Rappahannock County Commissioner of the Revenue Beverly Atkins has decided not to run for reelection Nov. 3, after serving in the position for 30 years, and deputy commissioner Sharon Dodson says she will run for her longtime boss’s job on Nov. 3.
School board member Amy Hitt, meanwhile, confirmed this week that instead of seeking a second term on the school board, as she previously announced, she’s decided to oppose Jackson district supervisor Ron Frazier, the board’s longest-serving member (in his 19th year) and loudest critic of school spending.
“I’m running because there need to be some changes,” said Hitt, who reluctantly revealed on the phone Wednesday that her plans had changed, and who said she would elaborate on her platform later. Frazier couldn’t be reached Wednesday for a comment.
Atkins, 57, said that while she’s not seeking reelection, she hasn’t yet decided to officially retire, adding wryly: “I suppose I will need to make that decision sometime before Dec. 31, when my term expires.”
Atkins has publicly admitted “considering” retirement since her last unopposed reelection in 2011; she said this week that the death last November of her 94-year-old father, Roy Atkins, influenced her decision as much as anything else to make a change.
Dodson, who is also 57, has been Atkins’ deputy for 17 years. Like Atkins, she’s a Rappahannock native, and said, in a brief statement she hand-delivered Tuesday, “I would like to continue to serve the citizens of our beautiful county as their next Commissioner of the Revenue. I sincerely appreciate any and all support.”
The Nov. 3 general election — with less than three weeks to go before candidates’ petitions are due at the Registrar of Voters office on June 9 — seems to be shaping into an odd combination of the hotly contested and the not-at-all-contested.
As of Monday, Registrar Kimberly McKiernan said, only five local candidates — vying for a total of 13 open positions — had filed petitions and had the signatures verified.
They are: Sheriff Connie C. Smith and her challenger (for the second time in as many elections), Culpeper police sergeant Anthony E. “Andy” Berry of Sperryville; and so-far-unopposed incumbents Peggy Ralph, the circuit court clerk; county treasurer Debbie Knick; Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District representative Monira Rifaat; and Wakefield district supervisor Roger Welch, the board’s current chair and second-longest-serving member (since 1998).
Commonwealth Attorney Art Goff has said he plans to run again, and is also unopposed, as is Wakefield district school board member Chris Ubben, who has also said he’ll seek a second term.
On the other hand, the Hampton district supervisor race has drawn three candidates for the seat being vacated by Bryant Lee, who’s leaving after 16 years as a supervisor and another dozen before that on the county school board: John Lesinski, 58, school board chair, real estate agent and and retired Marine who Lee endorsed early on; real estate agent, farmer and Rappahannock native Jay Miller, 57; and Harris Hollow resident, former Rappahannock County Sewer and Water Authority chair and international trade consultant Keir Whitson, 45.
There are no announced candidates for either seat on the school board held by Hampton district’s Lesinski or Jackson district’s Hitt. Hitt said Wednesday she has spoken to some possible candidates, but the vote might wind up being a write-in choice.
With only eight working days left to process candidate petitions, which must be signed by 125 registered voters, each of whom must be verified (which is why the registrar’s office recommends candidates obtain 200 signatures), part-time registrar Kim McKiernan urged this week that would-be candidates move quickly.
“Thirteen positions, 200 names on each petition, and there’s only two of us here,” she said. “We are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We’re closed Memorial Day [this Monday, May 23] and will be open until 7 p.m. on June 9.”
She cautioned that candidate petitions submitted on June 9 which subsequently fail the minimum verified signature requirement will not get that candidate’s name on the ballot.