The final countdown: Candidates prepare for voters’ verdict
Story by Chris Graham
Win or lose, the sun will come up Wednesday morning.
Larry Weeks has looked at the weather forecast – so he knows that much.
“I told my wife that no matter what happens in the election, I’m still going to have to get out of bed Wednesday morning and take care of the cows and see the kids off to school, and head to work. Life’s going to go on, win or lose,” said Weeks, an independent candidate for the Wayne District seat on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors.
The Augusta Free Press talked to Weeks and his two opponents for the Wayne seat – independent Wendell Coleman and three-term Republican incumbent Tom Sikes – on Monday to try to get a sense of what the final two days of an election campaign are like for candidates in a too-close-to-call race.
Interestingly, none of the three admitted to being nervous – when asked directly.
“It’s a combination of anticipation and anxiety,” said Sikes, conceding the most of the three.
“I’m more anxious just to see what the decision will be so I can move on with the next step in my life,” Sikes said.
Coleman said he doesn’t feel anxious or nervous – or anything of the sort.
“I wouldn’t say any of us are overconfident or anything like that, but I think we feel that we’ve done what we can do, and now it’s up to the voters to decide who they want to have as their supervisor,” Coleman said.
Sikes was busy on Monday putting together a schedule for the last hours of his re-election campaign.
The strategy was to keep the campaign’s frenetic pace of the past few weeks.
“We’ll have people out walking the neighborhoods of the district and knocking on doors. Our goal is to hit 1,500 homes in the district by the end of the day,” Sikes said.
Weeks planned to do some door-to-door campaigning of his own Monday evening.
“The only problem for me is, I don’t have the campaign volunteers that my opponents have. I’ll head out to a few neighborhoods and hit what I can,” he said.
Coleman said he wasn’t planning anything special.
“We’ve been campaigning since January, and we were focused from the outset at not having to go into a panic mode at the end. And we’re not going to do that,” Coleman said.
He even took it relatively easy over the course of the weekend preceding Election Day.
“I visited with some people who wanted to talk issues, but I made sure to make time for my family, spent some time with my grandchildren,” Coleman said.
“I think it could be counterproductive to get out there the day or two before the election and see somebody that you haven’t seen before. They might look at you and say, ‘Where have you been?’ I think that could send out a sign that maybe we’re feeling a little bit like we’re desperate. We’ve worked hard to not have to get that way,” Coleman said.
Election Day schedule
Coleman and Sikes both plan to be at the polls early – within a few minutes of the 6 a.m. opening.
Both will rotate throughout the day with campaign volunteers at each of the three polling locations in the Wayne District – at the Dooms Community Center and the Preston L. Yancey Fire Department and the Valley Vocational-Technical Center, both in Fishersville.
Weeks is going to vote in Dooms – and then head to work.
“I’ll probably go back (to the polls) after work, but really, I’m not sure how much that kind of things help. I’ve never once, not once in my life, changed my mind about who I was going to vote for because somebody handed me some literature at the polling place,” Weeks said.
As the day winds down toward 7 p.m., the focus will turn to taking down the hundreds upon hundreds of campaign signs that have become a part of the driving landscape over the course of the past few months.
Sikes and Coleman have sign-removal teams ready to hit the county’s primary and secondary roads at 7 p.m. sharp – with the goal of having their candidates’ markers down within the hour.
Weeks is in charge of taking down his own signs – and he said he has told residents who have agreed to place Weeks for Supervisor signs in their yards that he would have them down by Wednesday evening.
“We’ve done the door to door. We’ve been out to talk to the people,” Coleman said. “There’s not a lot more we can do at this point. That was our plan, our systematic plan, and we feel good about where we are with it.”
“Either the voters want me back, and I’ll continue on for the next four years, or if not, I’ll get on with the rest of my life,” Sikes said. “I have plenty on my agenda either way.”
“I’m not really nervous at this point. I’ve done everything I can do. I’ve given it my best shot. Now it’s just up to the voters,” Weeks said.