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; then the race for Mayor of Luray, with two candidates; and the chairman of the Page County School Board, 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: 66
• Education: James Madison University, B.B.A. Magna Cum Laude, 1976; Luray High School, 1972.
• Work: Luray Caverns , Luray Motor Company , Harrisonburg Auto Auction, E.N. Hershberger Company, Shenandoah National Park, Delaware North at Shenandoah Parks, own/operate two self-service carwash and short-term rental.
• Elected Office: Luray Town Council, 2015 – 2020; Shenandoah Valley Electric Coop, Board of Directors, 2019.
• Community: President, Luray/ Page Chamber of Commerce, 1985, Treasurer, 2015-2016; President, Caverns Shrine Club, 2014 and 2015; President, Luray Jaycees, 1985; Charter Member and vice-chairman, Luray Hawksbill Greenway Foundation; Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 289, Boy Scouts of America; Cubmaster, Pack 55, Cub Scouts of America; Coach and Board Member, Luray Little League; Coach for Page County Recreation Soccer; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Award Recipient; Lafayette Lodge #137, Caverns Shrine Club; B.B.& T. Page County Advisory Board; Town of Luray Planning Commission; Byrd Newspapers Scholarship Award Committee, 2018.
• Family: Wife, Nora; son, Nathan.
• Why are you running for public office?
I feel it is the responsibility of every citizen to contribute to and strengthen our community. That does not mean that everyone must run for public office but, for me, I am drawn to public service. I grew up in a community-minded family with deep roots in Luray. Over the years I have watched Luray evolve from various vantage points: first, as a child and student growing up here, then as an involved adult, family person and business owner. These perspectives are an asset that help me in providing community leadership and making appropriate decisions in the town’s best interest.
• What makes you the best candidate?
My love for Luray and sense of community gained from involvement, public service, and personal involvement in our Town. For 40 years before I sought political office, I volunteered in numerous organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Luray Little League, Cub and Boy Scouts, and the Page County Recreation League. My service on the Town Council has provided knowledge regarding Town operations and the complex issues Elected Officials must deal with. As a longtime advocate and business stakeholder, I pledge to work diligently with our citizens, the Town Council and Town staff to make our town a desirable place to live, work, and raise a family.
• What is Luray’s most pressing issue?
Seasonal fluctuations in the tourism, construction, and agricultural industries frequently lead to high unemployment rates in Page County and by extension the Town of Luray. The Town Council has established Hub and Enterprise Zones to induce new businesses to locate here. Our Luray Downtown Initiative does a wonderful job of supporting existing businesses and working to attract others. While we have had some successes, there are still too many vacant storefronts both in the downtown and throughout Luray. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed economic development everywhere, but we must persevere with our efforts. The town must work with the private sector, County Government, and state-level resources to establish an effective economic development plan. We must then implement that plan. As a longtime local business owner with experience in retail, wholesale, and tourism I can honestly say that I understand the challenges our business community faces and I will work on their behalf.
• What is one thing that you would like to change or improve about Luray?
I would like to improve our community spirit, outlook, and involvement. Recent national events have been challenging and depressing for everyone. It is incumbent on the Town’s leaders to initiate a positive influence in our community by being accessible, visible, and supportive. Our Town Council meetings are now more transparent by livestreaming our Council meetings. This will continue even when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, hopefully with new and better technology. It is my hope our citizens will take this opportunity to stay current on local issues, get involved, and provide input to the Council on issues that affect our community.
• Briefly describe a decision you have made in a leadership role and tell why you made that decision.
One of the leadership decisions I am quite proud of is the Town’s contribution to help fund the construction of Lord Fairfax Community College’s new campus facility in Luray with a $400,000 monetary contribution spread over 5 years. Obviously this is a large amount of taxpayer dollars, requiring much thought and discussion by the town Council. My thoughts were that the benefits Luray will receive in terms of economic development and future educational opportunities for our youth justified this large contribution. I have never regretted nor had second thoughts concerning this decision.