballot here, and refresh your memory of exactly where to vote here (polls opened at 6am and will close at 7pm). Check back with us here and follow us on Twitter—we’re @cvillenews_desk—as we offer updates throughout the day, and let us know via tweet or in the comments what you’re seeing and hearing at the polls.

11pm—Democrats are celebrating sweeps in city and county as well as a gubernatorial win, and we’re closing up shop for the night. Check back with us tomorrow morning for a full wrap, including some more comments from people in both parties on races won and lost and what today’s results mean for the political outlook in both municipalities.

10:25pm—Wrapping up the victory celebration, newly elected Rio district supervisor Brad Sheffield said there was no trick to the Dem sweep in the County. “I think all the candidates worked really hard,” he said. “I know they did and it really paid off.  With voters, the different campaigns resonated.” And what’s first for Sheffield in the new job? “Transportation,” said Sheffield. “And taking us in the direction we need to go in the different parts of the county.”

9:55pm—Republicans Farruggio and Weber concede loss in Charlottesville to incumbent Kristin Szakos and her fellow Democrat Bob Fenwick. “They might have won this campaign, but the issues we ran on are not going to go away,” said Weber.

The vote totals in Charlottesville, according to the GOP: Bob Fenwick, 6,181 votes; Kristin Szakos, 6,868; Mike Farruggio, 3,523; Buddy Weber, 2,866.

9:42pm—With four of 10 Charlottesville precincts reporting, the totals are at: Szakos (D), 38.7 percent; Fenwick (D), 34.6 percent; Farruggio (R), 18.3 percent; and Weber (R), 8.5 percent.

9:38pm—Rodney Thomas, who has lost his bid to keep his Rio district seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, said tonight’s results were unexpected.

“It’s a surprise, I have to be honest with you,” he said when we reached him at the county Republicans’ gathering at Lord Hardwicke’s. “It’s kind of hard to defeat the Democratic Party when the vote down from the top. But maybe I just didn’t do the things I needed to do.”

Now, he said, “I’ll get to get back into business.”

9:25pm—All Albemarle precincts reporting. Dems win across the board by double-digit margins, and McKeel takes Jouett.

9:17pm—City Republicans give a quiet cheer at the news that Cuccinelli is in the lead in the governor’s race. They’re snacking on desserts while they wait for the rest of their precinct tallies.

9:10pm—It’s looking like a sweep for the Dems in the county. Sheffield, Palmer, and Dittmar ahead by more than 10-point margins with all but one precinct reporting in each of their districts. McKeel ahead by 40 points in Jouett.

8:49pm—Farruggio addresses supporters to reveal results in Clark precinct: Szakos with 39 percent, Fenwick 35 percent,  Farruggio 14 percent, Weber 10 percent.

8:47pm—Dems say Dittmar won by 600 votes in Cale, so they expect her to take Scottsville.

8:40pm—With four of seven precincts reporting, Liz Palmer seems to be “bypassing” Duane Snow, with a 5.5 percentage point lead. Dems project Palmer victory at Escafe.

8:31pm—Charlottesville registrar Sheri Iachetta says city results should start coming in within the half hour—later than expected because of a hiccup that required machines from the city’s nine precincts to be toted to the basement of the registrar’s office and hooked up to a secure computer for vote tabulations.

So what happened? It wasn’t a glitch, exactly. “There was a password error,” Iachetta said, so officials had to resort to the failsafe of the basement computer. “Our machines are so secure even we couldn’t get into them.”

8:29pm—With four of six precincts posted, Brad Sheffield has a roughly 60-40 lead over Rodney Thomas.

8:12pm—With three of five precincts reporting, Cindi Burket is up by 54 votes in the Scottsville district, according to the State Board of Elections site.

7:48pm—Registrar tells Farruggio campaign that it’ll be about an hour before any results, as a result of undefined coding issues with the voting machines.

7:41pm—Republican candidates Buddy Weber and Mike Farruggio are now in the house at Bashir’s, where glazed ham and other mouthwatering treats are being served up to an excited crowd of about 50 or so supporters. “He’s a great person with wonderful ideas and a lot of training in the city,” said Farruggio’s pal and running partner Chuck Lascano, an Albemarlean who couldn’t cast a vote for Farruggio but who showed up to offer his support with his wife, Peg.

election_news_bashirs_ham_1113Oh, what a ham… 

6:50pm—Tick tock. While we wait, here are two facts from a piece penned by UVA Center for Politics’ Larry Sabato et al a few months ago:

“If McAuliffe wins, he will be the first Virginia governor elected from the sitting president’s party since Mills Godwin (R) was elected in 1973, when Richard Nixon was in the White House. Also remarkably, should McAuliffe pull this off, it will be the first time since the 1880s that either party has been given just a single consecutive term in the Governor’s Mansion.”

6:35pm—With half an hour to go before the polls close, county Republican candidates say turnout numbers are high at the precincts they’ve been visiting.

“In Stone Robinson, I think they’re expecting around 51 or 52 percent, and in Scottsville about the same,” said Scottsville hopeful Cindi Burket. She’s heard a lot of comments about the Western Bypass—she’s in favor. “I’ve had a lot of people give me the thumbs up.”

