Powhatan County residents participated in the longstanding tradition of voting for William E. Maxey Jr. last week, giving the 86-year-old his seventh consecutive eight-year term as clerk of the court.
Victory, however, doesn't necessarily sunny one's disposition. "You sound surprised," Maxey scoffs at a Style Weekly reporter, declining a postelection interview. "Write any damn thing you want."
Maxey faced two challengers, the first time he's had opposition since 1983. He stomped the competition 24 years ago, but it was a squeaker this time around. Maxey edged his nearest opponent, Beth Featherston Jones, by just 158 votes.
"I'm disappointed that I lost, but I'm not disappointed in the effort," Jones says. "I went door-to-door knocking at least 2,500 homes. I got bit by a dog, put my hand on wet paint on somebody's railing and met a lot of nice people. So I had a lot of fun doing it and I don't have any regrets."
In her campaign, Jones promised to modernize the office by digitizing paper records dating back to the 18th century.
Maxey received 49 percent of the vote, or 3,117 votes; Jones was second with 46 percent, or 2,959 votes; David Lawhon netted 5 percent, or 310 votes. Powhatan has 27,000 residents.
The news comes as a relief, perhaps, to Powhatan Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Beasley Jr., who reminisced in an earlier interview about Maxey's longstanding stewardship of the courthouse.
"On court days Mr. Maxey's wife usually fixes goodies -- cookies, brownies," he told Style in August. "It really does kind of give it that homey feel, and that's something you don't get in the John Marshall Courts, I tell ya."