Know your candidates — Town of Washington

Below are edited profiles of 2018 candidates for the Town of Washington government. Two candidates — Frederic F. Catlin for Mayor and Gail K. Swift for Treasurer — are running unopposed. Seven additional candidates are seeking to fill five open seats on the Town Council.

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Frederic F. “Fred” Catlin, Office of Mayor

Fred Catlin has lived in Washington for five years, serving as Chair of the Planning Commission and on Town Council. He is owner of and a teacher at Albemarle Montessori Children’s Community. He’s been in the education field for forty years.

Why do you want to serve as mayor?

I’ve been committed to public service all my life. I have the strategic vision, leadership skills and experience, and energy to help Washington sustain its unique character among American small towns, embracing its history while helping guide a thoughtful plan for its future.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

The town is at a unique point in its history — one in which we could seize on opportunities that could benefit the town, sustain its unique nature, and improve the quality of life for residents.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

Balancing preservation and increasing vibrancy, which involves three facets: providing necessary infrastructure to maintain quality of life, building consensus through thoughtful study and growth planning, and preserving the town’s beauty and unique character as a national treasure.

What in your background helps address that?

My experience has provided me with an understanding of the town, its strengths and challenges, its governance, and its future.

*****

Gail K. Swift, Office of Treasurer

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Gail Swift recently retired from a career in hospitality. She has lived in the town since 2011, is a member of the Town Planning Commission, chairs the Town Administration and Finance Task Force, and is a member of the Town Infrastructure Task Force. She was appointed to the County Economic Revitalization Committee in 2007 while residing in Sperryville.

Why do you want to serve as treasurer?

To give back to the community I live in. I believe my experience with managing large budgets will continue to move the Town forward in a positive way.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

In addition to accomplishing some current infrastructure work, I hope to ensure that we have a strong enough infrastructure contingency fund for other large items.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

Foremost on the list for the Town is a second well. The task forces mentioned above are assisting the Town Council with compiling a list of other vital issues and preparing recommendations for the Town Council to consider.

What in your background would help address that?

I have managed six figure budgets, including reviewing and negotiating contracts with vendors and clients.

*****

J.R. “Jerry” Goebel, Jr., Town Council

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Jerry has lived in town with his wife Teri for 20 years. He was appointed to the Council in 2001 and elected Treasurer in 2002, a position he’s held for 16 years. He drives a Rappahannock County Public Schools bus. In a previous life, he worked for First Virginia Bank & BB&T for 29 years.

Why do you want to serve on the council?

I feel it is important, especially with so many new faces running, to be there to offer insight and history.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

I’d like to see the town get a new back-up well online. With fewer than 200 people, I think we must keep the government small, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

Besides a new back-up well, maintaining the town’s current infrastructure, mainly the water system and the wastewater system.

What in your background would help address that?

My experience as a banker and my years of service as Treasurer on the Town Council have allowed me to stay focused on fiscal responsibilities. I’ve been involved with many infrastructure projects, including the construction of the wastewater system, new reservoir, and the purchase and subsequent selling of Avon Hall, in addition to selling four acres of town property to the county for its expansion.

*****

Henry R. “Hank” Gorfein, Town Council

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Hank Gorfein, age 80 on Election Day and in his words “still of sound mind and body.” He was a tenured member of instructional staff at Queens College, New York City. He was a technical director in the professional theatre for 28 years. He recently moved into the Town of Washington from Harris Hollow, one mile outside the town, where he had lived for more than 42 years. He owned and operated Rush River Vineyards for 18 years.

Why do you want to serve on the council?

I have always encouraged others to participate in performing civic duties. Now it is my time to step up to the plate and do what I have always encouraged others to do.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

I would like to help in starting a revitalization of the town. When I move here 43 years ago the town population was double, with young people and children. The town needs to promote and support small business.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

Getting the post office and perhaps the library back in town. Washington is the county seat and is where these institutions belong.

What in your background would help address that?

I was very successful in the theatre. However I always said I was only as good as my help. That’s why I am the old guy seeking new ideas. I can meet deadlines, read plans and write specs. I am street smart, I have a good sense of humor and I listen.

*****

Mary Ann Kuhn, Town Council

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Mary Ann Kuhn, proprietor of Middleton Inn, has been a town resident since 1994, leaving behind a journalism career in Washington, D.C. She was appointed to the Town’s Planning Commission in 2005 and elected to the Town Council in 2010, eventually becoming vice-mayor. She was s co-chair of the Avon Hall Task Force and redesigned the town website. She serves on two town task forces, business development and tourism. She’s been editor of the Rappahannock News, was vice president of the Rappahannock Historical Society, vice president of RAWL, treasurer of RappCats, and on the board of RAAC and Friends of the Library.

Why do you want to serve on the council?

Serving on council is a way for me to give back to the community that has supported and encouraged me over the past 24 years. I care deeply about our town and would like to help shape its future.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Seeing that the Post Office is kept in town, that the Country Cafe and its customers remain here, that vacant buildings are functioning as new businesses, that more residents and families move in because of the town’s housing plan, that Piedmont Avenue is brought into town, that the town expands its boundaries minimally to allow for more housing, that the meals and lodging tax is raised, that the town’s infrastructure is improved, that the town’s coffers runneth over because of tourism dollars.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

Preserving the soul of the town, how to walk it through its growing stages without losing its historic character and charm and sense of smallness.

