PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Page Valley News will be publishing profiles of local candidates in contested races for this fall’s elections over the next few weeks. PVN will begin with the Luray Council race, where five candidates will compete for three seats; and then the race for Mayor of Luray, with two candidates. All profiles will be published in alphabetical order at 9 a.m. Mondays and 3 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Thursday, June 25.
• Age: 54
• Education: FBI National Academy, Session 226, 2006; Maryland Institute of Criminal Justice, 1999; Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy, 1988; Luray High School, 1984.
• Work: Owner, Baby Moons, 2016-present; Retired Major, Page County Sheriff’s Office, 2000-2016; Investigator/Polygraph Examiner, Harrisonburg Police Department, 1994-2000; Inspector, Virginia Department of Transportation, 1989-1994; Patrolman, Harrisonburg Police Department, 1988-1989.
• Community Service: Board Member/Vice Chairman, Luray Downtown Initiative, 2014-Present; Representative for the Town of Luray, Page County Economic Development Authority, 2019-Present; Member, Former Treasurer/Assistant Secretary, Luray Fire Department, 1982-Present.
• Family: Wife, Penny Pettit; son, Ryan Pettit.
• Why are you running for public office?
I have been blessed to grow up in this small town and raise a family here. Throughout my lifetime, I have seen many changes occur within our town. I have a genuine passion to see this town thrive and prosper. That said, I want to ensure that we make smart decisions to balance the challenges between growth and the quality of life that so many enjoy here.
• What makes you the best candidate?
Most of my life has been involved in Public Service. My career has been in local and state government and now in the small business sector. Having experienced these different sectors, I have a better understanding of the challenges that each may face. For the past six years, I have been in regular attendance during monthly Luray Town Council meetings as a town citizen. Even before my decision to run for Luray Town Council, I have been interested in knowing more about the challenges and successes that are happening within our town government.
• What is Luray’s most pressing issue?
I believe there are two, equally-pressing issues facing Luray. One, is the amount of empty buildings and storefronts in our town. The other, is our aging water and sewer infrastructure. The empty buildings are something we see daily as we drive through town, however, the failing water and sewer system is often unnoticed until we experience it firsthand at our home or business. With proper planning and budgeting, we can begin to develop solutions to these issues.
• What is one thing that you would like to change or improve about Luray?
If I had to pick one issue, I would like to see more businesses to fill our storefronts. This is the fuel to get things moving, create more jobs, provide variety for both locals and tourists, and generate tax revenue for needed town improvements. We need to attract entrepreneurs and investors by making it easier for them to “set up shop” in our town. We should showcase our successful businesses as examples to prove that it can be done. Thriving businesses help to generate the revenue we need to establish plans and act on infrastructure improvements.
• Briefly describe a decision you have made in a leadership role and tell why you made that decision.
Personally, I believe that you cannot judge the value of a leader on one decision. My most important leadership role is being a parent. As parents, we make decisions that will shape our children into the adults they become and the values that they hold. There is seldom one decision that serves as an example of whether or not we succeed as parents. It is the combination of all decisions that determines the outcome of our youth. As leaders, we all need to make decisions that are not only best for the moment, but are best for our future leaders.