Matthew Epling wins county magistrate race

May 15—Of all the county magistrate races on the Raleigh County primary ballot on Tuesday, and there were a handful, a familiar name stood atop them all at day's end.

Matthew Epling, part of a well-known family that has contributed much to the Beckley community, won the four-candidate race in a newly created Division 6 with nearly half of the 12,734 votes cast. Meanwhile, his mother, Linda K. Epling, after whom a local baseball park is named, was winning a third term on the county commission.

Matthew Epling carried 6,132 votes to easily outdistance his competition with Terry Phillips placing second with 3,948 votes, Kennet Bradley with 1,911 votes and Xavier Oglesby with 735 votes.

And now the younger Epling has a job he says he has been interested in for a while.

"If the numbers stay nearly the same as they are," Epliing said as he awaited the last few precincts to report, "I will be elated. It's a blessing. It is something I've wanted to do.

"I am analytical by nature," Epling said. "And with the new seat created, I didn't have to run against a sitting judge or any of my friends. I didn't have to lose any friendships."

Epling also brings related experience to the job.

"I was a former sergeant in the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority with 21 years' experience in Virginia and West Virginia corrections," he told The Register-Herald in April. "I was an in-house magistrate or hearings officer at Southern Regional Jail as well as administering over the booking department where it was my role to read and execute court orders, calculate good time releases, oversee criminal arraignments and classify offenders' overall safety and security."

Epling believes that his strong conservative values will serve him well in his new job.

"Strengthening parental rights and being fair, firm and consistent is something Raleigh County deserves in the role of magistrate," he said.

Division 6 was one of four being contested. Other winners were Tim Deems in a crowded Division 3 race that drew seven candidates, incumbent Tomi Peck in Division 5 and John Humprey in a four-candidate race for Division 1.

Incumbents Paul Blume and Greg Tanner won reelection without competition in divisions 2 and 4 respectively.

The results in Division 1 were: John Humphrey, 4,006 votes; Gary Vaughan, 3,559 votes; Bernard Bostick, 3,398 votes; and Rachel Roush, 2,338 votes.

The results in Division 3 were: Tim Deems, 3,557 votes; Guy S. Holiday, 2,733 votes; Jeff McPeake, 2,581 votes; Stephanie French, 1,648 votes; Jodi Lovelace-Patrick, 1,627 votes; Loretta Stowers-Breedlove, 818 votes; and Dustin Potter, 356 votes.

The results in Division 5 were: Tomi S. Peck, 9,468 votes; and Calvin Alexander, 3,316 votes.

In other races related to the courts:

—Russell O. "Rusty" Wooton, the son of Justice William "Bill" Wooton of the state Supreme Court of Appeals, won a seat on the 14th Circuit Court, Division 2, by beating four other candidates. Wooton collected 4,042 votes and was followed by Michael E. Froble, 3,367 votes; Marie C. Bechtel, 2,441 votes; Matthew A. Bradford, 1,981 votes; and Daniel J. Burns, 1,853 votes.

—Todd Kirby won uncontested election to Division 3 of the 14th Circuit Court. Incumbent Andrew "Andy" Dimlich also did not draw a challenge and won reelection to the Division 3 seat in the 14th Circuit. Likewise, incumbent Darl Polling did not face competition and won reelection to Division 1 of the 14th Circuit.

—Incumbents H. Suzanne McGraw, Leigh Lefler and Eric Shuck won uncontested reelection as judges to Family Court.

—Brianne Steele, wife of Del. Brandon Steele, won election to the county circuit clerk job over James Paul Chapman, a 13-year worker in the office. Steele won with 4,777 votes to Chapman's 4,208.

—F. William "Bill" Harris won election as conservation district supervisor with 5,699 votes over Mark Harris with 5,342 votes. Edgar F. Hendrick Jr. won an uncontested race to finish an unexpired term, also as conservation district supervisor.