Grayson, Galax voters head to the polls

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Fries Town Council gains three new faces, Galax incumbents keep their seats and a write-in vote decides an election in the Town of Independence.

By Staff Reports

Three new faces will join Fries Town Council, after voters voted to oust three incumbents in Tuesday’s municipal election, and an incumbent council member who did not file for re-election was returned to council anyway in Independence.
Ten candidates were seeking seven at-large seats in Fries.
Incumbents who won’t be returning to council after their current terms expire June 30 include  James W. “Walt” Elkins, Frankie W. Fortner and Kathryn M. James — the three candidates receiving the least votes. James received 4.64 percent of the total votes cast, followed by Elkins with 5.42 percent and Fortner with 6.3 percent.
For the re-elected incumbents, Gary Sumner received the most votes, 119, or 13.16 percent of the total. He was followed by Nancy P. Hawks with 118 votes or 13.05 percent, William “Bill” Davis with 12.05 percent and Carolyn J. Jones with 11.17 percent.
All three challengers won — Dawn Patton with 12.72 percent, Jo Ann Gunter with 10.95 percent and Jerry W. McCormick with 10.5 percent.
In Independence, there were three terms expiring in June. Incumbents Shane Allen and Ronald Sexton sought re-election, but Jason Cassell did not file to run.
Because of that, the third seat was to be determined by write-in vote. Cassell ended up winning the write-in vote, with 21 of the 31 write-ins bearing his name.
Allen received 25 votes and Sexton received 32.
In the Town of Troutdale, citizens elected a mayor, recorder and six council members.
Mayor William Mitchell was re-elected with 22 votes.
Carla Plummer won the write-in vote for recorder with 11 votes.
Four council members elected to serve were on the ballot, while the other two were write-ins. Candidates on the ballot were Patricia A. Tilson with 22 votes, Deborah R. Cornet and Ira. K. McGrady Jr. with 21 votes each and Tina Michelle Delp with 18 votes.
Write-in candidates who won seats on Troutdale Town Council included David McGrady with 14 votes and Bill Ring with eight.
The council members will begin their new terms July 1.

City of Galax
The three Galax City Council incumbents — Bill Webb, Sharon Plichta and Bob Lazo — will keep their seats, after holding off a challenge from newcomer Mike Stevens in Tuesday’s election.
The four candidates were seeking three at-large seats on council, so the three who received the most votes won.
The current terms expire June 30, and Webb, Plichta and Lazo will begin new terms starting July 1.
Plichta, who will begin serving her non-consecutive term, took the most votes with 226, or 29.04 percent of the total votes cast on Tuesday. Plichta had served on council from 2002 to 2006, but was defeated by Derrick Davis, who took her place in the 2006 election. She was then re-elected to council in 2008 for a second term.
The retired nurse and  U.S. Army veteran has worked to develop and raise money for the Blue Ridge Veterans Memorial being constructed beside the Galax Public Library.
Lazo, a physician at Carilion Family Practice in Galax since 1996, followed Plichta with 210 votes, or 26.99 percent. This will make Lazo’s third consecutive term on council, after the late Johnny Lemons asked that Lazo take his seat.
Webb came in third. The U.S. Army veteran and director of the Virginia Employment Commission office in Galax received 196 votes, or 25.19 percent. He will begin serving his second term.
Stevens, the only non-incumbent, received the fewest votes, 145, or 18.63 percent. Stevens is senior vice president of administration and secretary at Vaughan Furniture and serves as chair of the Republican Party committee in Galax.
The terms for Webb, Plichta and Lazo will expire in 2016.