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A Rockingham County political activist has recently been charged with 33 counts of theft, fraud, and forgery.  Less than 24 hours ago, James Madison University’s newspaper, The Breeze, first introduced to this story to the public in an article entitled “Student impersonator charged with credit card fraud”.  According to that piece, Andrew Jones, 18, of Broadway had allegedly stolen a handful of credit cards from JMU students and used these cards to purchase several thousands of dollars in assorted items.  Furthermore, the article states that JMU Police Investigator Doyle Hess tells us that Andrew has admitted using the cards.  Seems like a fairly routine open and shut type of case doesn’t it?

Ah, but that is where our tale takes a rather interesting turn.   Shortly after this story broke, hburgnews.com offered readers additional information, much of which was provided by Jones himself.  In this rendition, Jones stated that several members of the JMU College Republican community accuse him solely due to his homosexually.  Furthermore, Andrew claims to have knowledge and involvement regarding voter fraud in regard to some unspecified election.  Regrettably, these newest claims have spilled blood into the water, evoking an intense feeding frenzy and wild speculations from other local political activists on the hburgnews website.  As a result, I felt compelled to write about this matter.

Disappointingly, these new allegations have muddled an otherwise clear story.  The central issue at hand is whether or not Andrew Jones stole and used other people’s credit cards, not tales of corruption and discrimination.  Now is voter fraud a serious accusation?  Of course!  But such a claim merely distracts from the more pressing matter.  Even though admittedly much smaller in nature, this case is quickly shaping up to be like Harrisonburg’s political version of the O.J. Simpson circus trial.  Rather than focusing on the guilt or innocence of the person in question, our attention is drawn elsewhere.  We must not get caught up in this hoopla.  Regardless of these secondary issues, if Andrew is innocent, he must be cleared of all charges.  If, on the other hand, he is guilty, he must be punished according to the law.  Then, only once that central topic is dealt with, should we consider these other troubling matters.

Unfortunately or not, depending on your perspective, I believe the appearance of these red herrings will only serve to weaken his argument of innocence.  His bizarrely disappearing and reappearing Facebook account doesn’t do him any favors either.  Although gone now, his post telling friends not to worry due to a supposedly close friendship with the Commonwealth Attorney does much to discredit the possibility of a fair and impartial trial.  And the line, “I thought when they arrested me it was for voter fraud. I was shocked to find out that wasn’t [the reason]” is very disturbing.  More or less admitting complicity regarding voter fraud to a media source is a damning self-accusation in and of itself.

My words of warning to local political activists of all stripes are as follows:  Just because Andrew Jones happens to be Republican, that fact alone should not color your viewpoint either for him or against him.  His claims of fraud and discrimination might be completely true or they might be desperate attempts to deflect blame and attention.  I don’t wish to convict an innocent person nor do I want to see a guilty person vindicated.  Fortunately, neither you nor I are currently the judge or the jury, so the court of public opinion holds little value.  These central charges of theft, fraud, and forgery must be resolved first.  I’m glad that we live in a country where we have the opportunity to offer either support or condemnation to the accused, but never let politics get in the way of justice.

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Continuing our series on local politics and elections, I saw another sign today that sparked my interest.  While traveling down Port Republic Road in Harrisonburg, I came across an encampment of yard signs fluttering in the breeze.  Several were in support of Coffman for Council, others were for Baxter for school board, but a few were different.  Rather than encouraging citizens to vote for a candidate, it tells folks to vote against Carolyn Frank.

Strangely, as you can see, they do not bear the paid for and authorized tag line that other political signs display.  When I saw more of the signs on Neff Avenue as well, I stopped a local business to learn a bit more.  Although on their shopping center property, the business knew nothing of the signs.  They did not authorize them and did not know who placed them there.  Obviously some person or persons have a very strong dislike of Frank in order to go to such lengths as spending their own money for the signs.

