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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Hodge joins council incumbents
Stroud, Turner return; Woods comes up short
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Above, Sharon Brooks Hodge (from left), Mark Stroud and Danny Turner discuss their election to the Martinsville City Council. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

City voters on Tuesday returned two incumbents to Martinsville City Council and elected a political newcomer to join them.

Three council seats were up for grabs. Incumbent Councilman Mark Stroud placed first with 3,119 votes. The other incumbent, Danny Turner, came in second with 2,985 votes. Both will serve their second four-year terms.

Political newcomer Sharon Brooks Hodge came in third with 2,769 votes and will join the incumbents in January. She is the first black woman to be elected to the council and will fill the seat being vacated by Kimble Reynolds Jr., who did not seek re-election.

Jim Woods, another political newcomer, came in fourth with 2,643 votes.

Jay Engstrom, who dropped out of the council race after his name had been printed on the ballot, received 500 votes — although precinct workers reminded voters he no longer was in the race.

The election results will not be official until after the Martinsville Electoral Board conducts a canvass at 9 a.m. today.

Being elected is “very humbling,” Hodge said, adding she is excited about “the number of people who showed confidence in me” by voting for her.

Hodge said she wants to represent the interests of all city residents but “I was asked to run (for the council) to be a voice for people who feel they are not being heard (on city issues), and I promise to be their voice.”

For example, she said she has heard concerns from some residents that the work force in city government “doesn’t reflect the population” of Martinsville. She said she aims to ask candidates for city manager their feelings about the need for diversity among government employees.

Mayor Kim Adkins recently said that anyone new elected to the council will be allowed to participate in the city manager hiring process.

As executive director of the Ohio-based Black Family Preservation Group Inc., Hodge frequently has worked out of town. She emphasized that she is rearranging her job duties and commitments so she is able to spend more time in the area and will be able to attend most council meetings.

Stroud said he was “very proud and humbled” to be re-elected.

“I certainly would have been thrilled to finish in third place, but I certainly am thrilled to death to finish first,” he said Tuesday night after the election returns were in.

Stroud said he campaigned as hard as possible but a family member’s illness kept him from going door-to-door as much as he would have liked.

“I never stopped campaigning after I was elected in 2008,” Stroud said. “I think people have a degree of satisfaction with my service to them.”

He added that he looks forward to the continued development of the New College Institute. He also said that a new medical school planned in uptown Martinsville should bode well for the city.

Turner said he looks forward to working with Stroud and Hodge to make Martinsville the best place it can be.

“I’m absolutely excited about Martinsville’s future. We’re on the right path,” he said, noting that more and more people seem to be voicing their opinions on community issues and getting involved in decision-making.

Being an incumbent “gave me some advantages, I guess,” to being elected again, Turner surmised.

He said that in his second term, he wants to continue discussions about electricity matters and the planned development of the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre with Henry County.

Stroud is a retired master deputy with the Martinsville Sheriff’s Office. Turner is a retired driver for United Parcel Service. Woods manages the Martinsville branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library.

Although he finished fourth and was not elected, Woods said he is “ecstatic that so many folks in Martinsville supported me” on his first bid for a council seat. He said he “more than likely” will run again in the future.

Running for the council “has been a great learning experience,” Woods said. As to whether a candidate will be elected, he said “you never know until you throw your hat into the ring,” so to speak.

He said that while he visited each city polling place on Tuesday, if he runs for the council again, he will need to “develop my ground game a bit more,” such as by doing more door-to-door campaigning.

According to the unofficial election results, Stroud was the top vote-getter in the Martinsville Middle School, Virginia Museum of Natural History and city schools administrative office (Druid Hills) precincts. In the latter precinct, he edged out Turner for the top spot by one vote.

Turner received the most votes in the central absentee precinct. Hodge was the top vote-getter in the city housing office (west side), Martinsville High School and Albert Harris Elementary School precincts.

Martinsville voter turnout had not yet been determined late Tuesday night due to issues involved in counting the number of ballots cast in the middle and high school precincts, said city Circuit Court Clerk Ashby Pritchett.


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