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