Across the state, a multitude of localities held elections for mayor, city council, town council, school board today. Although Harrisonburg holds their municipal elections in November, citizens in the nearby counties of Page, Shenandoah, and Albemarle, as well as the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, went to the polls.
Therefore, I traveled to Staunton for two purposes, to collect ballot petition signatures and to observe this election firsthand. It should be noted that unlike Harrisonburg, all of the candidates ran as independents, none had party labels.
During my several hour adventure, I had the opportunity to speak with a variety of voters, including Bruce Elder, who sought the Democratic nod against Bob Goodlatte before falling ill during the winter. I also met half of the eight candidates for Staunton City Council. After a short stint at Ward 1, I spent most of the day at Ward 4, the second most heavily trafficked precinct in the city.
Although I have no idea of the campaigns these individuals ran prior to Election Day, it should be noted that the level of activity at the polls today did not necessarily equate with success. I spoke with John Hartless (who finished 5th), Sean Harvey (who finished 4th), Terry Holmes (who placed 2nd and thus won a seat on council), and Virginia Kivlighan (who finished 7th). I did not see any of the other candidates nor any of their supporters.
Some of the volunteers outside the polling place where I stood encouraged voters to select the three Hs (Hartless, Harvey, and Holmes). Although Holmes posted his best showing at Ward 4 percentage-wise, both Hartless and Harvey found lower numbers at that ward than they did citywide.
While enjoying lunch at Wright’s Dairy Rite with Will Hammer, the newly minted nominee for the 6th district House of Representatives, I ran into one of the Staunton council candidates who introduced me as a future member of Harrisonburg City Council to another fellow. Although appreciative of these words, I suppose we’ll discover if this prediction comes true.
After the polls closed, I spoke again to Mr. Hammer, who also picked up signatures in Staunton. Today, he collected over 20% of the signatures needed to make the November ballot (assuming all are valid, of course).
Yes, one election season has drawn to a close for some localities, but the next is getting underway. Politics is pretty close to being a year-round sport in the Commonwealth.
Whether victorious today or not, I want to offer congratulations to all of the candidates for Staunton City Council. I have heard each ran positive, issue-driven campaigns; in an age where personal attacks and mudslinging are commonplace, it is refreshing to find a dose of civility now and then.