McCrabb: Election 2023 proves upsets aren’t limited to sporting events

Top Middletown school board candidate vote-getter: ‘I’m as shocked as you are.’

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

MIDDLETOWN — In the National Football League, every time there’s an upset, the phase “On any given Sunday” is uttered.

The same could be said about the recent races for Middletown city council and school board. Just change Sunday to Tuesday.

How else can you explain what happened on Nov. 7 at the ballot box?

Consider that Middletown voters supported one City Council candidate who was soundly defeated two years ago, and the top vote-getter for school board was a little known candidate who didn’t attend any of the three candidate forums and was armed with limited campaign finances.

Of the six council candidates on the ballot, Steve West II received the most votes with 3,791, followed by Jennifer Burg-Carter (3,733), Clayton Castle (2,851), John Ferrando (2,845), Jeffrey Wellbaum (2,384) and write-in Kristi Asbury (209).



Just two years ago, Burg-Carter was a distant fourth in a five-person race for the two seats on council. Rodney Muterspaw (3,394) and Zack Ferrell (2,248) were elected, followed by Joe Mulligan (1,982), Burg-Carter (1,032) and Julia Lewis-Smith (818).

That means in two years, Burg-Carter went from receiving 11% of the votes to 23%.

Burg-Carter said she decided to seek a council seat while serving as an ambassador with Middletown Connect, a group of concerned citizens. After riding a bus with others throughout certain tracts in the city, she learned “there are a lot of things that we need to work on together.”

Some have said Burg-Carter, like other female state-wide candidates, benefited from Issue 1 since it attracted more female voters. She also was highly supported in the Black community where she’s extremely visible, people have said.

Using that same logic, the school board race makes even less sense.

Verlena Stewart, a Black female who was filing the unexpired term after Michelle Novak resigned, finished fourth in the five-person race for the three openings on school board. Stewart is well known in the Middletown community because of her extensive volunteerism and her work as executive director of Community Building Institute at the Robert “Sonny” Hill Jr. Community Center.

Holly Snow, who spent an unknown amount on her campaign, according to her pre-general financial reports, was the top-vote getter, beating the school board president and vice president.

“I’m as shocked as you are,” Snow said last week when asked about receiving the most votes against more recognizable candidates. “It threw me for a loop.”

She either couldn’t attend or didn’t know about the three candidate forums, she said. Her entire campaign included 50 yards signs because that’s all she bought and Facebook posts.

Snow, a mother of seven children, all students in the Middletown district, received 4,470 votes, followed by board Vice President Anita Scheibert (4,256), board President Chris Urso (4,319), Stewart (4,020) and Charles Cokeley (2,818).

Snow said she will be a school board member who’s “100 transparent.”

She plans to do more than sit behind the table at the twice-a-month meetings, she promised.

“I want to be active,” she said.

That means she may show up to meetings wearing casual clothes.

“I’m a mom first,” she said. “I’m just another mom, another parent.”

About the Author