Monday, January 11, 2010

Virginia is for (election) lovers

Local political events warm winter’s chill

Virginians vote every year. Late last week, two Goochland citizens tossed their hats into the electoral ring for District 5 supervisor. The next election for that office is in November 2011.

Ken Peterson, a West Point graduate, former army officer and bond trader, announced on Thursday via an email sent to chairman of the Goochland Republican Committee, Ben Slone, that he planned to seek the GOP nomination for the position. Peterson said he would formally state his intentions at a special event on January 9.

Not to be outdone, Courtney Hyers, a retired attorney announced her intention to seek the GOP nomination at a meeting of the Goochland Republican Women on Friday, January 9.

Incumbent District 5 supervisor James T. Eads, who attended the GRW meeting, promptly endorsed Hyers. Although he did not specifically announce his intention to retire at the end of his current term, Eads’ endorsement seems to be a de facto indication that he will not seek reelection.

Hyers has represented District 5 on the county planning commission since 2006.

She is a graduate of Randolph Macon Women’s College and the University of Florida College of Law. During a three decade career with CSX Corporation Hyers served as Senior Tax Counsel, which included responsibility for tax legislative matters.

She and her husband have lived in Goochland for 20 years and she served as president of the Lower Tuckahoe Homeowners’ Association.

Hers said that she believes citizens must fight to preserve Goochland’s rural character. She rejects then notion that Goochland must look like Chesterfield and Henrico. She is committed to an efficient high quality school system as well as supporting law enforcement and fire-rescue volunteers.

She commended the board of supervisors for taking the initiative to identify and correct recently discovered deficiencies in the county’s public utilities department.

She praised James Eads, current District 5 supervisor, for introducing sound business practices to county government including careful and controlled growth and pledged to continue his work.

Of major concern, said Hyers is the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, which was conceived to provide opportunities for high quality economic development, which she supports.

She supports low taxes and believes that government, like families and businesses, must adjust its expenditures to deal with revenue shortfalls.

Eads endorsed her.

“Beginning with the utility billing problems we discovered last year and weaknesses in our administration we know we have to restructure our county government with skilled professionals,” said Eads.

This was great political theater following the long tradition of notables like former President Bill Clinton who overlook past events.

It was quite curious that Eads took credit for uncovering the discrepancies in the utility department and seemed surprised to learn that county administration was at the least, inept.

One of the reasons that Eads was ”hired” by his constituents in 1999 was to remove the former county administrator. In comments made before the 2007 election, Eads praised that very person. About a year ago, during an open meeting of the board of supervisors, Eads voted against a motion to essentially fire that person, who was permitted to retire.

Peterson is new to county politics.

He announced at a event at the Manakin Fire-Rescue station on Saturday, January 9.

He was introduced by Bob Marcellus who is president of The Richmond Group Fund and a member of the economic work group committee of the transition team of governor-elect Bob McDonnell. Marcellus cited Peterson’s MBA from Northwestern University and experience as a Wall Street bond trader as prime credentials for elected office in the county.

Peterson, a former paratrooper, has been treasurer of River Road Methodist Church and the Meadows Homeowners Association. Marcellus said that Peterson has provided valuable input to the “business of the state of Virginia.”

He has lived in Goochland since 2006 arriving here after an exhaustive search for the best place to live in America.

“Today’s rally is a celebration of democracy in action,” said Peterson. “It is an opportunity for the citizens of Goochland to discuss the issues of the day and learn more about our campaign.”

In very brief remarks following his formal announcement, Peterson said that he plans to spend the coming months meeting the citizens of District 5 and listening to their concerns about local government and collecting good ideas.

He said that positions for his campaign will be formulated around basic concepts including fiscal responsibility, transparency in government and focus on the will of the people.

“That’s not just the few courageous people who speak during the board of supervisors’ open mike sessions, but everyone,” said Peterson. “I am honored to help shape the debate about Goochland’s future.”

Liz Culley, GRW president, and Slone welcomed both candidates to the fray. The GOP will formally select its candidates at a mass meeting in April 2011. The deadline for legal filings to be a candidate in the 2011 elections is in June 2011.

This is quite a startling development. Eads’ vote to support District 2 supervisor William Quarles, Jr. as
2010 Board chair last Tuesday was viewed with displeasure among republicans and his supporters may have precipitated the announcements.

That there is enough interest in holding the position, which pays $1,000 per month and comes with a mountain of headaches, is a positive development. It will be interesting to see if any democrats jump in the ring before the election.

These candidacies will also provide a gracious plenty of opportunity for detailed discussion and careful thought about issues facing Goochland ranging from the amount and kind of development appropriate for our county to the portion of our public treasure that we want to devote to education.

Perhaps theses discussions will result in a more useful definition of rural than “I know it when I see it” so that county officials can guide Goochland’s future in the direction that its citizens truly want to go.

The time is past to let things roll along and hope for the best.

Too many citizens have become either complacent or disgusted and turned their backs on government involvement at all levels. The time has come to pay attention and decide who will lead us and hold our leaders responsible fro their actions.

As the magnitude of the mismanagement of county government comes into greater focus, we can only hope that the voters of all five districts in the county will realize the consequences of their inattention to local government over the years.

Kudos to Hyers and Peterson for their interest in civic matters and willingness to devote their considerable talents to public service.


Anonymous said...

Let's see now, Eads, who started the practice of running for Supervisor as a Republican, breaks the 10-year rotation and supports de facto Democrat Quarles over fellow Republican Butler for Supervisor Board chairman. Then Hyers seeks the Republican nomination for fifth district supervisor in collusion with de facto Democrat Eads. We really can't tell the players -- or at least which team they're playing for -- without a scorecard!

Shades of Walter Stosch's 2007 campaign(although I don't recall that Stosch ever voted to put Democrats in charge of the senate). In the end, we all wind up Democrats no matter which party we vote for.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that we do this to ourselves. The American sheeple repeatedly elect inept, corrupt, power-hungry people to lead us. We revel in mediocrity.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.