NEW CUMBERLAND-Hancock County voters chose change over continuity Tuesday by electing Democrat Joe Barnabei over incumbent Dan Greathouse as the next county commissioner.
Barnabei, 58, of Weirton, defeated Greathouse soundly by an unofficial vote of 1,657 to 1,147 in Tuesday's West Virginia primary election.
The results are unofficial partly because the canvass is on Monday and partly because of technical difficulties with a voting machine from precinct 22, County Clerk George Foley said.
Sixty-nine votes from precinct 22 were not included in Tuesday's unofficial tally. County election officials hope to have the problem fixed by the time of the canvass. The results will be certified 48 hours after the canvass.
Barnabei, an ArcelorMittal employee and a former Hancock County school board president, attributed the 60 percent margin of victory to "just being open and honest with the people I met (during the campaign). I told them what I stood for."
Barnabei will take office in January 2015, giving Greathouse another seven months in office.
"I've been very blessed to have been in office for 17 and a half years," Greathouse said. "I wish the best to Mr. Barnabei."
Greathouse, 62, of Weirton, was first elected in 1996 and was seeking his fourth six-year term on the Hancock County Commission, where he currently is president.
Greathouse said he was surprised by the loss but that he will move on. "Anybody who goes into an election, goes into it thinking they're going to win," he said.
"The people have spoken. That's fine," he said.
Barnabei, who served on the Hancock County school board from 1998 to 2008, said he looks forward to being in public office again and serving in a different capacity.
"I'm very happy," he said. "I'm humbled by the voters that actually went out and voted for me. I will be honored to be their representative and work for them."
Tuesday's primary election decided the commissioner's race because there were no Republican challengers. Barnabei and Greathouse are both Democrats.
The unofficial results in the commissioner's race represented 21 percent of the registered Democratic voters in Hancock County, according to the Hancock County Clerk's Office.
Come January, Barnabei will serve with Commissioners Jeff Davis and Mike Swartzmiller.