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GOP gains two spots on Spotsylvania board

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Republicans strengthened their majority on the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors by picking up two seats on Tuesday, according to preliminary results.

The only supervisors race to go against the GOP was in the Lee Hill District, where incumbent Gary Skinner, an independent, defeated challenger Mark Shigley with 52.7 percent of the vote. Shigley, who ran as an “independent conservative,” received financial backing from the Spotsylvania Republican Committee.

Republican Greg Cebula narrowly won a three-way race for the Berkeley District seat being vacated by longtime Supervisor Emmitt Marshall, an independent. Cebula received 41 percent of the vote to edge out independent Dennis Buchanan—whom Marshall endorsed—by 88 votes. Mark Kuechler, the third candidate, received 19.25 percent of the vote, making this his third losing bid for the Berkeley District supervisors seat.

Republican Chris Yakabouski easily won the open Battlefield District seat with 43.5 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Current Battlefield Supervisor Benjamin Pitts, an independent, did not seek reelection.

Candidate Willie Brown came in second with 32.85 percent of the vote. Lora Pierce, the third candidate in the Battlefield District, got 23 percent.

Conservatives have had a majority on the seven-member Board of Supervisors since 2012, when four anti-tax supervisors took office.

“I think overall what voters are saying is that they prefer a conservative view when it comes to the role of government and the way that government interacts with people on a day-to-day basis,” Yakabouski said.

He last ran for the Battlefield seat in 2009 but lost to Pitts, who has been a vocal critic of the board’s conservative bloc.

Cebula, the other Republican to win, called his victory a “new moment for the Berkeley District.”

“We will be moving forward to a business-friendly county,” he said.

Marshall, the current Berkeley supervisor, is stepping down after 34 years on the board.

Cebula received the local Republican nomination in May with 56 percent of the vote. But some of the more conservative local GOP members opposed his candidacy and even denied him membership in the Spotsylvania Republican Committee. Cebula blamed that turn of events on what he called a “renegade group” in the local GOP.

Buchanan, who narrowly lost to Cebula, attributed his loss to a lot of Spotsylvania Republicans turning out to vote for gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

Skinner, the only independent to win in the supervisors races, acknowledged being in the minority and said the current board needs to work together on issues such as transportation.

“Hopefully there will be issues I can help them with, and there will be issues they can help me with,” he said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402