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Richards holds on to beat Fox for Parkersburg City Council seat

PARKERSBURG — Republican Austin Richards maintained his 23-vote lead from Election Day through Monday’s delayed canvass to win the District 9 seat on Parkersburg City Council.

Both Richards and Democratic incumbent Councilman Jeff Fox picked up five votes in the count, making the tally 804-781 in Richards’ favor.

On Nov. 9, the day the canvass was originally slated before two county commissioners’ absence due to illness delayed it, Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said there were eight absentee votes and 20 provisional ballots remaining in the district. Ten of those were added in Monday, with Commission President Blair Couch saying he believed the others were either under-voted, with no candidate marked, or challenged and not accepted.

Richards, a 33-year-old master Nissan technician, was making his first run for public office.

“I’m very excited to serve my district and the city,” he said Monday afternoon.

With the close vote and postponed canvass, it took a little longer to learn the outcome than he’d anticipated.

“I really expected to know sooner, but with the ways of the world right now … (you) just come to expect these things,” he said.

Fox, a 58-year-old journeyman wireman, lost out on a second term in the closest of five contested council races.

“I knew … the odds were against me making it up with that many votes left,” he said.

Fox said he started attending council meetings in 2015, six months before filing to run.

“It’s been an interesting five-and-a-half years,” he said, adding it was an honor to serve his constituents.

“Council’s not about any one person. It’s about what the group can do, and I wish this new group success.”

Richards will be one of four new members of council to take office in January, along with fellow Republicans Jessica Cottrille, who unseated Democrat Dave McCrady in District 1, and Chris Rexroad, who won against Democrat Tom Rafferty in the race to succeed Councilman John Reed in District 7. Democrat Wendy Tuck defeated Republican Councilman Eric Barber in District 4.

Councilman J.R. Carpenter, a Demcorat, was the only incumbent to win a contested council race in the general election, beating out Republican Dell Pomeroy by a margin of 401-374 after Monday’s canvass.

Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl fended off a challenge from Michael Hess in the GOP primary for District 2 and was unopposed in the general election, along with Councilmen Bob Mercer (District 3), Mike Reynolds, (District 6) and Zach Stanley (District 8) all Republicans.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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