Three races full of excitement

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 2004

While Ohio's 20 electoral votes garnered nationwide attention Tuesday night, three local races provided plenty of excitement here in Ironton.

The recorder, treasurer and clerk of courts races were sometimes too close to call throughout the night. Final results were not available until about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, but that did not diminish the respective sides from being excited by individual precinct returns.


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Republican Sharon Gossett Hager spent much of election night in the recorder's office, surrounded by her friends and supporters. The room was a sea of flag print scarves, much like the one she wore throughout the campaign.

In the end, she pulled ahead of her opponent, Democrat David Classing, to win the election by 14,165 to 11,323 votes. Hager was clearly tired, but happy with the result.

"Of course I'm excited about the victory," Hager said. "It's certainly sweeter when you have the victory."

Hager said she was appreciative of all the support she had received from voters and felt encouraged by their keeping her as recorder.

"I think it shows that people in Lawrence County want someone who is skilled and experienced," Hager said. "I look forward to the next four years and making sure that we continue the same great service."

Hager also had words of praise for her opponent.

"He ran a good race, but I'm just glad it's all behind us," she said.

After longtime County Recorder Sue Deeds decided to retire on Jan. 1, 2004, the Lawrence County Republican executive committee appointed Sharon Gossett Hager to serve as her replacement. She worked as a deputy recorder for 10 years under Deeds.

The Recorder's office is responsible for the recording and archiving of real estate documents. It is also accountable for other filings, including leases, powers of attorney, liens and military discharges.


Stephen Dale Burcham spent much of election night at the courthouse surrounded by friends and supporters. In the race for treasurer, he finished above his opponent Rod Depriest by 14,437 to 11,558 votes.

Both were newcomers to public office, but Burcham said the experience was a rewarding one-even down to the wire.

"It was an exciting evening," Burcham said. "I am very thankful to my wife who supported me in all this Š and I am thankful to everybody that helped me in the campaign, anyone who made a phone call or put a yard sign up."

Burcham also said he appreciated his opponent and the campaign they both ran.

"I would like to thank my opponent for running a very clean race," Burcham said. "We agreed to do that at the beginningŠand we were both men of our word."

Burcham is a certified public accountant. In addition, he said he has done private investment consultations. His father is retired clerk of courts Dale Burcham.

"I'm looking forward to serving the people and continue the level of service my dad had in the Clerk's (of Courts) office," Burcham said. "I pledge to make the (treasurer's) office people-friendly and service-oriented."

Depriest is currently the vice president of National City Bank with 29 years experience in the financial sector. Both he and Burcham are life long residents of Lawrence County.

Clerk of Courts

Perhaps the most heated race of the evening was clerk of courts.

For most of the night, current clerk Bob Blankenship had a slight lead. But in the end, his Republican opponent Les Boggs pulled ahead to win by 13,224 to 12,734 votes.

Neither candidate was available for comment at the end of election returns at 1 a.m. Wednesday. But the night was an emotional coaster ride for the two and their supporters.

After every precinct reported, Blankenship's supporters would let out a celebratory yell. But the last few results silenced the excitement for the Blankenship campaign.

After long-time clerk of courts Dale Burcham retired in early 2004, the Lawrence County Commissioners appointed Bob Blankenship to temporarily take his place.

Blankenship worked as a bailiff in the Common Pleas Court under Judge Frank McCown for several years prior to his appointment as clerk.

Boggs currently serves as president of the Dawson-Bryant Board of Education and is the owner of Accent Health Care in Coal Grove.

The clerk of courts is responsible for the filing of records of divorces, criminal cases and lawsuits. The office finalizes all actions that take place in the common pleas and municipal courts, including guilty pleas, arraignments and jail bonds.