By Bill Robinson
The four-person Richmond City Commission will have two new faces in January as challengers Laura Durham Morgan and Jim Newby came in first and fourth, respectively, in Tuesday eight-person race.
Morgan, the daughter and granddaughter of past Richmond mayors, finished first in Tuesday’s general election, just as she did in the May primary. Morgan owns and operates a gasoline station/convenience store at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road.
She got 4,166 votes, 231 more than incumbent Robert Blythe, who finished second with 3,935 votes. Blythe, a pastor and retired college teacher, will return for his sixth two-year term.
Donna Baird, a retired bank employee, won her second term on the city’s governing body.
Blythe and Baird also finished second and third, respectively, in the primary.
Jim Newby, a Richmond firefighter, will have to give up his city job to serve on the commission. In his campaign, Newby capitalized on the discontent of city employees who felt they bore the brunt of the austerity measures imposed to balance the city’s books the past two years.
Newby finished eight in the primary, but came on strong in the general election to win his first political office.
Two first-time members, Jason Morgan and Richard Thomas, failed to win re-election.
Jason Morgan, a nursing home administrator, come in fifth, 190 votes behind Newby at 3,195.
Thomas, a retired hospital administrator, finished eight with 2,506.
Jason Morgan and Thomas had placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the primary.
Between Jason Morgan and Thomas were Bobby Johns, a Realtor and retired LexMark employee, who was sixth with 3,008 and Don Jaynes, a Richmond accountant who had been a citizen member of the city’s financial advisory committee. Jaynes, who finished fourth in the primary, received 2,823 votes in the runoff. Johns had been seventh in the primary.
The election may alter the balance of power on the commission. Although the commission generally voted unanimously, Baird and Thomas almost always voted with Mayor Jim Barnes.
On a few occasions, Jason Morgan and Blythe voted in opposition, as they did when the commission voted 3-2 to tighten the vacation and sick-leave policy for city employees. Among other restrictions, the new policy requires employees to use or lose all of their annual vacation instead of accumulating it until they retired.
How they finished
Laura Morgan -- 4,166
Blythe -- 3,935
Baird -- 3,706
Newby -- 3,385
Jason Morgan --3,195
Johns -- 3,008
Jaynes –- 2,823
Thomas -- 2,506