GOP primary for Grafton County commissioner decided after lengthy wait

  • Glenn Libby (Courtesy photograph)

  • Matthew Bjelobrk (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/23/2022 10:35:55 PM
Modified: 9/23/2022 10:35:21 PM

HAVERHILL — Nearly a week after the primaries, Republican candidate Glenn Libby, of Haverhill, was officially declared the winner of the Republican primary election for Grafton County Commissioner in District 2, defeating former Haverhill Selectboard member Matthew Bjelobrk by a vote of 1,768-716.

Libby, a retired corrections officer and the former Grafton County superintendent of corrections, received over 70% of the total votes and won the majority of votes in all 19 precincts of District 2.

“I am very humbled and appreciative of the support that I received in the primary and look forward to the general election,” Libby told the Valley News this week.

Despite Libby maintaining a sizable lead throughout the reporting of precincts, it took until last Monday, six days after the New Hampshire primaries, before the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office confirmed that all the ballots in Grafton County’s District 2 had been counted. As of Sept. 16, at 5 p.m., only 50% of the Grafton District 2 precincts had reported their results to the state, though Libby at that time had 75% of the votes, according to

New Hampshire Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said last week that the tabulation of results in some precincts was slowed by an organized effort to force a hand count of ballots, according to a report by New Hampshire Public Radio. According to Scanlan, groups opposed to voting machines encouraged many voters to write in the names of the candidates they support, rather than marking the box by the candidate’s name, to force election officials to count the ballots by hand.

It is unknown whether these hand counts impacted the recording of votes in Grafton County. Scanlan said the forced hand counts mostly occurred at larger polling places in communities such as Londonderry, Windham and Merrimack.

Bjelobrk, Libby’s opponent, said he was not surprised by the results, given Libby’s name recognition and popularity in Grafton County, as well as Bjelobrk’s lack of campaign advertising.

“People should do their own research on the candidates,” Bjelobrk told the Valley News, saying that voters could have learned about Bjelobrk’s performance while serving on the town Selectboard, for example, without the need for campaign advertisements like signs or flyers.

Bjelobrk said he filed as a candidate on the last filing day over his concerns that Libby would otherwise run on the primary ballot unopposed.

In addition to his belief that “no one should run unopposed” in an election, Bjelobrk indicated he is still concerned about Libby being married to Grafton County Administrator Julie Libby, as the county administrator is the county commission’s direct employee.

In a previous interview with the Valley News, Bjelobrk noted that multiple family members of Julie Libby are county employees, including Julie Libby’s sister, Karen Clough, who is the county’s human resources director. Bjelobrk said he worried about Glenn and Julie Libby avoiding work-related discussions outside of public meetings, potentially causing a conflict of interest.

“It was something that I was troubled by and I wanted to bring to light,” Bjelobrk said. “But the people have spoken.”

Prior to the New Hampshire primary, Libby told the Valley News that he would recuse himself from any vote that might create a conflict of interest involving his wife. In addition, Libby noted that one commissioner alone cannot take action, as all decisions require a majority vote of at least two commissioners.

Libby was also defended by Grafton County Commissioner Chairwoman Linda Lauer, D-Bath, N.H., who told the Valley News that Glenn and Julie Libby are both “people of integrity.”

Lauer also said, in a statement published on Facebook, that she believes Glenn Libby’s marriage would not affect his ability to act as a county commissioner.

“Would the individual in question have to abstain from a few votes?” Lauer wrote. “Yes. The annual performance review comes to mind, (though) I can’t think of anything else. …

“(But) all of the current commissions have, on occasion, abstained from a vote because of a conflict of interest. It happens.”

Lauer, county commissioner for District 2, said she is stepping down after nine years for “personal reasons” and to allow new candidates an opportunity to serve.

Libby will face Democratic Party candidate Martha Stroup McLeod, D-Franconia, in the general election on Nov. 8, for the District 2 commissioner seat.

McLeod, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, is a former state representative for District 2, who served from 2004-08. In 2008 she ran for state senator in District 1, where she won the Democratic primary but lost to Republican John Gallus, R-Berlin, in the general election.

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