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Augusta County Republican mailer left out BOS member Scott Seaton: What gives?

Chris Graham

augusta county republican sample ballot A sample ballot mailed out to Republican voters in Augusta County by the Republican Party of Virginia this week notably left out the lone Republican candidate in a contested Augusta County Board of Supervisors race: yes, that would be Scott Seaton, who has been a bit of a thorn in the side of the local political establishment of late.

The sample ballot was paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia, and authorized by the Augusta County Republican Committee, according to information included in the address label.

We reached out to the Republican Party of Virginia and to Dave Bourne, the chair of the Augusta County Republican Committee, and the Republican nominee for the open Augusta County Treasurer post in the Nov. 7 election, for comment.

Our message to the RPV sent on Thursday has not elicited a response; neither has our reach-out to Bourne, made on Friday.

Chris Graham on Augusta County Republican mailer controversy

We have been able to piece together what may have happened in background conversations with a member of the local Republican Party committee and with a member of Seaton’s campaign team.

According to what we have been told, the county GOP committee has not met for several months, and it’s not known whether the committee voted to approve the design of the sample ballot, which features the party’s candidates for the State Senate, House of Delegates and the three of the four constitutional offices on the ballot in November.

Bourne, as the local party chair, would ostensibly have had to have signed off on the final design of the sample ballot, we learned from our background conversations.

There were other candidates left off the ballot. Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin, who is running unopposed for re-election, was not included, though Steve Landes, the Clerk of Court, also running unopposed, was included.

Also left off: Jeff Slaven, who is running unopposed for re-election for the North River District seat on the Board of Supervisors; Michael Shull, who is running unopposed for re-election for the Riverheads District seat on the BOS; and Carolyn Bragg, who is running unopposed for the South River District seat on the Board.

Seaton is the lone incumbent supervisor who is facing opposition. John Higgs, listed as an independent, is his challenger.

Higgs’ candidacy made news back in the summer when Higgs revealed to veteran News Virginian politics reporter Bob Stuart that he had been recruited to run against Seaton by two Board of Supervisors members, and named one of those who had been part of that recruiting effort – Butch Wells, the Beverley Manor District supervisor, who, like Seaton, is a Republican, per this profile page on the Augusta County Republican Committee website.

Wells, Slaven and Shull have been outspoken critics of Seaton, who first raised the ire of county leaders back in the spring when he raised issue with fees assessed to local residents by the regional animal shelter that Seaton contends haven’t been authorized under state law or local ordinance.

Seaton has also spoken critically of the county’s unwillingness to outfit the county sheriff’s office with body and dash cams despite widespread public support.

And as those two issues were coming to a head, Seaton revealed that he had been recording closed sessions of the BOS, which his fellow Board members cited in a vote to censure him in July.

That battle, in turn, led to revelations that there was more to the March 20 resignation of Steve Morelli from his South River seat on the Board of Supervisors than was made publicly known, which is the subject of an ongoing battle being led by AFP to gain access, through the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, to the recording made by Seaton of a closed session held on March 20 in which the Morelli resignation is thought to have been discussed at length by supervisors.

Seaton, in spite of the challenges he is facing from fellow Republicans, is widely expected to be on pace to cruise to a re-election win in the Wayne District race on Nov. 7.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].