West Virginia's northernmost voters chose to send both their representatives in the House of Delegates back to Charleston, electing incumbents Randy Swartzmiller and Ronnie Jones to additional two-year terms representing the 1st District.
With their victories Tuesday, Swartzmiller earned a seventh consecutive term, while freshman delegate Jones - also a Weirton city councilman - earned a second. Both are Democrats.
Swartzmiller and Jones fought off challenges from Weirton Republicans Carl Thompson, a 43-year-old truck driver and former steelworker, and Justin Bull, a 29-year-old firefighter and paramedic. Both have sought elected office unsuccessfully in the past - Thompson in 1998 ran for Brooke County Commission, while Bull made a bid for a seat on Weirton City Council last year.
Swartzmiller led the slate of candidates by a wide margin with 8,987 votes, followed by Jones's 7,073, Thompson's 5,085 and Bull's 3,617.
Both victors thanked voters for giving them another chance to represent them.
Swartzmiller, 52, first won election as a delegate in 2000. He lives in Chester and is employed in the petroleum industry. He touts the Legislature's current agenda of fiscal responsibility, and remains an outspoken advocate for freeing up vacant property belonging to businesses that have downsized or left the area for redevelopment.
Swartzmiller said West Virginia is "on the right track" and legislators must remain focused on maintaining a sound budget and trying to continue to lower taxes. He said he will continue to work with everyone in state government to make that happen.
"I've never thrown out an idea just because it belongs to someone else or the opposite party," he said.
Jones, 58, was elected to his first term in an extraordinarly tight contest, with a margin of victory of only about 40 votes. He didn't know for sure he'd won until the official vote canvass a week after election night, and said Tuesday he didn't mind doing without the suspense this time around.
Jones said he and Swartzmiller "work well together." He said the biggest issue facing the area continues to be jobs.
"We can't create jobs ... but we can try to make sure the infrastructure's in place so we can bring more business in," said Jones.