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Gillispie, Holloway and Thompson finish 1-2-3 in Front Royal council race

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Campaign signs greeted voters locally and across the nation in one of the most-anticipated mid-term elections in recent memory. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Two of three county Republican Committee-endorsed candidates were the top vote-getters in the Front Royal Town Council race Tuesday night.  Incumbent Gary Gillispie led the pack with 2,361 votes (22%) followed by former councilman and vice-mayor Chris Holloway with 2,027 (19%).

However, first-time candidate LeTasha Thompson finished ahead of the third Republican Committee-endorsed candidate Alford D. Carter by a 1,881 (18%) to 1,703 (16%) margin for the third council seat up for grabs this year.

Defeated was incumbent Councilman Chris Morrison who finished in fifth place of six candidates, with 1,438 votes (14%).  Robert “Robbie” Tennett drew 1,127 votes (11%) in sixth place.

During his campaign, Morrison had bemoaned the fact that his federal employment prevented him from carrying a political party endorsement due to Hatch Act regulations against partisan political activity by those employed by the federal government.

In fact, some criticism was leveled at the partisan overtone brought by the level of endorsement from the Republican Committee to what is by town charter a non-partisan town election.  Legally, that prohibition on partisan elections simply means the ballot carries no party identification next to candidate names.

While as usual, both major parties had polling place sites, Republican booth workers were most assertive in handing out sample ballots indicating the Republican-endorsed town council candidates along with federal-level candidates.  But with a new political player on the block, assertive tactics weren’t limited to one party on Election Day.

A social media video posted Tuesday afternoon showed Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz get into a verbal altercation with local attorney David Downes about the placement of a “Beer Party” booth in front of a Republican candidate display at one polling place.  Downes, who is also the proprietor of the Virginia Beer Museum, created the “Beer Party” in recent weeks in protest of the increasing partisanship displayed in the Republican endorsements of council candidates.

Lately, Downes has found himself at odds with some local Republican Committee members over his attempt to get a parking exemption to expand the Beer Museum Beer Garden in the rear of his business addresses on the 100 block of Chester Street.

In fact, third-place council finisher Thompson was one of three candidates endorsed by the Beer Party. The other two were Morrison and Tennett, who both finished “out of the money” Tuesday.

In a less contentious race, running unopposed incumbent Hollis Tharpe drew 3,463 of 3,795 votes cast in the Front Royal mayoral race.  Write-ins accounted for the other 332 votes cast in the mayor’s race.  There was no indication how those write-ins were distributed.

Handing out results at the County Registrar’s Office around 8:30 p.m. Circuit Court Clerk Darryl Funk said that while there remained provisional ballots to be counted Tuesday evening, it did not appear there were enough to alter the electoral result in the local races.

As this story was submitted, with nearly 96% of Virginia precincts reporting incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Kaine had a 1,641,348 (58.87%) to 1,237,248 (42.12%) vote lead over Republican challenger Corey Stewart.

In Virginia’s Sixth District race for the U.S. House of Representatives, retiring Republican Robert Goodlatte’s handpicked successor Ben Cline had a commanding lead over Democrat Jennifer Lewis, 148,182 (59.78%) to 99,432 (40.12%).

However in a hotly-watched race, Republican U.S. 10th District House incumbent Barbara Comstock trailed Democrat Jennifer Wexton by a 174,021 (54.93%) to 142,278 (44.91%) margin.

Local Government

Council aligns with Planning Commission: No exemption from off-street parking

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The Virginia Beer Museum at 16 Chester Street, may have to nix expansion of its backyard Beer Garden following a Council vote denying an exemption for off-street parking for museums and art galleries. / Royal Examiner File Photo

FRONT ROYAL – A motion to amend Front Royal Town Code 175-127.3 to exempt museums and art galleries from off-street parking requirements failed Monday evening (Jan. 14, 2019) at its second and final reading, as the Front Royal Town Council voted down the measure 4-2.

Councilman Jacob Meza and recently-elected LeTasha Thompson voted in favor of the code change to allow the exemption, while Councilmen Sealock, Tewalt, Gillispie and Holloway voted against the measure.  Prior to the vote Sealock addressed his concerns about a lack of parking data and also reminded the panel that they had originally agreed to affirm the Planning Comission’s  decision.

Virginia Beer Museum owner David Downes had previously submitted a request to receive an off-street parking exemption to expand the entity’s beer garden. The parking spots he hoped to eliminate are behind 14 and 16 Chester Street, where Downes’ law office and the museum are located.

He previously told Royal Examiner that his request was an attempt to be treated the same as the businesses on Main, Jackson and Chester streets, which are exempt from off-street parking requirements.

Last September, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that Downe’s request be denied in favor of a town-wide parking study after a public hearing in which 14 citizens spoke in favor of the exemption, with three speaking against it.

In other business, the Town Council’s Monday:

  • Appointed William C. Gordon to the Planning Commission, term expiring August 30, 2020.
  • Appointed Eugene Tewalt and Jacob Meza to the Audit & Finance Committee, term expiring Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Appointed William Sealock as Vice-Mayor. He will serve for two years, until the end of his term.
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Local Government

Town Summit – Part 6, Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson gives us an ‘Financial Overview’.

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Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson. Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

In this 6th and final presentation of the Town Council Summit, Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson gives us an ‘Financial Overview’.

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 5, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses the EDA

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner

In late 1967, Town Council and the Warren County Board of Supervisors, by reciprocal ordinances, jointly formed the “Industrial Development Authority of the Town of Front Royal and the County of Warren, Virginia”, pursuant to State statutes. This local Industrial Development Authority (“IDA”) currently is known as the Economic Development Authority, or “EDA”. This session, Town Attorney discusses the EDA and its relationship with the County and the Town.

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 4, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Roberts Rules of Order’

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Mayor Hollis Tharpe asks Town Attorney Doug Napier about Roberts Rules of Order. Photo and Video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

In this fourth presentation of the Town Council Summit,  Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Roberts Rules of Order’:

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 3, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Conflict of Interest’

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner

In this third presentation of the Town Council Summit,  Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses issues with Conflicts of Interest:

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Local Government

BOS Reports from County Administrator; County Attorney; WCPS; VDOT

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At the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 8, 2019, the monthly reports from the County Administrator Doug Stanley, County Attorney Dan Whitten gave their reports:


Also Warren County Public Schools – Greg Drescher


And report from Ed Carter, VDOT

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