Strick tops Buzzard, Hiles in race for Huntington mayor

A beaming Richard Strick acknowledges supporters at his campaign headquarters in downtown Huntington in the wake of winning Huntington’s mayoral race on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Strick, an independent, defeated Republican Larry Buzzard and independent Johnnie Hiles in the municipal election, capturing 49.73 percent of the vote.
A beaming Richard Strick acknowledges supporters at his campaign headquarters in downtown Huntington in the wake of winning Huntington’s mayoral race on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Strick, an independent, defeated Republican Larry Buzzard and independent Johnnie Hiles in the municipal election, capturing 49.73 percent of the vote. Photo by Steve Clark.

Independent candidate Richard Strick will be Huntington’s next mayor after defeating Republican Larry Buzzard and independent Johnnie Hiles in the municipal election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Strick, the 3rd District representative on the Huntington Common Council, won 49.73 percent of the vote, or 2,060 votes. Buzzard, the president of the Huntington County Commissioners, was the race’s runner-up, earning 38.07 percent of the vote, or 1,577 votes. Hiles, who was also an independent mayoral candidate in 2015, placed third with 505 votes, or 12.19 percent.

Strick was elected to the Huntington Common Council as a Republican, but says he was motivated to make an independent run for mayor after studying Buzzard and Hiles’ platforms and dissenting with their priorities for Huntington.

At his campaign headquarters in downtown Huntington, Strick expressed gratitude to his supporters.

“I just want to say thank you,” he said. “Because we had over 90 volunteers. We had over 145 donors to this campaign. We canvassed over 3,700 homes of active voters in this community.

“And we turned out the vote. It was us.”

For Buzzard, a veteran of Huntington County politics, the loss dashed his hopes of attaining Huntington’s highest office, which he also pursued in 2011 and 2015. After losing the Republican mayoral nomination to Brooks Fetters in those years’ municipal primaries, he defeated Fetters in this year’s primary.

At a Huntington County Republican Party gathering at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2689, Buzzard said he was surprised by the outcome, but accepted the public’s decision.

“Not what we expected,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, it’s the voters and the city that chooses leadership and they’ve made that choice.

“I wish Richard Strick nothing but the best for him and his administration and, most importantly, for the city.”

Hiles could not be reached for comment.

While it was a somber night for Buzzard, other Republicans in the county had cause to celebrate. One of those GOP’ers was Jerry Meehan Jr., a political newcomer who won a four-man race for the 3rd District seat on the Huntington Common Council. Meehan captured 42.72 percent of the vote, or 276 votes.

A smiling Meehan called the win “overwhelming” and pledged to focus on three areas upon taking his council seat.

“Is it a want or a need? Is it good for the citizens of the City of Huntington? And, can we afford it? Those are my three things,” he said.
Independent Eric Bruce finished second to Meehan, earning 186 votes. Democrat Richard Douglas Mills took third with 100 votes while independent Tony Hiles finished fourth with 84 votes.

The county’s other triumphant Republicans resided in Andrews, where three GOP candidates swept the trio of seats up for grabs on the Andrews Town Council. Laura Dillon received 142 votes, Roger Newsome Jr. earned 122 and incumbent John Harshbarger netted 106.

The race also featured Democrat Raymond “Ray” Tackett, who garnered 71 votes.

The county’s other contested races featured lineups of independent candidates. In Roanoke, three open seats on the Roanoke Town Council went to incumbent Joan Abbott, 410 votes; David Meitzler, 400; and Pamala Parker, 352.

David Tucker, the council’s president, fell short on re-election, garnering 306 votes.

The race for the Roanoke clerk-treasurer’s office saw Sarah Milton unseat longtime incumbent JoAnne Kirchner. Milton earned 410 votes to Kirchner’s 147.

In Warren, Ethan Stivers and Tavis Surfus emerged from a four-candidate field to take the two open seats on the Warren Town Council. Stivers, an incumbent, garnered 245 votes while Surfus earned 243.

Incumbent Julia Glessner lost out on re-election, receiving 163 votes. The race also featured Michael Yoder, who tallied 42 votes.

All other candidates in the county won election or re-election after running unopposed. Those people are:
Clerk-Treasurer, City of Huntington
Christi McElhaney. *
Huntington Common Council, 1st District
Charles Chapman. *
Huntington Common Council, 2nd District
Paul Pike. *
Huntington Common Council, 4th District
David Funk. *
Huntington Common Council, 5th District
Joe Blomeke. *
Huntington Common Council, At-Large (vote for two)
Patrick “PJ” Felton.
Seth Marshall. *
Clerk-Treasurer, Town of Andrews
Laury Powell.
Markle Town Council (vote for two)
Matthew Doss. *
Nicolas Lund.
Clerk-Treasurer, Town of Warren
Marilyn Morrison. *
* – denotes incumbent.

A total of 9,418 voters cast ballots in the election, representing 38.70 percent of the county’s voters. There are 24,333 registered voters in the county.