Incumbent Felinton wins tight race
HUNTINGTON — Incumbent David Felinton held off Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey and two other challengers Tuesday night for the Democratic nomination for Huntington mayor.
Felinton will face Cabell County Sheriff Kim Wolfe and possibly two independents in the Nov. 4 general election. Wolfe was the only Republican to file for mayor.
With all of the city’s 43 precincts reporting in Cabell and Wayne counties, unofficial returns show Felinton with a 179-vote victory over Bailey. Felinton finished with 3,562 votes to Bailey’s 3,383.
Bailey was followed by downtown business owner Shawn Bresnahan with 1,215 votes and Guyandotte resident Lucille Wight with 591 votes.
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Felinton, who celebrated with family and friends at his Southside home Tuesday night, said his victory shows the mayor’s race can be won at the grassroots level.
“It’s been an interesting campaign,” he said. “We weren’t active with fundraising, but relied on grassroots. The people came out and responded and I’m grateful for that.”
The 33-year-old Felinton ran a low-key campaign, raising a little more than $5,000. Bailey raised about $25,000.
In his bid for a third and final four-year term, Felinton has focused on making Huntington a creative hub for the region and an attractive place to live for families through the development of the Old Main Corridor, the implementation of a community art policy and better access to entrepreneurial
He also said that while services will not immediately improve no matter who is elected mayor, he is committed to changes that will enhance them over the long run, such as pension reform, making city employees pay more for health insurance and changing the city’s tax structure under its home rule plan.
Bailey said he was disappointed with Tuesday’s results, but thanked his supporters for their help in his mayoral bid.
“I’ve got four-and-a-half more years on the county commission and I will go and serve the people of Cabell County,” he said.
Wolfe, who was watching election returns at the Cabell County Courthouse, said it doesn’t matter who his opponent is in November.
“I’m not really running against someone,” he said. “I’m running for myself and for the city’s residents.”
Wolfe has said little about his campaign platform, primarily because he was unopposed in the primary. However, he plans to kick his mayoral bid into high gear over the next several weeks.
Wolfe said improving services such as police protection, street paving and litter pickup will be at the heart of his campaign. The experience he’s gained in his eight years as sheriff also will play a role, he said.
“I believe my expertise in tax collections and law enforcement make me the better candidate,” Wolfe said. “We’re faced with major issues based on wrong decisions that the mayor has made.
“When he made budget cuts several years ago, he took almost all of it out on the Police Department. That sent a message to the department and residents that law enforcement wasn’t a priority and it sent a message to criminals that the city was open for business.”
Felinton said he thinks highly of Wolfe and looks forward to running against him, but believes he is best-suited to lead.
“It’s no secret that crime is a major issue of this campaign,” Felinton said. “Sheriff Wolfe has a career in law enforcement, but his background before sheriff was just patrol level with the (Huntington) Police Department.”
Two more names could be added to the mayor’s race later this week. Former Councilman Tom McCallister and Southside resident Robin Howell have submitted petitions with the required number of signatures to be added to the general election ballot as independents. Assistant City Clerk Kathy Torlone said the petitions will be reviewed later this week to determine whether they are valid.