Races come into the homestretch

Hayden for Bedford sheriff

I have worked with or known all three of the candidates for Bedford County sheriff at some point in time from 1984 to 1987 and 1997 to 2012. I started as a deputy sheriff in 1984 and returned in 1997 under Sheriff Mike Brown and Capt. Kent Robey and served as a sworn reserve deputy in the patrol division and the tactical division.

I commend Sheriff Brown for his hard work and contributions to Bedford County, but I’m confident that if the residents of Bedford County give Capt. Tim Hayden the opportunity that he deserves, he will continue to improve or maintain the standards which Sheriff Brown has implemented to make the schools, the deputies’ duties and Bedford County a safe environment or workplace.

Thirty-four years ago, he was hired as the second black deputy sheriff, who later became the first black investigator and currently captain. Hayden displays the perseverance and resilience for the position, has a strong work ethic and family values and has an outstanding relationship with the youth in the county.

I know that Hayden will not let politics or party affiliation bound him from reaching out to either party for the best interests of Bedford County. I assure you he will focus on the needs of residents in all areas of the county equally, with an open mind and a listening ear. His staff will work diligently and vigilantly with local, state and federal agencies against drug trafficking, drugs in the schools and crime in the county.

I am impressed with his ideas to maintain a fiscal dudget that coincides with the needs of the department and employees, eliminates wasteful and unnecessary expenses and his determination to place more SROs in the schools and deputies on patrol. I truly believe Hayden and his staff will make every effort to recruit and hire qualified applicants which reflect the county for which it serves and will hold each employee accountable for their actions and their duties.

So, I’m asking the residents of Bedford to think clearly about your decision and definitely vote in this election. Don’t let political affiliation or the bureaucracy that continues to divide us cause a hasty decision.

Let’s unite, “Let’s Try Hayden” and give the Bedford Sheriff’s Office and the residents of this county the best candidate for the position of sheriff.



Leamy for Bedford schools post

I taught biology at Jefferson Forest High School for many years and am familiar with the qualities we need in a School Board member.

In District 7 in Bedford County, Martin Leamy, who is running to represent the voters in this district, has the knowledge, experience, understanding and concern for the community to bring about the needed changes in Bedford County Public Schools.

He is from Bedford and understands the needs of the community. After serving as a major with the U.S. Army, he chose to raise his son in the place where he grew up and to give back to his community. He also currently holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Virginia State Guard.

He has been a member of the School Board for the pasts four years. He believes in representing the needs of his constituents, while fighting for equal curriculum and facilities division wide. He wants to preserve the community’s elementary schools, restore employee morale and attract and retain quality teachers. He believes the district’s young people need to be equipped with 21st century technology skills, exposed to hands-on, real life simulations, modeled the ability to work with others and to think creatively. He not only values the district’s early college and governors schools; he wants to strengthen career and technical education, STEM and the related arts programs.

He needs your vote to bring about the changes that will move the district forward and ensure that young people in Bedford County schools are ready for their futures. Vote Martin Leamy for Bedford County School Board in District 7.



Elect Hairston to Bedford board

I met Georgia Hairston when she became principal at Otter River Elementary. My son’s time at ORES was the highlight of his education in Bedford County Public Schools.

Hairston created an atmosphere there that made it, as one educator described “a private school in a public system.” She ran that school with a professionalism dedicated to only one goal — the very best for the children who passed through her doors. I never heard any of the teachers have anything but praise for her, and the SOL scores were of the best in the county with Hairston in place.

While Hairston was my son’s principal, I got involved in both Otter River and in the school system.

I saw what happened with the wonderful community schools that were closed, and then I vowed to her that it would never be allowed to happen to Otter River.

Now, my son has graduated, and Georgia Hairston has retired. She’s still my neighbor, and she is my friend.

She is undoubtedly the exact person to serve District 5 as our School Board representative. She’s been on both sides of the fence; she is a life-long educator and administrator and she is devoted to our county’s education system. I know of no one currently running or serving that can match her credentials.

Do all the children in the Bedford County Public School system a favor. Get to the polls on Nov. 5, and elect Georgia Hairston to do what’s best for them.



Reelect Byron to House seat

Honesty, integrity and work ethics are values I consider when voting for a candidate. These traits are firm foundations for leadership. Undeterred proficiency in resolving issues is an equally strong factor.

Del. Kathy Byron, representing the 22nd House District, surpasses those qualifications. First elected in 1997, Byron is a proven champion of the citizens and businesses she represents. Thanks to her determination, a recent achievement on a difficult issue will result in critically needed broadband service 2020.

