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AFP Focus | Checking homework in 20th

Two issues to delve into the 20th District race today, both involving homework.

First, regarding Adrian Rogers and Dickie Bell being a “Republican for a Reason.” The website for Bell, the Republican nominee, featured a quote from the late Rogers, the former head of the American Southern Baptist Convention, on socialism on a webpage titled “Republican for a Reason.” The Bell campaign team failed to do its homework, though. Rogers, an advocate of the inerrancy of the Bible, when asked once his thoughts on what the Bible held on the issue of slavery, answered that slavery was a “much-maligned institution” and offered further that if it had not been abolished “we would not have such a welfare problem.”

Rogers was also known for leading a boycott Disney for its alleged promotion of homosexuality.

The response from the Bell campaign was muted – aside from removing the comment from Rogers from the “Republican for a Reason” page, the campaign has not made any public statements on the matter.

To the second item also involving homework. The Erik Curren campaign earlier this month hit Bell for two votes on Staunton City Council on matters involving the public golf course at Gypsy Hill Park and the West End fire station. Bell voted against funding for the new fire station and in favor of funding for improvements to the golf course.

“My opponent’s priorities seem mixed up,” Curren said in a statement released to the news media on Oct. 12 blasting Bell for the votes.

Bell got in touch with the AFP to raise issue with Curren’s statements to that effect. He said the golf-course improvements had been on the city’s capital-improvement list for years but had never been completed because of lack of funds. In the course of refinancing the $10 million debt incurred by the city on the Stonewall Jackson Hotel renovation, it was suggested that monies in a cash balance resulting from the refinancing could be used to make the suggested golf-course improvements.

“It had absolutely nothing to do with a firehouse, so that comparison is unfair and dishonest,” Bell said.

Bell’s vote on the fire station was based on “the pricetag,” he said. Bell balked at building the station at a cost of more than a million dollars, and offered a proposal to build at the city public-works facility at what he thought would be a substantial cost savings. The proposal died for lack of a second on City Council.

“It hardly seems fair to say I voted against a fire station when I offered a proposal for building one. My concern was a pricetag that had more than doubled the cost to the taxpayer,” Bell said.

Curren’s concern, again, is priorities.

“Does he consider golf to be a core service of government?” Curren said. “My opponent seems to think that taxpayers should pay for a golf course but not for better fire protection. Voters are right to ask, if my opponent were sent to Richmond, would he put special interests and frivolous spending ahead of the public interest and core services like transportation, education, and public safety? If so, that’s not fiscal conservatism – that’s fiscal irresponsibility.”


– Column by Chris Graham


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