Letter: Stop the ‘machine’; vote for Hagstrom

As Nov. 2 draws near, many Rappahannock County residents may not be aware that there are three contenders for the Clerk of Circuit Court position. Although all three candidates appear to be duly qualified, Paul Hagstrom is the best choice when voters cast their ballots next week. For many of us who have known Paul for years, we are confident that he can, and will, conduct the daily business of the Clerk of Circuit Court with the utmost integrity, reliability and intellect. Add to this most-important foundation his advanced degrees, people skills and hawkish attention to detail, and you will recognize the essence of a perfect candidate.

If elected, Paul will help retire the “Harry Byrd Election Machine” system of passing down elected positions. One tool used to perpetuate the “machine” is to have an elected official resign near the end of a term, then appoint another insider to fill that position until the next election. Meanwhile, the appointee absorbs the status of “incumbent,” learns the nuances of the position, has an abundance of exposure to the voters in the county and establishes name recognition advantage in the next election.

No doubt, tenured employees are valuable assets in government and business. But in elected office, tenure does not, and should not, guarantee an automatic win.

I am in no way trying to disparage Peggy Ralph; she is a fine person and a qualified candidate. But the time has come to stop machine politics in Rappahannock County. On Nov. 2, I urge you to vote for Paul Hagstrom as the new Clerk of Circuit Court.

David T. Kerr

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1 Comment

  1. Mr. Kerr does not know of what he speaks and his inaccurate commentary in the form of his letter is misleading . . . no, downright wrong — but his style is so typical of the scurrilous political environment in which we live. He thinks it is advantageous to make such outrageous charges without allowing me or Mrs. Ralph to respond in a public and timely manner.

    If Mr. Kerr knew about what he was speaking, he would not have insulted me by implying that I am/was a part of Byrd Machine politics. Nothing could be further from the truth. He would have known that when I was appointed by Judges Snead and Penn in 1977, the devotees of the Byrd Machine obviously had endless indigestion for a long time. I was not their choice and it was well known that I was not a supporter of the Byrd Machine or its politics. In my opinion, it was very courageous of the judges to appoint me. I suspect they got an earful thereafter.

    Further, if I, or the now-defunct Byrd Machine, would have wanted to give Mrs. Ralph the advantage he implies, I would not have retired until later in this year. That, of course, is not how it happened. I retired on March 1.

    Either Mr. Kerr wants to stir up trouble in an unprofessional manner or someone is using him to spread inaccurate information. I regret to see this level of negative politics in our county.

    Shame, shame Mr. Kerr. Before you make outrageous allegations, you should get your facts right. And you should consider all of the Constitutional Officers who have served in the past 35 years and tell me which ones you believe ascended to their seat by virtue of Byrd Machine politics. Just think about it. None. Not one.

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