Challenger Annie Cupka won every precinct in King George County to unseat incumbent Ruby Brabo in the race for at-large supervisor.
Cupka garnered 60 percent of the votes to defeat Brabo, who has served on the board for eight years, first representing Dahlgren District, then as at-large supervisor. Cupka received 4,634 votes to Brabo’s 3,040 votes.
“It was overwhelming to see the community’s response, and I’m just proud of the community for engaging and starting to appreciate the issues and the problems we have and the road ahead,” she said.
Cupka, 46, focused on community, emphasizing her decade of service as a schoolteacher, volunteer and grants specialist for the county. She also worked as a legal assistant and police officer before moving to King George 14 years ago and has campaigned about the need to “work together to keep” the community the way it is.
In the only other contested race in the county, Capt. Chris Giles, 56, overcame T.C. Collins to become King George’s new sheriff. Giles focused on his 27 years of experience with day-to-day operations of the King George Sheriff’s Office, and said his ability to do the job was the biggest factor in the race.
Voters seemingly agreed, as Giles received 67 percent of the vote to defeat Collins, an experienced agent with the Virginia State Police and member of the King George School Board. Giles got 5,312 votes while Collins received 2,660 votes.
“It was completely a surprise and so overwhelming,” Giles said from Hopyard Club, where about 75 people gathered for the results, “but such satisfaction, not just for me but the county as a whole.”
A key aspect of the at-large supervisor race may have been accusations of campaign finance violations against Brabo that surfaced three weeks before the election. Electronic communication showed Brabo seeking $99 donations from a local developer and asking for the contributions to be submitted under different names.
Brabo contended all candidates are aware that donations of $100 or more must be declared on finance reports, and some seek a smaller amount to avoid that declaration. However, Commonwealth’s Attorney Keri Gusmann said a week before the election that there was enough probable cause against Brabo to warrant “a criminal investigation and potential prosecution” but that the statute of limitations had expired.
Cupka said she believes King George is at a crossroads and faces a lot of challenges in terms of development and increased traffic from the expanded bridge into Maryland. She’s glad to see more people engaged, both in voting and in attending recent public hearings about matters facing the county.
“I feel like we brought in some of the newer people who have come to the county as well as some of the people who have been here for a while,” she said. “It’s important to have both.”