“We’re over 40 percent up here in Earlysville, and that’s really good,” said Rodney Thomas, who’s running to keep his Rio seat. “Up here, most all of us were expecting around 30 percent.”

He, Burket, and Samuel Miller incumbent Duane Snow will be camped out at Lord Hardwicke’s to watch the results come in with other county Republicans.

“We’re all hoping we’re going to be getting the phone call rather than making it,” he said.

5:35pm—Just before 5:30pm, a voter approaches Democratic candidate for the Rio District seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Brad Sheffield’s wife Christi outside the Rio precinct at CATEC.

“I was number 1,200” says the woman. Sheffield is enthusiastic.

“We were only expecting a total of 1,100 all day,” she says, adding that in an afternoon conversation with Rodney Thomas, he said numbers were up in his precinct as well.

“It’s going to be a close game,” says a serious Alex Sheffield, age “almost 10,” who warded off the evening chill in a smurfette hat.

Christi and Alex Sheffield. Photo: Courteney Stuart.


Christi Sheffield, wife of Rio District candidate Brad Sheffield, with daughter Alex at the polls at CATEC. Photo: Courteney Stuart.

5:30pm—Republican city council candidate Mike Farruggio told us he’s been at the polls at Key Recreation Center since 6am. Democrats keep pointing him out as the Republican.

“This is a nonpartisan election, but I’m feeling a little pinpointed,” he said.

His son Jake, who has been with him all day, has an assessment: More people have said they’re voting for his dad. “I think we got it,” he says with a smile.

5:15pm—Albemarle County turnout at 4pm was at 37 percent, according to the county registrar’s office.

4:35pm—As of half an hour ago, city turnout was at 27 percent, according to Kate Little in the registrar’s office, who says she’s had reports that traffic has been “steady all day.” That puts Charlottesville on track for a significantly higher turnout than expected, say pols.

4pm—Our eye is on the local races today, but the rest of the country is watching Virginia’s gubernatorial contest with interest—in part because, like New Jersey’s, it’s considered a bellwether, coming as it does just a year after the presidential election. National media has showered the Commonwealth’s race for governor with a good deal of attention, and the narrative that’s emerged is one of an expected Cuccinelli failure serving as a symbolic loss for the Tea Party movement. See The Atlantic for that one. Over at the New York Times, it’s a story of the invocation of Obama, Obamacare, and the shutdown showdown by both camps.

And then there’s the Daily Show. Contributor Al Madrigal interviewed Larry Sabato and Downtown Mall pedestrians (see if you can spot a familiar face or two) for a segment comparing Virginia’s choice to a decision between pond scum and dog poop. 

1:56pm—“They’re running out of sample ballots at Tonsler,” said dem city council candidate Kristin Szakos, standing outside the Cherry Avenue precinct at the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia. Szakos noted that more sample ballots were on the way to Tonsler, and expressed her belief that election turnout is higher than expected. “The gubernatorial race is very polarizing, but it makes a clear choice for voters,” she said. Another reason for an elevated number of local voters: “Having both democrats and republicans on the [city council] ticket increases turnout.” According to precinct supervisor Jeff Greer, 319 of 2,838 registered voters—about 11 percent— had already cast ballots at the Boys & Girls Club location by 1pm. At the same polling place, Mike Farruggio’s family—including his sister-in-law Becky Campbell and two of his five children—greeted voters as they arrived.


Republican city council candidate Mike Farruggio’s daughters Emma, 11, and Jenny, 24,  greeted voters with smiles.

12:20pm—We caught up with Phillip Seay, independent candidate for the Jack Jouett seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, by phone as he bounced between polling places in his district.

Seay leans right where his opponent Diantha McKeel, also running as an independent, leans left. They’re vying for the seat being vacated by longtime supe Dennis Rooker, an independent who tended to vote with the Dems during his years on the dais. All that has added up to the seat being something of a question mark in the potential political tilt of the next Board. But McKeel has been the front-runner, and as of September, she’d out-fundraised Seay more than two to one.

But the president of Charlottesville’s First Tee said whatever the outcome of the race, he’s enjoyed his candidacy. Running as a moderate independent might not have won him the financial support of the local political establishment, but he thinks local residents are looking for a departure from the partisanship party politics engenders.

“People do want their government officials to do the right thing, and they’re tired of how certain factions seem to overtake good thinking,” he said, and that was a good lesson to take away after the last few months.

“I think everyone should run for office at least once,” he said. 

9:15am—Election day dawned with below freezing temperatures, but that didn’t stop the dozen or so early morning voters who were already lined up at the Tonsler Park voting precinct soon after the polls opened at 6am. Outside the park’s rec center building, independent candidate for commissioner of the revenue Taneia Dowell planted a sign bearing her name and greeted an arriving voter in the parking lot. Dowell, 28, a single mother of one and executive manager of the 10th Street Bed and Breakfast, is facing off against Democrat Todd Divers and fellow independent John Gunter. At a table set up on the sidewalk nearby, uncontested Democratic candidate for city treasurer Jason Vandever, pictured at right, manned a table with poll observer Caitlyn Yana, handing out sample Democratic ballots and chatting with election volunteer Jesse A. Williams.





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