New year, new election: Top county seats up for grabs in 2019

Compton, Goff, Knick running for reelection; Lesinski, Frazier undecided

Numerous Rappahannock County government positions are up for election this Nov. 5, including Sheriff, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Treasurer, Commissioner of Revenue, and three Board of Supervisor seats and three School Board Member seats respectively in the districts of Hampton, Jackson and Wakefield.

The filing deadline to become a candidate is June 11.

Sheriff Connie S. Compton, who has more than 30 years of law enforcement service to Rappahannock County, told this newspaper that she will certainly be seeking a fourth term. She was first elected sheriff a dozen years ago, and was easily reelected by county voters in 2011 and 2015.

In her first campaign, Compton outperformed fellow candidates Chris Williams and J.C. Welch, capturing 43 percent of the vote. In 2011, she handily defeated Sperryville resident and law enforcement veteran Anthony “Andy” Berry, Sr., winning 78 percent support. In her last election she again outdistanced Berry, securing 72 percent of almost three-thousand votes cast.

Art Goff was first elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for Rappahannock County in 2011, replacing longtime office holder Peter Luke, who had announced his retirement that year. Goff, who resides in Ben Venue, ran unopposed in 2011 and 2015.

“Yes, I am definitely running for reelection,” Goff told the News, hoping Rappahannock voters “will send me back. I love my job as Commonwealth’s Attorney. It is my dream job. I wanted it since 1997 and I finally got it.”

Goff is chief prosecutor for the county, representing the government in its criminal cases. He is charged with investigating crimes, deciding whether or not to bring charges against suspects, negotiating plea bargains, and trying cases before judges or juries. Given Rappahannock’s small population, he also serves as County Attorney, an arduous task that’s become even more time consuming with repeated lawsuits filed since 2016 against the county alleging violations of FOIA and COIA.

Treasurer Debra Knick, at the same time, is “absolutely” running for reelection. She’s responsible for all county finances; billing, collecting, and disbursing taxes and other funds; and may administer banking or investment services. Knick, who lives outside Washington, was appointed some five years ago to replace Frances Foster, who held the county post for more than a half-century. She ran unopposed in the special 2014 election and faced no opposition during the 2015 election.

“I look forward to it and am excited about it,” Knick said of another potential term as Treasurer.

The commissioner of revenue, Sharon Dodson, will not be running for reelection this year, revealing to the Rappahannock News this week that she is stepping down before her current term ends, effective March 1. As the chief assessing officer for Rappahannock, she is responsible for determining the value of property for tax purposes, identifying property and its owners, listing property values on the assessment roll, and applying legal exemptions.

“I will be retiring in March 2019 because of family circumstances,” she said.

In the 2015 election, Dodson, who resides in Flint Hill, defeated Marlina Lee of Castleton and Christa Weeks of Washington in order to replace Beverly Atkins, who held the position for nearly 30 years before she retired. Dodson won an impressive 68 percent of the vote in that election.

The Board of Supervisors serve four year terms and are responsible for the legislative, administrative, and financial aspects of the county’s government. BOS seats up for election include the districts of Hampton, represented by John Lesinski; Jackson, filled by longtime board member Ron Frazier; and Wakefield, from which Roger Welch serves as chairman.

“I will probably make my mind up as I get closer to the filing date,” Lesinski told the News this week. A former school board chair, Lesinski in 2015 was the top vote getter for his seat being vacated by Bryant Lee, outdistancing Keir Whitson, J. Newbill Miller, and last-minute write-in candidate Roger Cordani.

Lesinski has been the target of ongoing lawsuits surrounding accusations of conflict of interest and, along with other BOS members, violating the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

In his last election, Frazier, the longest serving of the five current supervisors, defeated then-school board representative Amy Hitt, capturing more than 61 percent of the votes.

“Not yet,” Frazier replied Wednesday afternoon, when asked if he’s made up his mind whether to seek reelection.

Welch did not reveal his future plans, although Supervisor Chris Parrish suggested at this week’s BOS meeting that this would be Welch’s last year on the board. Welch in 2015 edged Chester Gap Fire Department Chief Todd Brown, who campaigned as a write-in candidate.

Three School Board seats are also the ballot this year, including Hampton, which is currently filled by Lucy Ann “Pud” Maeyer; Wakefield, held by Chris Ubben; and Jackson, which is home to board chair John Wesley Mills.

“I think I will do it one more time,” Maeyer said this week, while Ubben replied: “I have every intention of seeking another term on the School Board. I hope that in my time on the Board that I have made a positive difference and hope to continue to work on safety, facilities, workforce readiness, and student peers/anti-bullying.”

Board chair Wes Mills, at the same time, says “Yes, I am planning on running again.”

In addition, one seat is up for grabs in 2019 on the Soil and Water Conservation District Board.

According to Rappahannock County Registrar of Voters Kimberly P. McKiernan, interested candidates for any of the seats can learn about requirements to file by calling or visiting her office on Gay Street. Complete information and applicable forms can also be printed from the Virginia Department of Elections website, found under the banner “Candidate/PAC Info.”

McKiernan says while there is a June 11 deadline to file paperwork including petitions (containing a minimum of 125 signatures), “we strongly encourage candidates to submit them as soon as possible so the required number of petition signatures are verified.”

“They can start submitting paperwork at any time,” she says.

McKiernan encourages candidates to make certain petition signers “write clearly, and not use a PO box as their address.” A physical address is required, she says, “because that determines what district a person is qualified to vote in.”

While it’s optional, signatories can make verification easier by including the last four digits of Social Security numbers, which can be quickly matched with information in the state’s database. This is most useful in cases where a person’s handwriting isn’t legible, she says.

Otherwise, McKiernan says she has no inkling surrounding who may or may not be running for office come November.

“I lay low,” she laughs. “I just conduct the election.”

About John McCaslin 357 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.

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