Lawyer goes head-to-head with incumbent Chris Parrish
With less than three weeks remaining before Election Day, Washington lawyer David Konick, a former Rappahannock County Zoning Administrator who now sits on the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals, has launched a write-in campaign to unseat incumbent Rappahannock County Supervisor Chris Parrish, who had been running unopposed for a third term.
“I ask for your write-in vote on Election Day, November 7th,” Konick wrote earlier this week atop a blue sample ballot he authorized and paid for, which besides accusations leveled against the board of supervisors instructs voters how to write-in his name.
But Konick didn’t officially announce his candidacy until 6 p.m. last evening in an embargoed two-page statement, explaining that “a number of people” earlier this year had encouraged him to consider becoming a candidate for supervisor to replace Parrish.
“Initially, I declined. But this month — after our Stonewall District supervisor voted for proposed amendments that would effectively gut Rappahannock’s Zoning Ordinance, add half a million dollars to the budget only three months into the fiscal year, and commit county taxpayers to pay 20 percent of a six million dollar bike path that most people with a lick of common sense don’t want and don’t think we need — these same people asked me to reconsider my decision and enter the race,” he wrote.
“I found it hard to say ‘no’ in good conscience. I’ve known Chris Parrish for forty years, and supported him when he first ran for supervisor. He promised to be a voice to keep Rappahannock County rural — the kind of place he grew up in during the 1950s and 1960s, and the kind of place I moved to in the 1970s to raise my family. Remember in 2009 when Chris promised ‘no changes?’ I do. That promise is what got him elected.”
Konick said he will be “going door-to-door between now and Election Day to ask every Stonewall District voter for their vote on November 7th.”
If elected to the five-member board, Konick said he will strive to achieve goals surrounding “accountability” while “prioritizing spending on essential services.”
He cited, for example, the board’s recent vote in approval of a 1.2-mile multi-use “Connector” trail that will link Rappahannock County’s two public schools as “not an essential service.” The trail was the idea of an ad hoc group, RappTrails, which has privately raised more than sufficient funding — including a $150,000 grant from the PATH Foundation — to match the amount required to secure a Virginia Department of Transportation grant.
Jane Whitfield, who is spearheading the collaborative effort by RappTrails, Rappahannock County, the Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission, and VDOT to build the trail, said “misinformation” about the trail currently exists in the county. She reiterated: “No county tax dollars are budgeted to be used for the trail construction or maintenance. A maintenance fund is being developed by RappTrails, as well as a volunteer corps, to maintain the trail.”
Konick, in his sample ballot, encourages such “volunteerism” by county residents as a way to save money.
Parrish, meanwhile, spoke to this newspaper before learning the contents of Konick’s lengthy statement, released last evening after the News went to press.
“I welcome competition,” Parrish said in an interview. “It’s always good to have another point of view.”
“My biggest problem is that I wouldn’t want what [Konick] says to disparage my credibility,” he continued. “He doesn’t mention me by name, but in general he intimates that we’re wasting money and hiring too many people.”
Indeed, in his sample ballot, unlike in last evening’s statement, Konick didn’t mention Parrish by name. Instead, he criticized the “out of control county administrative staff and payroll spending: In just one year county admin went from three full-time employees to five full-time and five part-time employees.”
Responded Parrish: “He doesn’t mention the fact that we had two people quit who were wearing three hats — each! He puts out some false figures.”
“The other thing,” added the supervisor, “is I spent seventy dollars on my first campaign and zero on my second campaign, and I’ve never taken a dime of any contributions. And I don’t want to have the expense and hassle of a campaign.”
But, Parrish added: “I feel like if there is any kind of false information [leveled against me] I need to fight that, set it straight.”
In light of Konick’s lengthy statement last evening taking Parrish to task on several fronts, the incumbent supervisor will now no doubt begin that campaign “fight.”
Konick has already come under sharp criticism this year from several supervisors, Mike Biniek in particular, for “preying upon the county and its taxpayers” through his repeated trademark court filings against the Rappahannock County government.
“I think he’s . . . almost blackmailing us,” charged Biniek, referring to a court petition and other litigation filed by Konick recently against the county. The supervisor alleged that Konick was “taking liberties with his license to be a lawyer.”
Konick, speaking to this newspaper last February, fired back at the board he’s now campaigning to join, citing its “arrogant refusal to accept responsibility for their own poor judgment and their bad decisions and attempts to blame it on others.”
Apart from campaigning door-to-door, Konick will also spend what time there is until Election Day seeking financial contributions to support his write-in bid. His mailing address for donations is included in a fundraising letter currently being distributed by supporter Michael A. Cioffi of Castleton.
“Dave Konick is running, as a write-in, against Chris Parrish,” Cioffi writes. “I realize we have asked for your financial support of Christine Smith for the same position [challenging supervisor Mike Biniek] in the Piedmont District. We are asking again for your monetary support of Dave. His address is below. Please make your check out to him and send it to the address below as soon as possible . . . Please be as generous as you can. This election is critical.”