MORGANTOWN – There was a sense of relief for two candidates in Monongalia County who maintained narrow margins of victory after election canvassing was completed on Monday. Democrat Jeff Arnett was certified the winner in the race for Monongalia County Commission, defeating Republican Incumbent Ed Hawkins by 194 votes. Democrat Delegate John Williams was re-elected for a third term to the state House of Delegates, beating out former Delegate Cindy Frich by 33 votes.
“I’d say relieved is a good way to describe it,” Williams said on WAJR’s Talk of the Town with Dave & Sarah. “I’m happy it’s over and happy about the result.”
For Arnett, the race for county commission was his first venture into politics was not certain what would happen after all the provisional ballots and absentee ballots were added to the total.
“I wasn’t confident at all,” admitted Arnett. “I didn’t know what to think. There was a bit of uncertainty with how many absentee ballots would come in. But as the number of outstanding votes that would be counted became more and more apparent, my confidence grew.”
Arnett joins a county commission that has built a reputation of fiscal responsibility and utilizing each commissioners individual skill sets to effectively serve the needs of the county. Arnett believes he can step in and continue that precedent.
“Just having an overall respect for the job that the commission as a whole has done, puts me in the right mindset coming in. I look forward working with them and following their lead, at least in the early going.”
Arnett joins Democrat Tom Bloom and Republican Sean Sikora on the commission and has already started the process of getting up to speed on commission business.
Williams, on the other hand, will begin his third term in Charleston representing the 51st District and is optimistic that relationships he has fostered over the last four years along with willingness to work across the aisle will help him gather support for more of his initiatives.
“I think that’s why I’m well positions for this legislature, because of my ability to work across the aisle. I’m looking forward to it,” said Williams.
“You can be someone who has strong convictions and you can maintain those convictions without casting dispersions against your philosophical opponents on the other side. The nastiness that ramps up in partisan arguments deters cooperation on other key issues.”
The ability to work with Republicans will necessary as the GOP nows holds a 76-24 advantage in the House.
However, that willingness to work with legislators in the opposite party, may have played a role in putting Williams in a position to sweat out waiting for absentee ballots and provisional ballots to be counted nearly a week after the election.
“I got hit from both the right and the left. I worry sometimes that there is a decreasing amount of room for folks who try to work across the aisle,” observed Williams.
Williams heads back to Charleston with fellow Democrat incumbents Barbara Evans Fleischauer, Evan Hansen and Danielle Walker. Meanwhile, former Delegate Joe Statler, a Republican, won election to his old seat after being voted out in 2014.