Henrico County voters re-elected all five incumbents to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, frustrating local Democrats’ efforts to take back political control.
Though only four of the five board positions were contested in Tuesday’s general election, Three Chopt Supervisor Tommy Branin faced a primary opponent in June, meaning all five supervisors were at least nominally challenged this year.
Like Branin, who won by a 2-to-1 margin against a challenger for the Republican nomination earlier this year, most incumbents soundly defeated their opponents.
According to preliminary results reported by the Virginia Department of Elections, Board Chairman Tyrone Nelson and Supervisors Pat O’Bannon and Frank Thornton secured about 70% of the vote in their respective districts.
Nelson, who represents Varina, said the results show voters are satisfied with how the county is being run. “I look at our election every four years as a referendum on how we’re doing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to four more years of working with my colleagues to make Henrico a better place.”
With all but one of Varina’s precincts reporting, Nelson had trounced independent challenger Angela Rowe.
The results Tuesday ensure that the 3-2 Republican majority on the board will remain firm after special elections in the Brookland District saw the majority on the board swapped twice.
Democrats last held the majority after Courtney Lynch stunned in a victory over Bob Witte in a 2017 special election in Brookland; she later resigned her post, dashing Democratic voters’ hopes that the county would aggressively pursue a progressive, equity-focused agenda.
After defeating the Democratic candidate in a special election following Lynch’s resignation last year, Republican Dan Schmitt solidified his grasp on the Brookland seat by defeating Democratic challenger Steven Burkharth by 15 percentage points, according to preliminary results.
With 13 of the district’s 15 precincts reporting by 9 p.m. Tuesday, Schmitt won with about 60% of the votes in his district.
“Brookland voters said it again today — they don’t want party politics in their district,” said Schmitt of his victory.
“People in Henrico think we’re moving in the right direction. It’s because my counterparts consistently put party politics aside all the time to do what’s best for the county. We’ve got five folks who are dedicated to fiscal discipline, building libraries and schools and fully funding public safety.”
The board’s two longest-serving members, Thornton and O’Bannon, both won a seventh term to the board.
Thornton, a Democrat, beat independent candidate Delta Bowers, while O’Bannon, a Republican, defeated Marques Jones, the former chairman of the county’s Democratic committee.
Jones initially stepped down from his role as the head of the local committee last year to run for the Virginia Senate, but later recast himself as a candidate for Henrico’s locally elected board after determining that he could not raise enough money to run for state office.
“I think it shows the power of the incumbency,” Jones said of the results. “But I’m proud of the effort we put in. I have no regrets.”