As vice chairwoman of the House of Delegates Commerce and Labor Committee, Finance Committee and House Science and Technology Committee, she keeps her finger on the pulse in gaining information and resources to move an issue from need to reality. Over the years, there is an impressive list of bills Byron led and ultimately won for her constituents and the state of Virginia.

If one were to question how Byron allocates her time, I can offer insight. When not in Richmond, she devotes time to businesses, civic organizations and public meetings. She is a powerful spokesperson on legislative issues, providing awareness and understanding.

She works endless hours to increase knowledge and gain support, each vital for positive results.

You’ll see Byron, shovel in hand, at ground breakings, congratulating each business while encouraging economic growth. She can be found at early morning and late evening meetings. The time in between, serving a host of committees which include Virginia Workforce Development, Tobacco Revitalization Commission, Unemployment Compensation Commission, American Legislation Exchange Council, Manufacturing Development Commission, Joint Commission on Science and Technology and the Broadband Advisory Council.

I recall an impressive moment during a Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake effort when Byron, unannounced, dressed in work gear, rolled her sleeves and assisted our volunteer group haul lake debris.

I believe that a campaign should be run on the merits and credentials of each candidate, not on exploiting a perceived “chink in the armor” of an opponent. On Nov. 5, I’ll be voting for Kathy Byron.



Hairston for Bedford school post

I am officially announcing my endorsement for Georgia Hairston for the District 5 seat on the Bedford County School Board.

Hairston’s education career spans over 37 years. She has served as classroom teacher and principal. She has served in administration in each school zone of Bedford County. I believe her experience in education will enable her to effectively serve the children and parents of Bedford County as the District 5 School Board member. I am also of the belief that she will work to establish a collaborative relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board on matters of joint interest for all students of Bedford County Public Schools.



Bedford County Board of Supervisors

Byron for House of Delegates

Del. Kathy Bryon, who represents the 22nd House of Delegates District, has been my representative in Richmond for many years.

Each time a group has gone to Richmond and asked to see her or she has been asked to provide information in a forum or privately, she has always been welcoming and willing to explain voters’ questions and listen to their concerns.

Her work with what is commonly called “Surprise Billing” regarding outrageous charges/requirements for health care has been outstanding. She has worked hard to see that our health needs are met in the most advantageous way for the public.

In fact, she has served as the chairwoman of the Virginia Health Insurance Reform Commission. Also, she has chaired the Broadband Advisory Council which reports annually to the governor and the Joint Commission on Technology and Science; the purpose of that council is to expedite deployment of broadband access and reduce the cost of that access as well. She also serves on many other committees and always works for the benefit of her constituents.

Bryon is one of the finest representatives we have in the House of Delegates! Let’s go to the polls on Nov. 5 and reelect her to serve District 22!



Gunter’s experience invaluable

Supervisor Eddie Gunter, who represents the Concord District on the Campbell County Board of Supervisors, has an opponent this year in his bid for reelection. His opponent is reportedly telling voters that a change is needed.

This immediately reminded what happened six years ago in the Timberlake and Rustburg districts. Two new candidates in those districts, with no public service experience, convinced voters that a change was needed, and they elected Eric Zehr in Rustburg and Mike Rousseau in Timberlake.

Both followed their own local political party agendas rather than that of the people of their districts. They never learned what it meant to be a public servant, and consequently the voteres turned them both out of office four years later.

Concord District voters don’t want to make the same mistake by electing an unknown with no public service experience. Gunter’s 28 years on the Board of Supervisors is a wealth of experience and knowledge the county cannot afford to lose.



Hill for sheriff in Nelson County

Recently, two individuals in Arrington were terrorizing the community with constant reckless behavior on a motorcycle and in an automobile. After confronting this behavior with the individuals and making a reasonable request that they abandon this behavior, I then began to call the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office every time I witnessed these individuals breaking the law.

The department responded each time in a prompt and professional manner until the problematic behavior was addressed and put to rest. Sheriff David Hill and Maj. Larry Cindrick came to my home and provided my wife and me empathy. Both of these officers, in a very professional manner, outlined the steps the department would take to rectify the problem we were experiencing.

Hill, Cindrick and the deputies of the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office did as was promised and addressed the problem until it stopped. Also Deputy Chris Justus, of the sheriff’s department, was very helpful when called to our home when the behavior escalated from dangerous to even more dangerous and invasive. I greatly appreciate the professional, prompt and comprehensive service that Hill and his department provided.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Sheriff Hill for putting a resource officer in every school in Nelson County, as well as his efforts to arrest and take to trial individuals who were bringing large amounts of methamphetamines into the county.

