Floyd County voters rejected a sheriff’s candidate running with personal animosity and a desire for revenge Tuesday and also told the school board to stand up to a headstrong superintendent with ego and anger management issues.
Longtime deputy sheriff Brian Craig captured just shy of 60 percent of the vote county wide, winning every district over fired bailiff and former State Trooper Jimmy Howery.
A clear majority of voters turned down Howery’s campaign of misstated statistics and and vague innuendos. His campaign of insults and mudslinging fell apart under scrutiny of news reports and detailed answers from Chief Investigator Jeff Dalton.
“Dirty politics doesn’t play well in Floyd County,” said one resident after voting in the Little River District — Howery’s home district where Craig collected 60.1 percent of the vote.
Howery conceded in a phone call to Craig at 8:38 p.m. — 98 minutes after the polls closed.
Voters also rejected at least two and possibly a third of the candidates endorsed by the county’s Republican Party. Republicans pushed tea party activist Becky Howell for a vacant school board seat in Burks Fork District, but voters clearly preferred Laura Harman LeRoy with 59.14 percent of the vote. LeRoy is considered a school board member who will challenge a high-handed approach and controversial actions by superintendent Kevin Harris.
The GOP also endorsed a write-in effort by retiring Little River Supervisor Virgel Allen against incumbent James Ingram for the school board seat for that district. Voters said “no way” and re-elected Ingram with 83.49 percent.
Republicans also endorsed retired business executive Eddie Worth to fill Allen’s seat on the board of supervisors but he fell eight votes short — 531 to 523 — to Linda DeVito Kuchenbuch. She declared victory on Facbook Tuesday night, Worth had not conceded in our last conversation with him. With some provisional ballots still out, the final numbers could change and a recount is possible.
In one other contested race, incumbent Burks Fork Supervisor Joe Turman held off challenges from drive-in restaurant owner Michael Schumann and restaurant owner and legal moonshiner Kerry Underwood. Republican Turman got 37.82 percent of the vote, followed by independent Schumann with 34.38 percent and Democrat with 27.8 percent.
A heavy influx of voters showed up on a rainy and foggy day throughout Floyd County. Little River logged more than 1,000 voters and most precincts reported 400 or more by late morning with still more arriving until polls closed.
The results showed some possible loosening of the grip that Republicans have on county races.