By Elizabeth Bell
As the Nov. 5 election quickly approaches, many of the seats on the ballot in Rockbridge County have already been decided, simply because there’s only one candidate running.
Nine local races have one candidate or no candidate running for office in the upcoming election in Rockbridge County.
In the 2019 and 2018 elections, 75 percent of the races in Rockbridge County have been uncontested, which is the highest percentage in over a decade, according to data provided by the county voter registrar.
Since 2008, the number of Rockbridge County elections without at least two candidates on the ballot has increased. Check out this graph for more information on election trends in Rockbridge County.
Across the country, unopposed elections are on the rise, according to a Rice University study. About 60 percent of elections for mayor had only one candidate in 2016.
The number of uncontested races is higher in small towns than big cities, the study said. In small towns, 79 percent of elections are unopposed, compared to only 15 percent in the biggest cities.
“Small towns don’t pay elected officials as much, and with a lack of party support and the extensive amount of work it takes, there’s less incentive to run,” said Mark Rush, a politics professor at Washington and Lee University.
In Rockbridge County, one candidate will appear on the ballot for commonwealth’s attorney, sheriff, two seats on the school board, and commissioner of revenue.
No candidates will appear on the ballot for mayor of Glasgow, for a seat on the school board in Natural Bridge, or for two seats on the Natural Bridge Soil and Water Conservation Board.
Meet the Candidates:
Jared Moon, the interim incumbent, is running as a Republican in the uncontested race for commonwealth’s attorney for Rockbridge County and Lexington.
He was sworn in as interim commonwealth’s attorney in March, after Chris Billias was appointed as a general district judge. Moon had served as Billias’ chief deputy since 2016.
Moon said during his term, he plans to continue emphasizing crimes against children, seeking long sentences for distributors of drugs and protecting victims of domestic violence.
Steve Funkhouser is the only candidate running for sheriff of Rockbridge County, but he isn’t the incumbent.
Funkhouser is a lieutenant in the sheriff’s department, where he has worked since 1996. He was a Major in the Virginia Army National Guard and graduated from Radford University.
Chris Blalock is not running for re-election, after serving eight years as Rockbridge County Sheriff.
Mayor of Glasgow
There is no candidate on the ballot for mayor of Glasgow. This means that voters will select the new mayor by writing in a candidate’s name.
Shane Watts is running for mayor as a write-in, but his name is also on the ballot as a candidate for town council.
Three of the county school board’s five districts are up for election this year.
Wendy Lovell and Neil Whitmore are running unopposed for re-election in the Buffalo District and Walkers Creek District, respectively.
In the Natural Bridge district, no candidates are on the ballot. But Kathy Burant is running as a write-in candidate.