Last month, the Harrisonburg chapter of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party played host to four of the eight candidates seeking election to the Harrisonburg City Council. Last night, the remaining four candidates took the stage to offer their ideas and plans for the city.
These candidates were: Christine Johnson, a local business owner and a Republican, Roger Baker, the former city manager and an independent, Anthony Bailey, the local assistant commonwealth attorney and a Republican, and Richard Baugh, the current Harrisonburg mayor, an attorney, and a Democrat. Although not on stage, Abe Shearer was present as well. As was the case with last month’s meeting, the audience attendance was a good bit smaller than expected.
Each candidate was allotted a ten-minute window to speak followed by a question and answer period. Although hoping to offer his thoughts due to his early departure last month, Abe Shearer was not allowed to comment on the issues raised.
Like last month, I took this opportunity to present the same question regarding the city owned golf course. Johnson, Baker, and Bailey each seemed to support the idea of the course, although admitted that it could have been run more efficiently. Mayor Baugh did not have a chance to reply due to time constraints. After the meeting, Abe Shearer mentioned that, despite the financial failings of the course, the council ought to strongly consider whether it is the proper role of government to operate the course. Given his comments, I believe that if he were on the council when the decision was made, he would have opposed the idea of a city golf course.
After the question and answer period, I took the microphone to remind everyone to vote on November 6th and encouraged them to learn about all of the candidates running prior to the election so that they will make an informed decision. After all, that concept was one of the key reasons why I pushed for and helped organized these two forums with the city council candidates. I wanted tea party members to get to know the candidates so that they could gauge each based upon his or her principles and not merely rely on party labels.
Next, the leader of the tea party took the stage to remind everyone that the tea party does not endorse candidates. However, in what came as a bit of a shock, she then proceeded to more or less remind everyone to vote for George Allen for Senate. In addition, she recommended that attendees should not “throw their vote away” by voting for either Virgil Goode or Gary Johnson for president given that neither of these two candidates will be listed on the ballot of every state.
The meeting concluded with a reading of Angie Williams’ Vote Your Conscience, which reminds the listener to “put partisan politics completely aside, and let your conscience be your guide.”