By Randy Arrington
LURAY, April 28 — Just six weeks from the filing deadline, only one candidate has officially filed paperwork to appear on the November ballot for one of the seven open seats in Page County. However, the local ballot is already taking shape through party endorsements and confirmations given to Page Valley News from some of those already sitting in those seven seats.
As of Tuesday, Megan Gordon was the only candidate to have officially filed paperwork with County Registrar Carol Gaunt — something she did on March 12. The program director for Page Alliance For Community Action (PACA) intends to challenge Jason Breeden for the chair’s seat on the Page County School Board for a second time. In the fall, Gordon ran for the seat as a write-in candidate.
“I knew it was going to be difficult to run as a write in, and I had decided during the election process in November that I was going to run again on the ballot this year,” Gordon told PVN. “I have a desire to serve Page County and believe the position would allow me to utilize my skills to foster relationships within the school division and the community, so together we can maximize our resources to serve the interests of all our children.”
Breeden has picked up paperwork from the registrar and confirmed with PVN that he is going to run this fall to retain a seat he won in a special election just six months ago.
“Yes, I plan on running for school board chair again,” Breeden said, “because I want to continue to help with advancing the students’ best interests.”
The school board chairman race could well be the most contested and most watched race in the county this fall. As of this week, there seems to be few challenges to other open seats — although that does not mean there won’t be new faces.
District 3 representative to the Page County Planning Commission, Keith Weakley, received the Republican nomination at last Tuesday’s mass meeting to run for chairman of the Page County Board of Supervisors.
“Personally, I have never aspired to serve in an elected office. However, recent happenings on the Boards of Supervisors have urged me to reconsider that position and seek that office to affect change,” Weakley told PVN. “I have also been approached by numerous members of our community to run for this office; Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. This has strengthened my resolve to run. I am running so that the county can benefit from someone with a business acumen in the role of chairman, and to restore integrity and transparency to the Page County Board of Supervisors.”
Weakley has served on the planning commission since May 2012 and on the Board of Directors of the William “Bill” Kibler Library in Stanley since December 2010. He currently serves as a regional senior vice president for Springfield-based Volkert Inc., a privately held consulting firm offering engineering, environmental consulting and construction services.
“As both a small business owner in Page County, as well as being involved in larger business ventures, and a lifelong resident of Page County, I feel I will make decisions that are in the best interest of the county, and its residents,” Weakley continued. “As an engineer with experience in both the public sector and the private sector, I will bring a perspective that is unique and currently lacking.”
Incumbent chairman Morgan Phenix did not respond to two attempts to inquire about his intentions for the upcoming election. He has neither filed, nor even obtained, paperwork from the registrar. Phenix has struggled with the gavel during his tenure, and is not expected to run for a second term.
District 1 supervisor Keith Guzy earned another endorsement from the local Republican Committee last week to retain his seat on the board of supervisors. Guzy was first elected in 2013 and won a second, four-year term in 2017. He has obtained paperwork from the county registrar, but has not yet filed his candidacy. When asked why he decided to run for a third term, he replied: “Yes, I secured the Republican nomination on Tuesday night’s Republican Mass Meeting.”
While Weakley and Guzy attended and spoke at the GOP’s mass meeting last week, District 5 supervisor Jeff Vaughan was unable to attend, but he still earned the Republican endorsement to retain his seat on the board of supervisors. Vaughan served as the District 5 supervisor for one term after winning the seat in 2009. He did not run for re-election in 2013. Vaughan did not respond to attempts for comment about his intention to run this fall.
Tommy Lansberry has picked up paperwork from the registrar, which would seem to indicate that he intends to defend his District 1 seat on the school board. However, Lansberry has been silent — as he often is at meetings — and did not respond to multiple attempts for comment about his political intentions this fall. So far, no challengers have emerged for either District 1 seat (school board or supervisors); however, prior District 1 school board candidate Derek Goebel has obtained paperwork from the registrar and may be contemplating another run.
Jackie Sullivan-Smoot, an enthusiastic member of the school board, has picked up her paperwork and was eager to state her intentions to retain her District 5 seat.
“Yes, I do plan to run again,” she stated. “I so enjoy serving on this board.”
So far, there are no challengers to either District 5 seat.
The only other local race on this year’s fall ballot will be a special election for the Luray Council. Stephanie Lillard was appointed to a seat vacated by Jerry Dofflemyer earlier this year, after he won the mayor’s race in November. Lillard intends to run for her appointed seat in the next general election.
“Yes, I plan to seek election for my current seat on the Luray Town Council,” she told PVN. “When asked ‘why do I want to be on the town council?’ — the answer is quite simple — it’s opportunity! An opportunity to serve, an opportunity to make a positive impact, an opportunity to give back — and all for a place that I get to call home.”
“Luray, and Page County is full of potential,” Lillard continued. “Being a public servant to our community is a privilege. It is a privilege that presents exciting opportunities to be a part of the critical decision making which helps to shape our community. Particularly speaking as a native, property owner, and a parent, I am an advocate for fostering economic growth that is feasible, and sustainable. Lastly, I believe my career experience lends to my ability to serve well in the position. I am hopeful the Town’s constituents will vote in confidence for me to act on their behalf, championing intentional and proactive effort for ensuring our Town realizes its fullest potential.”
The deadline to file a candidacy for a local office is 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8. Those not endorsed by a political party must obtain 125 signatures on their petition for candidacy.
To date, no local candidates have been nominated for this fall’s election by the Page County Democratic Committee.
Early voting for the Democratic primary for statewide offices — Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General — began on April 23. Early voting is taking place on the lower level of the County Administration Building (near the Treasurer’s office) on South Court Street in Luray. Early voting is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additional hours will be available on Saturday, May 22 and the final day for early voting, Friday, May 29.
Ballots will be mailed (if requested) until May 27. A drop box will be located in the early voting room at the county administration building, if voters do not want to mail their ballot.
All those voting early in person are reminded to bring their ID.
Anyone needing assistance may call (540) 743-3986 and they may vote from their vehicle outside the building.