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Although some Fairfax County voters headed to the polls with change in mind, incumbents ended up being the big winners in Tuesday’s state and local elections.

All of the incumbents seeking re-election in Fairfax kept onto their seats, including Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D), who easily won another four-year term.

Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) was the only supervisor facing a close race. He defeated Democratic challenger Janet Oleszek 12,489 to 12,117, according to unofficial election results.

There will be changes at the state level, however, as Republicans picked up the minimum two seats needed to take control of the Senate, as well as gaining seven seats in the House of Delegates.

Pending a potential recount in Senate District 17, where Republican challenger Bryce Reeves has an 86-vote lead on incumbent Sen. Ed Houck (D), the Senate will be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) will be the deciding vote in the event of a tie.

This means “the governor’s agenda will move forward,” said Toni-Michelle Travis, an associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University.

In Northern Virginia, however, the Democratic incumbents whose districts are partially in Fairfax County fended off Republican challengers, including those who were expected to face the strongest challenges, Sens. George Barker, Dave Marsden, Toddy Puller and Mark Herring.

“People are not in the mood for radical change,” said John Fund, a senior editor at American Spectator, reflecting on off-year election trends from around the country.

Democratic wins in two open seats — Senate District 31, where Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola won against Republican Caren Merrick, and District 30, where Democratic Del. Adam Ebbin also easily won — also helped keep the Republicans from gaining more ground.

Having a Democratic Senate in control of its own redistricting likely helped limit the damage, Fund said.

“Even though there was a Republican tide in Virginia, they were able to limit their losses to one or possibly two seats,” he said.

Virginia fell in line with the handful of other states that had elections this year in re-electing many incumbents, said Geoff Pallay, special projects director for the website Ballotpedia. Nationwide, more than 96 percent of incumbents were re-elected. Virginia led the way on that as a state that tends to be “hostile” to electoral challengers, he said.

Travis said the good showing for incumbents in Fairfax County suggests people are relatively content with their government.

“I think that the Northern Virginia voters who returned incumbents generally think that those people are doing a decent job,” she said.

Those who lost could have been affected by redistricting, Travis said. For example, one of the Senate seats Republicans picked up pitted a Democrat and a Republican against one each other after their districts were combined in the redistricting process.

Turnout in Fairfax County was about 31 percent, down from about 33 percent in 2007 but comparatively better to other areas of the state. It was the bottom of the ticket, the Fairfax County School Board races, that drove many voters to the polls.

Marlene Severson of Great Falls said she has been a little disappointed in the public school system, which her children have attended for about eight years.

“I don’t think it is as good as it could be,” she said.

Other voters said they were concerned about accountability for spending on public schools.

The state races, particularly control of the Senate, drew the attention of other voters.

Al Short of Lorton was among the Fairfax voters hoping to see Republicans take control of the state Senate.

“I’m here to change things,” he said just after voting at South County Secondary School.

Short said he wants Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to have an easier time getting his legislation passed in the last two years of his term, “especially in the arena of energy and jobs.”

Others said they want to see more compromise in state government.

“I think that there is a need for balance,” said Mildred Hoskey of Alexandria. “There is a need for diplomacy.”

While the past several years have led to positive outcomes for Republicans in Virginia, political experts caution it is hard to draw conclusions about what that means for next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

“A presidential election is a very different animal,” Fund said.

Travis noted the amount of money involved and the get-out-the-vote efforts will be exponentially different next year. There also could be population changes, or issue changes, during the course of the next year, she said.

“I don’t think this is a harbinger of what voters will do in 2012,” she said.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com

