The Morgan County, West Virginia school levy was passed by a vote of 54 percent (2,747) to 46 percent (2,350).
It was a resounding victory for a left-right coalition — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — conservatives and liberals — pushing back against an anti-tax grassroots coalition that defeated the school funding levy last year for the first time in 55 years — by a resounding 56 percent to 44 percent.
One difference between this year’s vote and last year’s vote? Turnout. More than two thousand more people (5,097) voted this year than last year (3,008). That includes more than 1,700 who voted early this year.
The pro-levy forces ran a smart campaign — with sharp green yard signs that said “Vote Yes for Levy — Good Schools, Lower Taxes.”
The pro-levy forces trimmed their new proposal from a 100 percent levy to a 70 percent levy. And they mailed to every voter in the county a simple post-card with a prominent American flag and a picture of the yard sign.
While the anti-levy forces held the energy difference during last year’s campaign, the differential was reversed this year as the pro-levy forces took charge from the beginning and didn’t let up until the end. The pro-levy forces had more and more professionally designed yard signs and campaign materials. And they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
The Morgan County Commission room was packed last night — with pro-levy forces dominating.
But the anti-levy forces were gracious in defeat.
“We did all we can do and the voters voted,” said Jeannie Ford, the leader of the anti-levy movement. “They put on a good campaign. We had to fight the Board of Education — the largest employer in the county. But we also had to fight the Morgan Messenger. We did good. And I want to thank all of the people in my campaign that voted against the levy. We gave it a fair shot.”
“You have to give them credit,” said Brooks McCumbee, another leader of the anti-levy forces and an unsuccessful candidate for school board. “They went out there and worked hard. I don’t believe that once a group of people have spoken that you should get a do over. But in America, you can. And that’s the beauty of the democratic process. It’s time for the people of the county to put their personal differences aside and try to get back together and do what is right for the kids. It is what it is. The people spoke.”
In the Republican race for Morgan County Commission, Joel Tuttle defeated Marshall Younker by 59 percent (1,685) to 41 percent (1,167).
The levy vote does not bode well for Morgan County Commissioner Stacy Dugan, who ran unopposed in her Democratic primary.
Dugan refused to take a public position on the levy this year while Tuttle, her opponent in November, came out strongly for the levy.