No surprises in Washington election, even after write-ins

In races that were in all cases uncontested — except for one, at the very last minute — not quite three dozen of Washington’s 120 registered voters turned out Tuesday to elect their town leaders for the next four years.

Councilman John Fox Sullivan was elected mayor, garnering the most votes of any single candidate — 33 — to handily defeat a yet- unidentified write-in candidate, who received one vote.

Mayor Eugene Leggett received 27 votes to be elected to the Town Council, after deciding several months ago that he wouldn’t run for mayor a second time. Alice Butler, with 28 votes, won her fourth term on the council.

With 32 votes each, Inn at Little Washington owner and chef Patrick O’Connell, Heritage House co-owner Gary Schwartz and Middleton Inn owner Mary Ann Kuhn were elected to their first terms to the Town Council — though Schwartz, since last April, and O’Connell, since last November, were appointed to the body to serve out the terms of others.

The closest race turned out to be that of J.R. “Jerry” Goebel Jr., who received 21 votes to be reelected to his third term as treasurer, a part-time post that includes a seat on the Town Council.

Write-in candidate Jay Brown, co-owner of the Gay Street Inn, thanks to an eleventh-hour campaign by his partner Kevin Adams (and unknown to Brown until Tuesday night), apparently received 16 votes for treasurer.

Adams said he spent most of the day Tuesday at the polls, happily standing the required 40 feet from the front door of the Washington Fire Hall, speaking to voters and handing out small cards he’d made that showed how to vote for a write-in candidate.

He said he decided to campaign only the night before, and that Brown, who knew he’d be out of town this week and so turned in an absentee ballot Saturday, had similarly decided on the spur of the moment to write in his own name for the treasurer post.

“If nothing else,” Adams said, “I so enjoyed hearing people’s honest opinions, and perspective, on the existing town council and . . . often specific opinions about specific people on the town council.

“I loved being part of the process . . . having heartfelt conversations with people I otherwise would not have had,” he said.
As for Brown’s last-minute decision to write his own name in, Adams said: “It had nothing to do with Jerry . . . Jay felt very strongly that the Town Council needed to make the town’s finances more . . . clear. And so the write-in vote was about offering to help make the town’s finances more clear to the average person.

“It was not about being against Jerry; Jay was volunteering to help — and this was his way,” Adams said. “And for me the biggest part of the decision was whether I wanted to share him with the town. Once I decided that, yes, the town could benefit, then I felt compelled to do all I could.”

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 545 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.