2011 Elections Results by campaign

State Senate

District 30

Adam Ebbin (D): 21,701

Tim McGhee (R): 11,944

District 31

Barbara Favola (D): 24,363

Caren Merrick (R): 17,480

District 32

Janet Howell (D): 26,002

Patrick Forrest (R): 17,112

District 33

Mark Herring (D): 14,060

Patricia Phillips (R): 11,910

District 34

J. Chapman Peterson (D): 23,652

Gerarda Culipher (R): 15,940

District 35

Richard Saslaw (D): 15,645

Robert Sarvis (R): 9,081

Katherine Ann Pettigrew (IG): 583

District 36

Linda “Toddy” Puller (D): 15,558

Jeff Frederick (R): 12,531

District 37

Dave Marsden (D): 19,835

Jason Flanary (R): 17,030

District 39

George Barker (D): 21,093

Miller Baker (R): 18,679

House of Delegates

District 34

Barbara Comstock (R): 11,625

Pamela Danner (D): 9,571

District 35

Mark Keam (D): 9,660

District 36

Ken Plum (D): 9,519

Hugh “Mac” Cannon (R): 5,325

District 37

David Bulova (D): 6,660

Brian Schoeneman (R): 4,762

District 38

Kaye Kory (D): 8,103

Jim Leslie (IG): 2,402

District 39

Vivian Watts (D): 11,291

Dimitris Kolazas (I): 3,409

District 40

Tim Hugo (R): 11,564

Dianne Blais (I): 4,019

District 41

Eileen Filler-Corn (D): 11,957

Mike Kane (L): 5,508

District 42

David Albo (R): 11,826

Jack Dobbyn Jr. (D): 7,198

District 43

Mark Sickles (D): 10,175

District 44

Scott Surovell (D): 7,994

John Barsa (R): 5,523

Joe Glean (I): 211

District 45

David Englin (D): 11,549

District 48

Robert Brink (D): 11,487

Kathy Gillette-Mallard (I): 4,081

Janet Murphy (IG): 1,153

District 49

Alfonso Lopez (D): 7,103

District 53

Jim Scott (D): 8,230

District 67

Jim LeMunyon (R): 9,191

Eric Clingan (D): 6,305

District 86

Tom Rust (R): 9,215

Board of Supervisors

Chairman (At-Large)

Sharon Bulova (D): 113,819

Mike Williams (R): 68,067

Christopher DeCarlo (I): 6,718

Will Radle Jr. (I): 2,932

Braddock District

John Cook (R): 12,489

Janet Oleszek (D): 12,117

Carey Campbell (I): 723

Dranesville District

John Foust (D): 15,217

Dennis Husch (R): 9,857

Hunter Mill District

Catherine Hudgins (D): 18,145

Lee District

Jeff McKay (D): 14,405

Mason District

Penelope Gross (D): 10,397

David Feld (R): 5,475

Mount Vernon District

Gerald Hyland (D): 14,280

Gail Parker (I): 5,472

Providence District

Linda Smyth (D): 10,278

Chris Grisafe (R): 5,956

Springfield District

Pat Herrity (R): 22,169

Sully District

Michael Frey (R): 14,682

Shahid Malik (D): 6,131

School Board

At-Large (three seats)

Ilryong Moon: 91,588

Ryan McElveen: 86,268

Ted Velkoff: 84,411

Sheree Brown-Kaplan: 80,721

Lolita Mancheno-Smoak: 69,271

Lin-Dai Kendall: 62,539

Steve Stuban: 37,344

Braddock District

Megan McLaughlin:14,753

Nell Hurley: 9,831

Dranesville District

Jane Strauss: 13,122

Louise Epstein: 12,128

Hunter Mill District

Pat Hynes: 12,511

Nancy Linton: 9,432

Lee District

Tamara Derenak Kaufax: 13,936

Mason District

Sandy Evans: 12,963

Mount Vernon District

Daniel Storck: 12,308

Michele Nellenbach: 8,745

Providence District

Patty Reed: 11,422

Springfield District

Elizabeth Schultz: 15,807

John Wittman: 10,976

Sully District

Kathy Smith: 11,233

Sheila Ratnam: 9,338

Commonwealth’s Attorney

Raymond Morrogh (D): 150,513

Sheriff

Stan Barry (D): 102,378

Bill Cooper III (R): 85,670

Soil and Water Conservation Director, Northern Virginia District (three seats)

George Lamb: 98,033

John Peterson: 88,908

Johna Good Gagnon: 84,643

Thomas Cranmer: 79,796

Peter Marchetti: 32,525

School Bond

Yes: 131,424

No: 57,169

Source: Unofficial results from the Fairfax County Board of Elections