THIS ARTICLE IS COMMENTARY AND PUBLISHED IN OUR EDITORIAL SECTION.
By Randy Arrington, publisher
While many slots may get filled after local political parties officially endorse candidates (expected in mid-May), a few candidates have stepped forward to make their intentions known early for a host of local offices up for grabs in this November’s general election. Local elections, which are the focus of this year’s election cycle, often carry the most immediate and direct impacts on our daily lives, and with so many key positions on the ballot, the 2023 election could impact local government for years to come.
At least 10 candidates have officially filed or publicly stated their intentions to run this November, seeking ballots among Page County’s 17,049 voters (as of April 6). At this point, it looks like three of five constitutional offices will be challenged; there will be at least two new faces on the Page County Board of Supervisors; and at least one race and one new face on the Page County School Board.
With an eight-year term at stake, incumbent Republican Grayson Markowitz could see two or more challengers for clerk of the Page County Circuit Court. Markowitz was elected to his first term in 2015, when the field started out at 14 candidates and whittled down to nine on the ballot. Markowitz won the office with just 24.7 percent of the vote, or 1,734 ballots. He now seeks a second, eight-year term and will likely file his intentions with the county registrar after securing the GOP nomination next month. One independent seeking the seat includes Shirron Ballard, who previously ran for the office in 2015, when she earned just 10 percent of the votes cast (706 ballots). There could be another challenger from within the courthouse emerging soon.
Longtime Commissioner of the Revenue Becky Smith is seeking a third, four-year term. While she has announced her candidacy, she will likely not file her paperwork with the registrar until after securing the Republican nomination again. While she ran unopposed in 2015 and 2019, Smith will be challenged this year by independent Tom Bauserman, who currently works in the commissioner of the revenue’s office in Rockingham County.
While it appears (at least for now) that Penny Gray and Bryan Cave will remain the treasurer and commonwealth’s attorney, respectively, with no current or anticipated opposition — the race for one constitutional office began more than two years ago and it will clearly capture the most attention. Sheriff Chad Cubbage has publicly stated that he intends to run for another four years, although he is waiting to file his paperwork until securing a GOP endorsement in about five weeks. Last fall, independent challenger Aaron Cubbage (Chad’s first cousin) made his intentions known early — some 15 months before the election. Although both men are trying to avoid the issue, the “cousin versus cousin” aspect of this race is something folks are talking about, along with the usual widespread attention a sheriff’s race receives. It will be interesting to see if a “late bid” for the office once again emerges to create a three-way race, as it has unfolded several times over the last two decades.
Two of the three supervisors currently sitting on the board that have open seats this fall will likely not pursue re-election. District 3 representative Mark Stroupe has publicly stated on several occasions that he did not intend to run for a third term, after winning a four-way race in 2015 over incumbent J.D. Cave and former sheriff Danny Presgraves, and a two-way challenge in 2019 over former board chairman Johnny Woodward. Running as an independent, Ryan Cubbage has stepped forward to seek the District 3 seat. Cubbage currently serves as Luray’s assistant superintendent of Parks and Rec, while also pursuing a master’s degree at George Mason, working in an internship with Homeland Security, and serving as the chairman of the Page Alliance for Community Action.
In District 2, Allen Louderback is expected to seek the GOP nomination again, while District 4 representative Larry Foltz is expected to step down after this year due to lingering health concerns. Foltz won a three-way race with 51 percent of the vote in 2015 before running unopposed in 2019. No apparent challengers or candidates have surfaced so far for either district. Louderback was unopposed in 2019, after previously serving on the board more than two decades earlier.
Three of the four seats open on the school board will likely see incumbents seek re-election, but District 3 representative, Dr. Amy Painter, is not expected to run for re-election due to growing responsibilities within Rockingham County Public Schools where she is employed. Taylor Alger is expected to seek election to the District 1 seat she was appointed to following the death of Tommy Lansberry last year. District 4’s Duane Painter, who won as a write-in in 2019 after the seat drew no official candidate, has picked up paperwork to run again. Rolf Gubler, who won a second, four-year term in 2019, is also expected to once again pursue the District 2 seat. However, later this week, Page Valley News will be announcing a challenger in District 2.
Both Jimmy Burke and longtime representative Charles Newton have filed paperwork with the voter registrar to appear on the ballot as candidates for Page County’s two seats on the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District. Newton served for many years in the role alongside Linda Campbell, who passed away last year.
Two General Assembly seats will appear on the November ballot as well, when both House Speaker Todd Gilbert and Virginia Senator Mark Obenshain seek re-election. Following re-districting, Page County nows sits within the second senatorial district (previously the 26th), and the 33rd House district (previously the 15th). There is still a potential for a primary for both offices. The local registrar is awaiting word from Richmond this month as to whether or not the office must quickly prepare for June primaries.
After being unopposed in 2011, Obenshain faced opposition from Democrat April Moore in both 2015 and 2019. In Page County, the results for the last two elections were almost identical for the senate seat — eight years ago Obenshain earned 74.1 percent of the local vote, and four years ago he earned 74.2 percent.
Gilbert, who has typically ran unopposed in the former 15th, fended off a challenge from Democrat Beverly Harrison in 2019 by winning 77.2 percent of the vote in Page.
For those still contemplating a run for public office this November, about nine weeks remain before the deadline for candidates to file by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20. All candidates must secure 125 signatures from registered voters in Page County (except for soil and water district seats) and complete other candidacy paperwork, which can be requested from Page County Voter Registrar Carol Gaunt.
Early voting begins Friday, September 22 — just over five months away.
Page County Voter Registrar’s office is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located in the Page County Government Center, 103 South Court Street, Suite D, Luray.
For more information, call (540) 743-3986.
Bauserman announces bid to become Page County’s next Commissioner of the Revenue
Cubbage announces bid for District 3 supervisor seat
Gray announces re-election bid for Page County Treasurer
Markowitz seeks second term as clerk of the court
Smith seeks third term as Page County’s commissioner of the revenue
Stanley Police Captain announces 2023 bid for sheriff of Page County
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