PARKERSBURG - Incumbent Wood County Commission President Blair Couch took an early lead election night and bested his Democratic opponent, former Wood County Prosecutor Harry Deitzler, by an unofficial vote of 58.82 percent to 41.14 percent.
With the precincts finally in, Couch ended the night with a vote total of 19,292 to Deitzler's 13,492 votes.
Couch said he was out election night picking up campaign signs. He dropped by the Wood County Courthouse later in the evening.
"I want to thank all the supporters, volunteers and the community as a whole who stood by me. I really appreciate it," Couch said election night. "I am really humbled by the support of Wood County. This is the third election in which an incumbent commissioner ran and the first in three the incumbent won. I beat an incumbent, Wayne Dunn beat an incumbent and Steve Gainer beat an incumbent. It was a strong show of leadership, the county commission is well thought of, and it also proves really negative advertising doesn't work in Wood County," Couch said.
Deitzler said the election for him was overall an "enjoyable and rewarding experience."
"I trully appreciate all the people who voted for me, and I wish the best for the winners. This was the first election of my career where so many people called and stopped me on the street and offered their encouragement. I'm looking forward to continuing to work, volunteer and donate in our community," Deitzler said.
When asked if he might run for another public office, Deitzler said he looks forward "to any opportunity where I can make this a better community where our children will want to live, work and raise their families."
Couch earlier listed accomplishments while in office, as the new 911 dispatch system, energy upgrades in buildings, adding a pre-trial coordinator at the Day Report Center; passing a 2.5 percent local vendor preference for bidding, Claywood Park Riser Ridge water project, appointment of a park director, property cleanups, reduction of insurance costs, replacement of courthouse steps, new website, innovate grant program, completion of the justice center, supported MOV work camp, creation of a trail plan, sponsoring veterans honor flights, adding playground at Fort Boreman Park, supporting the Mission of Mercy dental clinic, addition of the WARN alert system and purchase of bulletproof vests for deputies.
One of the challenges ahead, Couch noted earlier, will be the budget and the economy.
"We weathered the recession. We were concerned we might have to furlough employees, cut services, but we were able, through conservative budgeting, to not raise taxes, keep the employees and still provide funding to elected officials for services, still have funds in reserve and help community organizations as well. We were able to do all that without raising taxes. That will continue to be a challenge," Couch said.
Couch and his wife, Kim Lantz Couch, director of Camden Clark Hospital Foundation, live in Vienna and have two sons.
Deitzler is a former Charleston city councilman and is in the Charleston law firm of Carper, Bee and Deitzler. He served as the Wood County prosecutor and was a candidate for the office of West Virginia Attorney General in 1988. Deitzler subsequently engaged in the private practice of law since 1989.
He lives in Vienna with his wife Kathe, who is a nurse by Camden Clark Medical Center. They have two adult children.
Results of the election are unofficial until the conclusion of the canvass, which will commence on Tuesday and is expected to take two days.