Gillespie and McKown in tight race for park board

May 9, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Newcomer Pete Gillespie was leading 40-year Greater Huntington Park and Recreation Board of Commissioner Charles McKown during the Democratic primary election Tuesday night in the District 1 race, according to incomplete and unofficial results.

Although neck-and-neck for most of the night, Gillespie pulled ahead as the night drew to a close.

With 25 of the 34 precincts reporting in Huntington and 7 of 7 precincts reporting in Wayne County, Gillespie had 3,129 votes, while his opponent McKown had 2,896.

McKown, 83, was first elected to the Park Board in 1975.

Newcomer Gillespie, 41, is the owner of Kustom Kraft Upholstery & Odd Goods. He was previously elected to Huntington City Council in 2012 for District 2 in the West End but resigned in early October 2014 following an arrest for violating the terms of his home confinement for a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction.

The winner of the District 1 Democratic primary will face Republican Jill LaFear in the general election.

The remaining races for the Park Board were being led by the incumbents.

In District 2, incumbent Alan S. Morrison had pushed past Leif Olson.

Morrison had received 3,255 votes, or 28 percent, while Olson had received 2,221 votes, or just over 19 percent.

Morrison, 64, is the co-business owner of The C.I. Thornburg Co. Inc. and has served on the Park Board for eight years.

The winner of the District 2 Democratic primary will face Republican Daniel Yon in the general election.

The only other contested race for the park board lies in District 4, with Republican incumbent Rocco Morabito pulling ahead of his opponent, Nate Randolph, by more than 400 votes.

Morabito had received about 34 percent of the votes, while Randolph had just over 21 percent.

Morabito, 67, has served on the Park Board since January 2013.

The winner of the District 4 race will win the seat because there is no Democratic opposition.

The board of commissioners oversees the local park system, which includes more than 1,400 acres of parks in Cabell County and part of Wayne County and four cemeteries.

The 11-member park board is broken into six districts: five in Cabell County and one in Westmoreland, which is the Wayne County neighborhood of Huntington. Members serve sixyear staggered terms and receive no financial compensation.

Up to two members per district could be elected, with Westmoreland always represented by at least one member.

Voters in Cabell County and Westmoreland could vote for up to four candidates in any district, no matter where they reside.

Current commissioners include District 1: Dr. Charles H. McKown and Stacy Wehrle; District 2: Alan S. Morrison and Paul King; District 3: Gordon D. Jones and Kim Miller; District 4: Randall Rhoades, and Rocco Morabito; District 5: Bill Kelley and Don McCroskey; Westmoreland District: Sandra Earl Pinson.