Sunday, July 31, 2011

Into the fray

County GOP to field historic number of candidates

Goochland’s Republican Committee will field a large slate of candidates for the November 8 local elections. At its Wednesday, July 27 mass meeting, the local GOP nominated candidates for Commonwealth’s Attorney, Treasurer and supervisor in Districts 2, 3 and 4. Candidates for school board in all five districts also received endorsements.

Claiborne H. Stokes, Jr. the current Commonwealth’s Attorney is seeking election to his second full term in office.

Pamela Cooke Johnson, who was appointed interim county treasurer earlier this year, is seeking election to that office in her own right.

GOP contenders in District 1 and 5 will be determined by party canvass to be held next Tuesday, August 2. Both will run between 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. There will be no absentee voting. Those wishing to vote in these canvasses must present a photo ID to verify residence in the district. For additional information contact Ben Slone, chair of the Goochland Republican Committee at 556-1180.

The District 1 canvass will be held at the Fife Company 4 fire-rescue station on Hadensville-Fife Road.

In that race, Susan Lascollette, a founder of the Goochland Tea Party, has been delving into county operations for quite some time. She is the clear choice to oppose incumbent Andre Pryor, who has been in office since the Nixon administration.

The District 5 canvass will be held at Dover Baptist Church on Manakin Road.

Ken Petersen, whose finance background and deep concern about the current Board of Supervisors’ indifference to the county’s massive debt obligations, is the clear choice in District 5. As no other contenders for the open District 5 supervisor race have yet come forward, this canvass could pick the next supervisor.

This is the first time that the Goochland GOP has fielded such a wide array of candidates for local office. Given the number and severity of scandals that have erupted in local government in the last four years citizens seem ready to elect new government officials on the local level.
It will be interesting to see just how nasty some of the campaigns will get, especially in Districts 1 and 2 where long entrenched incumbents either turned a blind eye to or were intellectually incapable of understanding the malevolent dysfunction in county government.

Indeed, should the GOP candidates prevail at the polls on November 8, they face the daunting task of getting the county back on track.

The supervisor candidates that faced no opposition for the republican nomination are: District 2 Manual Alvarez, Jr. of Sandy Hook; District 3 incumbent Ned S. Creasey of Maidens and District 4 incumbent Malvern R. “Rudy” Butler of Manakin-Sabot.

Having left Cuba at age 14 to avoid conscription into Castro’s military, Alvarez fears little and will offer District 2 voters a choice for supervisor for the first time in decades. He will face formidable opposition from the family that has controlled District 2 politics for a very long time.

Alvarez said that he had been contemplating a run for supervisor for a while, but the decided to run when he heard that the board of supervisors failed to rotate the chairmanship. He cited continuating revelations of corruption in county government as contributing factors in his decision.

Creasey, finishing his first term on the board, has just gotten started rooting out corruption and dysfunction in county government.

Butler takes his responsibilities as a supervisor seriously and works hard for his constituents.

Candidates for school board that received the GOP endorsement are: District 1 Michael Payne; District 2 Kevin Hazzard; District 3 John Lumpkins; District 4 Beth Hardy and District 5 John Wright.

These school board candidates bring a fascinating collection of important skill sets to the race. Payne is a teacher. Hazzard has wide ranging technical skills and teaches at J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College. Lumpkins is a lawyer. Hardy runs her own business. Wright is an accountant. They all have children in county schools and are actively involved in local education. They all believe that the most important educational resource are teachers and want to work hard to support them.

They do not seem like the kind of people who run with scissors and should play well with each other and the board of supervisors.

“We need to pay our teachers like we love them,” said Hazzard. What a change from the attitude of current school administration that seems to regard our teachers as costs of two feet little different from toilet paper that should be purchased at the lowest cost regardless of quality and discarded at will.

School board candidates also cited the current school board’s lack of interest in details of running our schools. They contend that a change of leadership is needed to restore trust in county schools and believe that open communication with the board of supervisors and citizens is vital to ensure excellence in local education. They also seem to understand that the supply of money to run schools is not endless and that careful prioritizing is vital to spend tax dollars with wisdom and efficiency.

For the first time ever, school board and supervisor candidates pledged to work together for the good of the county and the school system. We currently operate under a confrontational method in which members of both boards tend to snipe at each other instead of communicating. This has got to change.

All of the candidates are to be commended for getting off of the sidelines and putting themselves forth to tackle Goochland’s problems.

Challengers face stiff opposition as entrenched incumbents dig in their heels. Roads are being repaved and other “favors” coming out of the woodwork. One question that challengers and voters must ask incumbents is why they cling to the low paying headache laden jobs. We also need to hear, at length, their excuses for the mess that they enabled and what they will do differently in the future.

This should be a very interesting campaign!

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