Chris Graham | Where I am on local elections

I explained in a column today on our new sister website, VirginiaPoliticsToday.com, how much I loathe making endorsements.

That said, I get it that some of our readers are at the least interested in knowing where I am on local elections, assuming that since I do news and analysis for a living I might have some insights into what’s going on.

So … here goes.

Waynesboro Treasurer: A tough call. I think Jim Serba to be the most qualified of the four candidates, but I wonder about his viability as a write-in candidate. What concerns me most is the issue of whether or not Serba, a retired retail-store manager, has done enough to get his name in front of voters, given that he is a write-in candidate, and thus voters will have to have his name on their minds when they go into the voting booth.

A second write-in candidate in the race, Terry Kent, a recently downsized retail manager, has done a much better job, in my view, getting his name out.

The third challenger is on the ballot already, Stephanie Beverage, the Republican nominee, not that her being a Republican matters much at all, considering the position up for grabs here.

The incumbent, Sandee Dixon, clearly needs to be replaced in the job. Dixon’s tenure has been marked by a string of negative local and state audit reports, and her return to the office would be an embarrassment to Waynesboro.

Where I’m torn is between Serba and Beverage. As I said above, I think Serba to be the most qualified of the four, but Beverage, I think, also brings a skillset to the mix that would make her an effective treasurer, and importantly, her name is on the ballot, which gives her a leg up among the challengers.

The dilemma: Do I vote my conscience and push the button for Serba? Or do I not risk re-electing Dixon by voting for a write-in candidate and go with Beverage?

I’m going to push the button for Beverage, and have faith that I’m doing what’s best.

25th House District: A lot of me likes Steve Landes, because for years he practiced politics the way I think you’re supposed to, playing down partisanship to do things like advocate for state money for the Wayne Theatre project that has its critics among Waynesboro Republicans.

The Landes of late has been feeling pressure from the far right of the GOP. I think that’s what was behind his inflammatory comment equating the Obama administration to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union this summer. He was throwing red meat to the base to show them that he’s one of them.

Greg Marrow is a breath of fresh air in contrast to the Landes of late. He routinely tells Democratic supporters that he campaigned for Ronald Reagan back in the ’80s, for example, which is pretty much the exact opposite of throwing red meat to the party base when you’re a Democrat.

Marrow also has ideas and passion about those ideas, something sorely lacking in Landes, who has spent a good bit of his time in the legislature chasing down outdated laws to remove from the State Code, as if removing a page here and a paragraph there does anything to make the world a better place to live.

Marrow gets my vote, even if he didn’t get a cent of money from the state Democratic Party. (Shame on them.)

20th House District: Can’t vote in this one, but if I could, I’d have quite the decision on my hands. I know Erik Curren and Dickie Bell both well. Erik used to write a column for the AFP on environmental issues; I got to know Dickie well when we worked together on the project to build a skateboard park in Staunton.

Both have their internal party critics – Curren for coming across in the minds of some of the Democratic Party faithful as being too liberal for the 20th; Bell for not exactly being effective at building coalitions in his years on Staunton City Council, where he is known as the 1 in 6-1 votes.

I think the writing is on the wall in this one, so I’ll give you this two-headed endorsement – for Bell in the 20th, and for Curren for Staunton City Council in May 2010.

24th House District: Short and sweet here – I’ve known Ben Cline for years, and though I disagree with him on some key policy matters, I know that he listens. His Democratic Party opponent, Jeff Price, I know little about; despite trying several times to set up interviews with him, dating back to Labor Day 2008, I never did get the chance to talk with him one-on-one. I’m not the type to vote for the Democrat just because he’s a Democrat, so since I never got to know Price, I’d have to vote for Cline.

26th House District: Gene Hart, Gene Hart, Gene Hart. Matt Lohr is a super-nice guy, but he has always seemed to me to be out of his league in the House of Delegates. Hart, I think, could be an up-and-comer in Democratic Party circles. The 26th has been on the verge of going Democratic a couple of times this decade. I’m not sure it makes it over the line this time around, what with the goings-on with the statewide races, but I think it would be a shame if Hart were not called by the people of the 26th to represent them in Richmond.

 

– Column by Chris Graham