RADFORD — Jody Ray won a seat on the city’s school board after four provisional ballots were added to the total count Wednesday afternoon.
Ray, who finished second to Jenny Riffe, was only three votes ahead of third place finisher Chris Calfee as of Tuesday night in the race for two seats.
After the provisionals were included, Ray finished ahead of Calfee by six votes, according to the state Board of Elections website.
Tracy Howard, the city’s registrar, wrote on his office’s Facebook page that how those ballots are processed kept the race from being called Tuesday night.
“The Provisional Ballots are accepted at the precinct, but not checked in or actually counted. In this case the 4 voters had absentee ballots issued by the office, but chose to vote in person at the precinct. Since they did not have the original ballot to exchange the mailed ballot for a flat ballot (as per process) they voted provisionally until it could be shown that their first ballot was not counted in the Absentee precinct,” he wrote.
Ray, who ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2018, said of Calfee:
“Chris is a class act. He is a friend, and if it would’ve been reversed ... I would be congratulating him today.”
Ray said the support of his wife and kids, who were at various polling places throughout the day, was an integral part of his election.
“It was a pretty big deal honestly. ... We had kids at all the polls helping me, and I think that’s what honestly helped push me over the edge,” he said.
Despite narrowly missing a seat on the board, Calfee said Ray is “the right person” for the seat at this time.
“I said all along if we could not get both seats I wanted him to have the one we could win. My turn will come when the time is right,” he wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.
Calfee said he and Ray — along with winners of Tuesday’s city council election Onassis Burress and Forrest Hite — started the campaign “with a genuine desire as four people wanting to serve the community.”
“We are a team who wanted to make sure Radford won! So when you are on a team it’s not about an individual player. I was and am very happy that our team represented well, and we took 3 of the 4 seats in this election,” he wrote.
Hite, who lost to Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg, in the 12th District House of Delegates race last year, said he’s happy for his friends and about his own victory.
“I’m pretty excited. It’s still a bit surreal right now,” he said.
Howard said that while the election was close, it wasn’t the closest he’s witnessed.
In 2004, Radford Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Rehak won his first term by a single vote over local attorney Patrick Moore. More than 5,200 votes were cast in the race, according to Virginia’s elections website.
“That was an interesting election. There were a few other close races if I remember correctly,” he said Wednesday afternoon.
The newly elected officials will be sworn in July 1 and serve four-year terms.