Two questions linger, who and why.  Who made the signs?  Why does their creator find Carolyn Frank so objectionable?  I found this same question and a rather lengthy discussion on a recent article on hburgnews.com.  Apparently, a local developer by the name of Bruce Forbes created them.  Their discussion informs us that Mr. Forbes is someone who tries to buy and control politicians.  He assisted in Frank’s election efforts several years ago and turned against her when she wasn’t loyal to his designs.  Getting back to the signs themselves, although admittedly my knowledge of regarding laws for local elections are a bit shaky, I would expect that, like other political signs, they must bear the “paid for” tag line.  If that is indeed an unmet requirement, then the city should remove them as quickly as possible.

If Carolyn Frank, Bruce Forbes, any of their supporters or detractors, or anyone else who has some knowledge of this subject cares to comment further, I’m sure we would be interested in learning more.

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Note:  News courtesy of Senator Mark Obenshain and hburgnews.com.

A little while ago, Tony Wilt was declared the winner of the Republican nomination for the 26th district House of Delegates.  Although the official vote totals will not be released to the public for the sake of party unity, in total, 1597 votes were cast.  Being a numbers kind of guy, I would be greatly interested in seeing the percentages, especially how they differed in the city and the county, but I can appreciate the desire to end any potential divisiveness.

With this win, Mr. Wilt will face the Democratic nominee, Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner, in the June 15 special election.  With less than two months to go, I’m sure both candidates will be campaigning hard in order to claim the open seat.

So congratulations Mr. Wilt.  I expect many great and conservative things of you.  I also want to say congrats to both Mr. Elledge and Mr. Byrd.  Although I’ve never been a candidate myself, I know full well that campaigning is not an easy task.  It requires a will and a resolve that only a select few can muster.

I’ll post more news as it becomes available.

And on to June we go!

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Can you believe that the day has arrived so quickly?  Tomorrow, we will be selecting the nominee for the Republican Party here in the 26th district.  When I got home from work tonight, my inbox was stuffed with emails from the three candidates (The count stands at ten from 12:30 to 10:40 PM).  Believe it or not, I’m still undecided.  I haven’t had sufficient time to study the candidates and I still think the process was rushed.  Nevertheless, I’ll continue to read about them this evening and tomorrow morning so hopefully when 4:00 PM comes, I’ll be able to make an informed decision.

I plan to support whichever candidate I believe is the most conservative in the three key areas:  socially, fiscally, and constitutionally.  Of course I want a delegate who shares our valley values, but, in addition, I want a leader who will boldly patron conservative legislation.  So then, who is the best candidate?  To help with our decision, I’d like to share with you the responses the three candidates gave to the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.

SPECIAL EDITION–CANDIDATES FOR 26th House of Delegates District Answer Tea Party Questions

1. John Elledge

2. Tony Wilt

3. Ted Byrd

Please scroll down to read all answers.    Information Only.  The SVTPP Does Not Make Endorsements.

John Elledge Answers SVTPP Nine Questions


1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your background?
I am John Elledge and I am running to represent the 26th House District in the Virginia General Assembly.  Delegate Matt Lohr, re-elected this past November, will be vacating his position, leaving the seat open less than halfway through the term.  I am determined to fill his position because the citizens of the 26th District need a Delegate who can hit the ground running.  I know that I am the right man for the job.

I know the institution of the Virginia General Assembly because I worked ten years as a Legislative Assistant to former Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz.  I am the only candidate who knows the procedures and processes of the legislature.  I have drafted bills, monitored them, and developed a strategy to pass important legislation over those ten years.  I am aware of the ins and outs of the committee structure, and the tricks and setbacks that legislators face.  I know the players in Richmond and in the District, and I know the mysteries of the budgeting process.

My political values were developed under the guidance of Delegate Weatherholtz, who had a distaste for politics as usual.  He served 24 years as Rockingham County Sheriff.  During those years and during his service in the General Assembly, he made it a point of genuine pride to never spend his entire budget.  He was also a tough man who knew his own mind and did not give in easily to the pressures of the insiders in the political class.  It is my goal to emulate Glenn Weatherholtz in all these ways.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?
I will consider it an achievement every time I successfully work for the failure of government-expanding legislation proposed by a Democrat or a Republican.

I will consider it an achievement if I can make a dent in the status of the 26th District as a net exporter of resources.  I want to bring our fair share back home to be spent in our communities, not in the district of those who cater to expansive local governments in their districts.  I will work to fund core services of Education, Public Safety and Transportation, to relieve upward pressure on our local tax system.

