PRINCETON — Four candidates were competing for votes Tuesday in Mercer County for three seats in the West Virginia Legislature’s House District 27 race.
The following candidates were on the ballot: Doug Smith, Republican; Marty Gearheart, Republican; and Joe C. Ellington Jr., Republican. Tina Russell was the lone Democratic candidate.
With all 47 of Mercer County’s precincts reporting, unofficial results tabulated Tuesday evening at the Mercer County Courthouse showed Doug Smith with 12,596 votes; Marty Gearheart with 12,549 votes; Joe C. Ellington Jr. with 12,082 votes; and Tina Russell with 7,472 votes. There were 70 write-in votes.
Doug Smith of Princeton is a native of Kansas and has been a state resident for 16 years. His wife is from Matoaka and he retired from military duty in 2018 after serving for over 34 years.
Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Wichita State University, and two master’s degrees: an MPA in Criminal Justice from City University, Bellevue, WA, and an MSS in Strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA. Smith has served around the world including deployments to Guantanamo Bay Cuba right after 9-11 and Iraq in 2004.
Marty Gearheart, a Bluefield businessman, served as a delegate from 2010 to 2018, when he ran for the GOP nomination in the 3rd Congressional District (Rep. Carol Miller won that nomination).
A former middle school teacher, Gearheart received an undergraduate degree in Education from Concord College (later Concord University) in 1983.
Dr. Joe Ellington Jr., an incumbent. A graduate of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, he is an OB-GYN physician at Princeton Community Hospital. He was a delegate for the 24th House District from 2011 to 2013 and has held the 27th District seat since 2013. Ellington is chair of the House Education Committee.
Tina Russell has been a public school teacher in Mercer County for nearly five years. Before that, she spent 25 years as a social worker, and also facilitated addiction recovery group classes and other addiction recovery related case management programs. Russell has worked with children with special needs, and has assisted foster families in getting assistance to care for traumatized children that have been placed in their home due to neglect or abuse.
Russell said during her campaign that she has spent her life helping people.
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