Henderson defeats Atkinson in GOP primary for nomination in Virginia Beach city treasurer’s race

Leigh Henderson, left, is congratulated by Ann Tynes of Great Neck during a victory gathering on Tuesday, June 11. Henderson defeated Clay Atkinson in the GOP primary, and she is now the party nominee in the November special election for Virginia Beach city treasurer. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

GREAT NECK — Leigh Henderson, who was sworn in as city treasurer in late December following the resignation of John T. Atkinson, is now the Republican nominee for that office after besting Atkinson’s son during a primary on Tuesday, June 11.

Henderson defeated John C. “Clay” Atkinson with about 62 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns. Henderson, a 40-year-old Pungo resident, now faces two other candidates in the November special election. They are Laura Habr, a Democrat, and Ralph Parham, running as an independent, according to the Virginia Beach Department of Voter Registration & Elections.

Henderson said she was thankful for the support by voters in a contest that had a wrinkle – the similarity of Clay Atkinson’s name to that of his father, who served as treasurer for four decades.

“It’s amazing,” Henderson said during a victory party at La Herradura Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in the Great Neck area. “I’ve been on pins and needles all day because Clay had that name recognition from his dad.”

She said it was awkward to have run against Clay Atkinson, but, with the primary behind her, she’s now looking forward to preparing for the special election.

“I’m so excited to continue to serve the office,” Henderson said. “It’s in my heart. It’s in my blood.”

Henderson started in the city treasurer’s office as an accountant after graduating from Old Dominion University about 18 years ago and worked her way up to chief deputy treasurer.

“It was my first job out of college,” she said.

Reached by telephone late Tuesday, June 11, Clay Atkinson said he was disappointed by the outcome, but he congratulated his opponent and credited her for running a “solid” campaign.

“I wish her the best of luck in November,” said Atkinson, a real estate broker and chief financial officer at Atkinson Realty, Inc. ”I’m a member of the Republican Party, and she’ll have my support in November.”

© 2019 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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