I will support Sheriff Hill in his upcoming reelection to office because I have personally witnessed the difference he has made in Nelson County to secure the peace and tranquility that we should expect.



Clark for Campbell County sheriff

While I live in Appomattox and cannot vote in Campbell County, I am most honored to endorse and highly recommend Whit Clark for election as the next sheriff of Campbell County. Having served in law enforcement at the city, state, and federal level for over 50 years, I know that we are blessed in Virginia to have many honest, dedicated, professional officers throughout this area. However, only the most experienced and best qualified should be elevated to serve as chief or sheriff.

As a retired captain and division commander for Division III of the Virginia State Police, I have known Clark for over 20 years and have had the privilege of working cooperatively with him on many occasions. During his service with both the Lynchburg Police Department and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, he has proven himself to be most capable, knowledgeable and skillful in confronting the many challenges encountered by law enforcement officers today. Whit has genuine concern and compassion for his fellow human beings and has worked cooperatively with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the best interest of the citizens he serves. He is a role model for his fellow deputies and other law enforcement officers.

Please join me in supporting Whit Clark for election as Sheriff of Campbell County.



Editor’s note: The writer retired as a captain and division commander with the Virginia State Police.

Parker, Davis in Bedford

Question: Who is running Bedford County government?

As an observer of local government and current events, I have noticed a concerning trend in Bedford County: investigations and lawsuits. In discussions with other Bedford residents, many others have made this same observation. We’re asking the same questions.

By our count, there are no less than four ongoing or recently settled lawsuits and/or investigations in the last two years.

In 2018, former county Tourism Director Jerry Craig’s wrongful termination lawsuit against Bedford County was a local scandal heavily rooted in cronyism and political retribution.

Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Doug Schuch and members of the School Board are being sued for sexual discrimination by former Deputy Superintendent Cherie Whitehurst. That lawsuit is currently progressing through the court calendar. What happened to Whitehurst is appalling.

Schuch and the Bedford County School Board are also currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights for matters pertaining to race. One suspects state and federal governments are also cognizant of yet another more recent incident of racial insensitivity at Jefferson Forest High School.

On July 17, various TV stations and their websites reported the latest development — yet another lawsuit against Bedford County. In this instance, the suit was filed against the county leadership and the Bedford County Fire and Rescue. The nature of the $10 million federal lawsuit? A culture of sexual harassment.

While on the one hand, Bedford residents recognize and appreciate the day to day service our local government employees provide — most of which we never read about in the paper or witness first hand. For that work performed, Bedford residents should give thanks. We should all be appreciative of our teachers, our first responders and those who handle the ongoing business that make government work. On the other, however, a reasonable and informed person could understandably ask: Is this a typical number of high profile, meaningful and potentially expensive lawsuits and/or investigations? Is this acceptable? Is this normal?

At first blush, the number strikes me as high — especially over a two year period. One suit? Unfortunate, but it happens. Two? Hmm ... Three? Uh-oh? Four? Oh, come on, really? Based on what is happening in New London, a reasonable person could expect Liberty University to sue Bedford County for essentially flip-flopping on its interpretation and guidance on what Liberty can do with the old New London drag strip.

Worse than the number, though, is the nature of these legal matters: racism, sexual abuse, sexual harrassment, incompetence, “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY-ism) and political payback. All of this leaves me asking even more questions — none of which is more important than this one: Who is (or has been) running Bedford County, both the county administration and the schools?

If the problem lies with the former county administrator and the current superintendent, any informed and reasonable person should care whether or not we are electing the most qualified people to both the Bedford County Board of Superivors and the Bedford County School Board. They, after all, are the ones who made these hires. They’re the ones who should be held accountable when improper or, worse, illegal workplace behavior occurs.

So, again, I ask: Who is running Bedford County? And is their job performance of the quality we deserve? If so, please convince me. I have an open mind. But I do have questions and concerns. And I know many other Bedford residents do as well. It is time for a change in leadership on both the Bedford County Board of Supervisors and the Bedford County Public School adminstration.

Tammy Parker and Bob Davis can be part of new leadership if elected to District 7 supervisor and District 6 supervisor, respectively.



Editor’s note: The writer is a former member of the Bedford County Board of Supervisors who represented District 5.

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