By Shauna Muckle
This story contains a slideshow.
Chuck Smith, David Sigler and Chuck Smith have likely secured seats on Lexington City Council. Meanwhile, Collette Barry-Rec was headed towards defeat late Tuesday night.
As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, with three of Lexington’s four precincts reporting, Chuck Smith led the field with 30.89% of all votes cast, or 1,472 votes. Sigler followed close behind, with 29.91% of all votes cast. Betts received 26.84% of votes cast, while Barry-Rec received a mere 11.1% of votes cast, or 529 votes total.
Smith and Sigler are both incumbents on the council. Betts and Barry-Rec are first-time council candidates.
Voters will have to wait for the results from Lexington’s fourth precinct—it’s composed of mail-in ballots that didn’t arrive until today or later. Those ballots won’t be counted until tomorrow.
The typically low-key city election saw more controversy this year, as prospective voters pitted Barry-Rec against Betts, Sigler and Smith.
Barry-Rec supporters framed her as a fresh, independent voice that will protect citizen interests on the council. She was the only candidate not affiliated with Washington and Lee University. Sigler and Smith have spouses at Washington and Lee, while Betts is a graduate of the university’s law school.
“As the largest employer in the city, do we want over half of our city council with Washington and Lee ties making decisions for the residents of Lexington?” wrote resident Patricia Anthony in The News-Gazette Oct. 26. “Lexington residents deserve an independent city council, not one managed by W&L.”
On the flip side, supporters of Betts, Sigler and Smith took aim at Barry-Rec’s past conduct, including Facebook posts calling the 2020 presidential election a coup. Barry-Rec said her account was hacked and has since deleted her social media accounts.
“There is just one candidate this year, Collette Barry-Rec, with an unprecedented personal record of public disparagement, name calling, and incitement to harassment,” wrote resident Tinni Sen, who works as an economics professor at Virginia Military Institute. “She is now attempting to cover her behavior by 1) deleting her social media accounts, and, worse, 2) perfuming her past with a campaign platform of unity and civility.”
Barry-Rec also drew audible groans at a candidate forum Oct. 25, where she said she believes a mother’s place is in the home.
The four candidates faced off twice this fall at forums hosted by 50 Ways Rockbridge and the Lexington-Rockbridge Chamber of Commerce.
Betts, Sigler and Smith stood outside Lexington’s voting precinct on Spotswood Drive today, encouraging voters to cast their ballots.
The presumed winners of this election have identified their priorities for their next term on council. Sigler, Smith and Betts have emphasized that the city needs more housing, particularly affordable, multi-family options.
Smith also said the city will need to find creative revenue-raising options as big-ticket projects loom, including renovations to the area’s wastewater treatment plant, updates to Rockbridge County High School and a new local jail building.