Livengood wins write-in duel for auditor

Handwritten votes made the results of the primary race for county auditor the last to be tallied Tuesday.

Washington County Board of Elections Member Jim Huggins said 1,832 votes were cast between the two Republican write-in candidates.

“These will be recounted in the morning, but we can be pretty certain of the outcome, even if the number shifts slightly if we find ballots,” said Huggins late Tuesday night.

The winner, Matthew Livengood, 48, of Marietta, received 1,400 votes, 76.42 percent of the total cast.

Livengood said Tuesday that he understood the length it took to tally the votes.

“They had to count each individual name that was written out,” he noted.

But early on Livengood took the lead with the absentee ballots, having 368 of the 471 cast. The rest of the votes weren’t reported until the end of the evening.

He said he’s already looking ahead to the coming race against Belpre City Auditor Leslie Pittenger, 60, of Belpre, during the General Election in November. Pittenger filed to run as an Independent candidate. The winner will replace longtime auditor Bill McFarland, who is retiring.

“I think the largest difference between city and county positions is the real estate portion of the job with the property valuations,” said Livengood, who currently serves as chief deputy in the county auditor’s office. “And that’s been my primary focus for the last five years as I’ve worked in the office.”

Livengood’s wife, Nicole, said she was thankful for the Republican support in her husband.

“We’re feeling great. I’m thankful to the voters of Washington County for all of the financial support, the signs and getting out to the polls to write in Matthew’s name,” she said. “We’re thankful to Mr. (Daniel) Everson for running a clean campaign and we’re also very thankful for Mr. (Bill) McFarland’s support.”

Livengood beat Daniel Everson, 37, of Marietta, who received 432 votes, 23.58 percent of the total cast.

Everson said Tuesday night that he wishes Livengood good luck and that he was proud of the campaign he ran.

“Between myself, my wife and my father going out door to door and meeting people one on one, we earned all our write-in votes the old-fashioned way,” he said in an emailed statement. “I was obviously hoping for a different result, but I’m content in knowing that our vote tally reflected the energy of three people working on the ground to create word of mouth without political endorsements rather than a traditional campaign with establishment support, third-party fundraising and mainstream political advertising.”

McFarland said he was pleased to stand behind his chief deputy and hopes to pass on the responsibility of the county finances following Livengood’s face-off with Pittenger this November.

“I am the treasurer of Matthew’s campaign and the answer to why is very simple,” noted McFarland. “He is the best candidate for the job, qualified by the time he has spent and will spend in the office prior to taking on the role. The experience he has cannot be matched. I have worked at the municipal level and at the county level and while a part of the titles are the same the duties also vary and there’s more responsibility. I believe he has the actual experience needed to run the office.”

Pittenger said Tuesday that she is excited to officially begin running against Livengood.

“The (Republican) party was really behind him, rooting for him,” she said. “Now I will be in parades, going to township meetings and events and making sure the people of Marietta, Beverly, Lowell and Waterford all know my name. I’m looking forward to meeting new people.”

Pittenger said she’s enthused by the options the residents of Washington County will have in the coming election.

“We’re practicing true democracy by giving the public options to choose who will oversee the fiscal responsibility of the county,” she said.

By the numbers

Votes cast for a write-in candidate for county auditor

≤ Votes cast for Matthew Livengood: 1,400, 76.42 percent.

≤ Votes cast for Daniel Everson: 432, 23.58 percent.

Source: Washington County Board of Elections.