Christi Cox, Winkler win GOP York County Council nods

For the third straight election, western York County voters will send a new councilman to represent District 3 on the County Council.

Robert Winkler of York beat incumbent Joe Cox in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Winkler, a political newcomer, will face Democrat Steve Love in the Nov. 4 election.

“I’m beat,” Cox said Tuesday night while collecting campaign signs. “It’s time to put the signs in the barn. It will be a while before I run again.”

Across the county, Christi Cox, no relation to Joe, won the District 5 County Council seat by defeating challenger Marty Taylor by more than 1,200 votes. She got 2,007 votes, or 72.8 percent, to Taylor’s 747 votes. No Democrat has filed for the Nov. 4 election in District 5, meaning Cox will likely replace Curwood Chappell, who represented the district for 22 years. Chappell did not seek re-election.

Joe Cox blamed his loss on poor voter turnout, which was 9.7 percent countywide. He said he has worked hard for the residents of District 3 but “they can’t help you when it comes to elections. He (Winkler) won, they need to deal with what they’ve got.”

Winkler said the difference in the campaign may have come down to his emphasis on economic development. He is chairman of the economic development committee for the Greater York Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Western York County Alliance, which also has lobbied for economic development in the western part of the county.

“It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs,” Winkler said. “Our median income in the western part of the county is down and our unemployment rate is higher than other parts of the county.”

Winkler said he would take a few days off from campaigning and then start “going to every tractor show, every community event” to reach voters.

Joe Cox represented District 3 on the county council from 2007 to 2010, when he lost to Eric Winstead. He was re-elected in 2012.

York County Council members serve two-year terms.

Winkler received 919 votes, or 51.4 percent of the 1,786 votes cast in District 3. Cox got 867 votes or 48.5 percent.

Christi Cox said Wednesday replacing Chappell will not be an easy task. She said she plans to learn from the 22-year incumbent over the next months as he finishes his term. She also said she hopes he will continue to advise her.

"But I'm my own person. I have my own way of doing things," she said. "I have a different personality, different way of communicating and our skills and background are different."

Christi Cox said her priority will be to continue to learn more about the district that spans from Fort Mill to McConnells. She said she will be forming an advisory committee with a representation from each of the 19 district precincts. The purpose of the committee will be to help learn, but also to help residents in the district see the broader picture.

She also said she plans to use tools such as Facebook and emails to keep district residents informed.

At the top of her priority list is filling potholes and maintaining roads. That was the No. 1 issue she said she heard from district residents.

Taylor said he had “no regrets” about the race, adding his campaign “worked as hard as we could... I wouldn’t do anything differently.”

All four candidates campaigned on the need to improve York County’s roads and bridges.

For some voters, the candidates’ positions on environmental issues was important.

Ragin Craig, who supported Chappell for more than 20 years, said Christi Cox was easy to support because she has been working with District 5 residents for several years to fight out-of-state landfills from coming to York County.

“She jumps in and goes to work,” Craig said.

Tim Starnes said he supported Taylor because of his “green” lifestyle, which includes using biofuels and recycling. He also said he voted in the Republican primary to vote yes on the GOP question to protect the rights of the “born and pre-born persons.”