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As progressives, Jennifer Kitchen wouldn’t get our vote

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As Waynesboro residents, we’re not in the 25th District. As a news source in the Valley, however, we feel inclined to tell you why Jennifer Kitchen wouldn’t get our vote.

The truth is we probably agree on more issues than we don’t.

Unfortunately actions speak louder than words, and her actions tell us she wouldn’t be a good choice to serve the Valley in Richmond.

Kitchen spoke out against a woman-owned brewery in Augusta County because she thought a 2018 event it was hosting was in poor taste. After significant social media backlash, the organizer cancelled the event.

But that wasn’t enough for Kitchen.

Instead of moving on, she continued to push the issue, contacting a reporter at the News Leader and trying her best to continue to flog the business in question.

Since we were friends with the owners of the small business and had done some marketing work for them over the years, we offered to contact Kitchen. We didn’t know her personally, but thought since we had mutual friends and were all active in Democratic politics in the region, we could appeal to her to drop the fight against the brewery.

I contacted her, not as Augusta Free Press.

I introduced myself as a fellow Democrat with mutual friends. Never identified myself as an employee or owner of Augusta Free Press. I asked her if she would consider letting it go. The owners had already cancelled the event, I reasoned, and asked her to let it be a lesson learned.

But it was clear that she was hellbent on making sure this business was punished through the media. She had already contacted a reporter at the News Leader and had no intention of backing down.

When I realized this was the case, I conceded that she likely wouldn’t agree on this issue, and ended the phone call.

But it didn’t stop there.

Kitchen had contacted Leader reporter Laura Peters and after the phone call, and decided to drag Augusta Free Press into the fight.

The paper reported that AFP more or less tried to strong-arm Kitchen into changing her position.

Let me reiterate: I never mentioned Augusta Free Press once in the phone call.

The newspaper didn’t call us for comment. But that’s another battle for another day. And we addressed that with them later (and they added our side to the story). It was absurd that we were ever mentioned, but alas …

Kitchen argued later on social media and on the SAW Citizen Action Network group Facebook page that I was representing AFP because when I contacted Kitchen, my profile showed me as an employee of Augusta Free Press.

She wasn’t going to let it go.

As it turns out, a male I presumed was Kitchen’s husband was also actively posting on the thread. I pointed out that his profile said he worked for Crutchfield. Did that mean that all of his comments were also the position of Crutchfield?

Begrudgingly, after that, Jennifer posted a sarcastic apology to me in the group. We won’t share it here. She said the words, but she didn’t mean a single one of them.

This isn’t really about Augusta Free Press. It is about how Kitchen reacted to a heated situation.

Kitchen lacks the maturity to serve in Richmond.

We don’t need someone in Richmond who believes in cancel culture.

We don’t need someone in Richmond who attacks small businesses.

We don’t need someone in Richmond who attacks women-owned merchants.

We don’t need someone in Richmond who is shortsighted – and attacks one of the owners of a progressive news source that could have helped in her in her election.

We don’t need someone in Richmond who gets pleasure out of other people’s pain.

We don’t need someone in Richmond who can’t admit a mea culpa and instead reacts with sarcasm and a tremendous lack of respect.

As the progressive news source in the Valley, it pains us to not give her our support.

But sometimes, you have to trust your gut. And our gut tells us that Kitchen doesn’t belong in Richmond or Washington or even in a leadership role at the local level.

She has a lot to learn, and it starts with the ability to admit you are wrong. And be willing to give a meaningful apology when it happens.

Story by Crystal Graham