Laura Smith wins IW clerk of court race

Published 12:09 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Laura Smith won the contested race to become Isle of Wight County’s next clerk of circuit court.

According to unofficial election results, Smith had received 71.5% of more than 14,000 votes to challenger Elisabeth Culpepper’s 28.5%.

The total includes election day votes, early voting and absentee ballots but not provisional ballots.

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Smith currently serves as chief deputy to retiring clerk Kathleen Torrence, while Culpepper is a public defender.

“I would like to thank all the wonderful citizens of Isle of Wight County for coming out to vote at early voting and on election day; every vote matters and I am truly grateful for the tremendous amount of support I have received throughout this campaign,” Smith said. “As the clerk of court-elect, you have my 100% commitment to continue serving the great citizens of IW county respectfully and flawlessly.”

“I am appreciative of the support from friends and family during this campaign and to those that voted for me,” Culpepper said in an emailed statement. “I had a vision for a Clerk’s office led by someone that was legally trained, overseeing a team of certified clerks, delievering (sic) first-class services. I am glad a portion of the electorate shared in that vision even if our campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.” 

Clerks of circuit court are elected to eight-year terms. Torrence, since 2020, has filled the remaining three years of her predecessor Sharon Jones’ term, making this year the first full term on the ballot since 2015.

Campaign finance reports filed by each candidate ahead of the election showed a high interest in the race, with Smith raising just over $23,000 and Culpepper raising just over $16,650 as of Oct. 26. Both totals are above what Torrence or her then-opponent Jamie Mumford had raised when the race was last contested in 2020.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:16 p.m. on Nov. 8 with the latest vote totals.