I will proudly limit the amount of legislation I introduce each session.  Not every idea needs to become law.  What legislation I do introduce will have a priority of reducing the size of government.

3.  If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?
Yes, I will employ the latest technology to stay in touch with my constituents, to be as responsive and accessible as possible.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?
That we eliminate services that are not the core role of government.

That we resist the intrusion of the federal government into the province of the government of the Commonwealth, and that we demand that the federal government lives up to its obligations to all the citizens, like protecting our borders, and spend on core infrastructure like Interstate highways, rather than expansive social programs.

That we fund core services in a focused and efficient manner: Education, Public Safety, and Transportation.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?
It is too large.  Much of what makes it too large is the result of the imposition of unfunded mandates, like Medicaid and spending.  The current budget takes the Commonwealth back to the 2006 spending level, which were prosperous economic times.  We must prevent the budget from swelling back to its size before the recession.  We also need to see that a significant portion of revenue growth from the recovery goes to a Rainy Day Fund, and to repaying the frequently-raided Transportation fund.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?
Yes.

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?
Runaway spending
The imposition of mandates on states, especially unfunded mandates.
The Federal government’s failure/refusal to seal our borders.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment legislation such as, H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?
I absolutely support both these legislative efforts, and further support sound legal challenges to the Federal government’s imposition of its healthcare rules and firearms regulations on Virginians, recognizing that success in these challenges will probably require the Supreme Court’s reversal of bad precedent in terms of its Commerce Clause jurisprudence (Wickard vs, Filbrum) and the extension of its good decision in U.S. vs. Lopez, which found the Gun-Free School Zones Act unconstitutional as an application of the Commerce Clause.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?
This goes hand-in-hand with my views on question # 8.  The primary and fastest growing segment of the budget causing the explosion in spending has to do with unfunded mandates, especially Medicaid spending.  A forceful resistance to these impositions with the efforts of strong organizers and activists like the Tea Party groups working to change the makeup of Congress could do wonders to reduce this forced area of state spending.

Apart from that, I am generally supportive of Governor McDonnell’s approach to the planned cuts he offered before the General Assembly.

Tony Wilt Answers SVTPP Nine Questions

1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your platform?

My name is Tony Wilt and I’m vying for the Republican nomination to run for the 26th District House of Delegates seat.  I’ve never run for public office.  However, I’m excited about the prospect of representing the people of the 26th District.  Vickie and I have been married for 25 years and have a grown daughter and son.

I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am pro-life.  I believe the 2nd Amendment gives each qualifying citizen the right to keep and bear arms.  I was born, raised, and lived in the 26th District all my life, except for two brief times in California and North Carolina, while my dad served in the U.S. M.C.  I urge you to seek out those who know me.  My actions will speak out louder and truer than my words.  I trust that you will find that my actions and words are one in the same.

I’ve worked at Superior Concrete, Inc. for 30 years and am the President/General Manager.  I stand firm against any new taxes, regulations, mandates, and entitlements, and will fight to lessen or repeal current ones.  I believe in limited government intrusion in every aspect of our lives.  But along with that, I demand personal responsibility.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?

Greater freedom of government intrusion in our lives.

Re-evaluate the state budget for what is supported, and for how much.

Secure alternative sources of revenue, instead of raising taxes on hard-working Virginians.

3. If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?

Yes.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Out of control Federal government.

Efficiency of state and local governments.

Stagnant economy.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?

Too large.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?

Yes.    (This candidate submitted a signed and witnessed Taxpayer Protection Pledge with Americans for Tax Reform, that pledges he will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.)

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?

Disregard for the Constitution.

Ignoring national security and sovereignty.

Mandates passed on states and locales.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment Legislation such as H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?

Yes.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?

