Letter: On being organized

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010, seems like a long time ago but it was on that day at a pleasant gathering of friends discussing upcoming events in Rappahannock County I was encouraged and decided to take the necessary steps to seek the elected office of Clerk of Circuit Court. My first question was: Where do I start?

On Monday morning, April 5, I visited the Registrar’s Office where Nancy Newlin generously took the time to give me the official “Running for Office in Rappahannock County 101” course. Before I left her office with an armload of forms and in trepidation of what appeared to be a complicated process, she once again reminded me, by underlining the date with a red pencil on the 2010 Election Calendar that the deadline for all candidates to file all required forms is 5 p.m., August 20, 2010.

This was the official Virginia State Election Calendar and the date of revision was Jan. 11, 2010. That was the final revision for this election cycle. Nancy also pointed out the extraordinarily helpful Web site at www.sbe.virginia.gov that contains every “jot and tittle” of information necessary to be placed on the ballot for an election in Virginia.

As an independent (non-party) candidate, I was required to file a Declaration of Candidacy, Petitions of Qualified Voters, Certification of Candidate Qualification, Statement of Economic Interests and a Statement of Organization of a Candidate. In addition, campaign finance reports must be submitted on June 1, July 15, Sept. 15, Oct. 15 and Oct. 25.

I started my signature petition April 8. My honorable opponent Peggy Ralph and I understood and have followed these requirements to the letter of the law; as a result our names are on the Nov. 2 ballot. History has shown, with few exceptions, that write-in candidates rarely win. The rare exception that comes to mind is Strom Thurmond, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1954 as a write-in candidate from South Carolina.

Last week Diane Bruce wrote a very poignant letter addressing the seriousness of the business conducted daily at the Circuit Court Clerk office. Her letter was an additional challenge in helping me recognize the skills, experience and knowledge needed to be an effective Clerk of Circuit Court. They also validated the visits I had with Chaz W. Evans-Haywood, Clerk of Circuit Court for Harrisonburg and Rockingham counties, and Jennifer R. Sims, who holds the same post in Warren County.

Unlike most elected offices, the Clerk of Circuit Court does not have a political agenda. The clerk cannot promise lower taxes, Internet service for the county or a drive-through window at the library. However, I am up to the challenge made by Diane Bruce of the necessity for accuracy, immediacy, seriousness, efficiency and keeping myself up-to-date on the nuances of the law. The charge I have to keep is serving the residents of Rappahannock County.

Thank you for this opportunity to ask the voters of Rappahannock County for your vote on Nov. 2. You’ll find my name on the ballot.

Paul Hagstrom

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