Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Election Too Close to Call; Republican John Cook Holds Small Lead Over Democrat Ilryong Moon

By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A voting machine broke down last night as Fairfax County elections officials were tallying the results of a hotly contested special election to fill a vacant seat on the board of supervisors, leaving the outcome too close to call.

Republican John Cook held on to a 69-vote lead over Democrat Ilryong Moon with 24 of the district's 25 precincts reporting and about 12,000 votes cast. The outcome boiled down to the votes from the Fairview precinct in Fairfax Station, where elections officials encountered technical problems with one of the two voting machines.

Elections officials halted their efforts, sealed the malfunctioning machine and said they would resume their efforts to count the remaining ballots today.

Both men, along with independent candidate Carey C. Campbell, were vying to succeed Sharon Bulova, who represented the Braddock district for 21 years and was elected chairman of the board last month.

The precinct where the outcome remained unresolved voted 57 percent for Bulova in the recent race for the chairman's seat and supported President Obama with about 57 percent of the vote. Officials from both parties said the board of supervisors outcome may warrant a recount.

"I would have preferred to know the results tonight, but we just have to wait and see," Cook said. "I think it's going to be close, but I'd rather be in our position than his position."

Moon said he, too, is optimistic about his chances because of the precinct's Democratic tilt. "It's unfortunate we had a problem with the computer because we were expecting a victory," he said. "We just have to wait until they are finished."

Anthony Bedell, chairman of the county Republican committee, said that, regardless of the outcome, the unofficial results show Republicans "are viable and very competitive in Fairfax County."

Scott Surovell, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, said he was "disappointed it wasn't more decisive, however the Braddock supervisor seat is probably the third-most-Republican seat in the county. It's a place where we have to fight for every vote, and in special elections it can be unpredictable as well."

A victory for Cook would bolster Republicans seeking to reverse the Democratic tide in Northern Virginia. A win for Moon would make him the board's first Asian American member. Campbell was a distant third in the race yesterday.

Moon, 51, is an at-large member of the School Board. He has energized education advocates, as well as fellow Korean Americans and other immigrants eager to see him become the first Asian American on the county board. About one in four Fairfax County residents is foreign-born, and about 16 percent of the county is Asian, but no immigrants serve on the board.

Cook, 45, drew strong support from people familiar with his work as president of the Kings Park Civic Association. He is credited with increasing membership of the association, which represents about 1,100 households, and launching a successful community revitalization effort.

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