This is a tough one, I believe two-fold.  Every agency must strive for efficiency, but I don’t know if that will do the trick.  We must prioritize just what the government should be involved in, and cut the rest.  That definitely means operations within each agency, but maybe the agency itself.
Ted Byrd Answers SVTPP Nine Questions
1. Please provide a short essay that introduces you and your platform?
I am running for the Republican nomination for the 26th District of the House of Delegates, because I believe my experiences in Agriculture, Economic Development, Business, Transportation, and Local Government enable me to have a balanced perspective and will represent our community’s interest in Richmond.  I am committed to listen carefully to constituents and make decisions that will best address our local and state concerns.

2. Please describe the three most important achievements that you would like to accomplish for the citizens of the 26th District?
I would be a Champion of our local Family Farmers.
I would work hard to ensure we have a business climate that encourages the creation of jobs.
I would continue to strive for fair funding for our local schools to enable children to compete for future jobs.

3. If elected, will you hold frequent town hall meetings and tele-town hall meetings for the 26th District citizens?
Yes.

4. What are your three top concerns for the Commonwealth of Virginia?
We need to return to prioritizing state funding for our core services which are: public safety, education, and maintaining our road infrastructure.

5. Is the size of Virginia government and the Virginia 2010-2012 Budget: adequate, too large, or too small?
It is still too large.

6. Will you sign a “no-new taxes” pledge?
Yes.

7. What are your three top concerns at the Federal level?
National Debt.
National Security.
The massive size of the Federal government and its reach into each of our lives.

8. Do you vigorously support Virginia 10th Amendment Legislation such as H.B. 10 (Virginia Health Care Freedom Act) and H.B. 69 (Virginia Firearms Freedom Act)?
I do support the state of Virginia Federal lawsuit to uphold Virginia’s Health Care Freedom Act and await the ruling from the federal court.  I was unable to get information on H.B. 69.*

* Newsletter Editor’s note:  While H.B. 10 passed in the recent legislative session, H.B. 69 was sent to an unfavorable committee where the legislation died for this session.

9. If you believe that Virginia must cut spending in state government, what spending category would you cut first?
Non-core services.  Through the years there has been pork or special interest funding inserted into the state budget and that would be the first place I would look to make cuts.

For some more information, I’d recommend that you read a recent article provided by hburgnews.com.

Remember that polls will only be open from 4 to 8 PM tomorrow.  If you are in the city, you vote at Keister Elementary, 100 Maryland Avenue.  If you are in the county, you vote at Lacey Spring Elementary School, 8621 North Valley Pike.

Be an informed voter!

Update: Assuming you lived in the 26th District (which of course many of you do not), based upon the above information which of the candidates would you support and why?  Please feel free to comment.

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I’m pleased to announce that the Tea Party gathering in downtown Harrisonburg on Tax Day went quite well.  Coming on the back of the recent JMU riot, I suppose some folks feared the worst from a political gathering like this one.  (If you missed hearing about the JMU fiasco, head on over to hburgnews for the story.)  Despite some liberals’ misgivings, the only message was principled politics, not personal hatred.  Unlike events elsewhere, there were no signs threatening violence and no signs calling for Obama’s head.  All they asked was for limited government and liberty.  Although sometimes people from other parts of the state and country malign citizens of the Shenandoah Valley as backwards and rednecks, I’m pleased to say that we have enough decency and common sense to act in a dignified manner.  (To return to that JMU matter, you should know that most of the people charged with felonies and misdemeanors were neither JMU students nor Valley residents.)

Along with the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party members, were former Senator George Allen, former RPV chairwoman Kate Obenshain, Americans for Prosperity’s Ben Marchi, and Senator Mark Obenshain.  They all gave impassioned speeches in favor of our shared principles.  I don’t know how many hundreds of people were gathered on the courthouse grounds yesterday, but you can use my pictures to get a rough estimation.  Fortunately, the day was blessed with perfect weather.

I cannot tell you how inspiring it is to see so many of my fellow citizens getting involved.  But, simply showing up for an event is the easy part.  We must stay active in politics and constantly promote our principles whether it is through the local tea party, the Republican committee, or some other means.  A word of warning, however, is that we cannot and must not be complacent, marginalized, co-opted, or taken for granted.  Then, and only then, can we create the real change we need in our city, our state, and in our country.

Thank you Shenandoah Valley Tea Party.  Y’all enjoy the photos!

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