What in your background would help address that?

I learned from a wise woman that before I tackled Middleton Inn that I should wait a few months and “feel the soul of your place.” I have carried that with me to this day. We can look at all our borders to see what development has done to other towns. Yes we want the town to be more vibrant with more residents and families, but we have to take small steps or we may regret losing forever what brought us here in the first place.

*****

Katharine Weld “Kat” Leggett, Town Council

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Arriving 50 years ago and raising three children here, Leggett remains in love with Washington. She was elected to Town Council two years ago, having been appointed one year before that. She has also served on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.

Why do you want to serve on the council?

I have learned how important community involvement is to moving forward in preserving this lovely historic place and at the same time making it livable for the 21st century.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Some of the more urgent issues facing the town are the need for homes that are affordable for the young and elderly, how to keep up with and provide for growth, including updating our water and sewer systems and the town budget.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

One of the items on my agenda is for the Town Council to work more closely with the county on such issues as growth, tourism, and other concerns.

*****

Patrick J. O’Connell, Town Council

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O’Connell, a resident of the area for fifty years and business owner in Little Washington for forty years, has served as a member of the architectural review board for twenty years and was chairman for twelve. This December marks his ninth year serving on the Town Council. He is a tireless supporter of the beautiful town and county we call home.

Why do you want to serve on the council?

I have enjoyed serving on the council for the last 9 years. As the largest employer in the county with a half century of community involvement, I feel that I am able to contribute a singularly unique perspective to the council.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Much progress has been made during the last four years and I look forward to continuing the excellent work of our current mayor and council. Forging an alliance with town residents and local business owners is something I look forward to continuing to do. We have made great strides in boosting tourism throughout the county. I enjoy collaboration with mutually beneficial outcomes.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

Curiously, the town of Washington can be seen as a microcosm for what is taking place in the larger political arena of Big Washington. There is sometimes an unnecessary and counterproductive divisiveness which prevents solving problems quickly and amiably. Fortunately this situation has greatly improved during the tenure of our current mayor and council.

What in your background would help address that?

Running a multifaceted business with a diverse workforce and a demanding clientele has provided a wealth of insight into creating a culture of trust and collaboration. In my view, successful communication is the key to solving all problems.

*****

Bradley C. Schneider, Town Council

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Brad Schneider, 62, is a semi retired environmental engineer working as an international environmental and renewable energy consultant and developer. He has a degree in environmental engineering from Norwich University and has worked in the energy and environmental industry for 40 years. Brad has lived in the Town of Washington for 15 years. He has served on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals.

Why do you want to serve on the council?

I joined the Town Council with the interest of helping to guide the town on various issues and into the future, as well as preserving its character, charm and history. This means wrestling with possible solutions to each individual and intertwined issue. Rappahannock is much like Vermont where I grew up and I want to preserve that, while at the same time helping to see the area grow and evolve.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

I would like to improve the operations of the town’s water and wastewater system, improving efficiency while lowering operating costs. I would also like to see some increases in the town’s population and number of houses without adversely impacting its character.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

It’s number of residents. We need to have a residential population that is here full time, active in the community and contributing to its vitality. The bulk of the town’s income is from meals and lodging tax, so increasing businesses is important, but not at the expense of alienating residents. Another important issue is the town’s infrastructure, water and wastewater systems.

What in your background would help address that?

As an environmental engineer I have a wide breadth of knowledge and practical experience in how to make improvements. I feel I bring a patient oversight, acknowledging that sometimes changes have to be made that are not popular, but once implemented are acknowledged as good. I can stand up and say no to a change that I feel would be detrimental in the long term.

*****

Joseph J. Whited, Town Council

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Joe Whited, 39, is a consultant with the Department of Defense. A Navy combat veteran who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he is a former U.S. congressional staffer, and senior intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He attended Georgetown University and the Naval War College. He has lived in the town of Washington since 2013.

Why do you want to serve on the council?

I grew up in a small town and consider myself lucky to have been able to find my way back to a small town and rural community. I want to see that way of life preserved. I also want to make sure we are prepared for the future, finding new ways to encourage both new business and residents to join our community.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

The successful conclusion of an agreement with the Post Office has to be a priority. I also want to see us modernize the town bureaucracy; and ensure we have the tools to quickly and efficiently contact everyone in event of emergency, and share basic information about events, town meetings, etc.

What is the most urgent issue(s) facing the town?

Drilling a new well for the town, continuing to work with the Post Office on a new location, modernizing our water and sewer management facilities, and making town offices more accessible.

What in your background would help address that?

Over the course of my service in the military, in government, and on Capitol Hill I have built a reputation for bringing folks together and building consensus. Consensus building is needed in our government, particularly in these divisive times, and will be essential as we preserve our past and prepare for the future.

Staff/Contributed
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The Rappahannock News welcomes contributions from any and all members of the community. Email news and photos to editor@rappnews.com or call us at 540-675-3338.

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