In this Meet the Candidates episode, we speak again to James Bergida, candidate for the Virginia Senate. James is running for the Virginia State Senate in the newly formed District 1. District 1 includes the counties of Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, and the City of Winchester.
With a primary election set for June 20, 2023, and the general election following on November 7, Bergida is pulling out all stops to represent the people of Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren counties, and the City of Winchester.
Bergida’s path to public service traces back to his roots in Shenandoah Valley, where his upbringing instilled in him a strong sense of community, resilience, and faith. As an educator, community leader, and lifelong Virginian, he firmly believes it’s time to invest in the future of the Valley and Commonwealth.
“What does it mean to be a Shenandoah-Valley-raised doer? To me, it’s being part of a family of overcomers, a man of faith, and a passionate advocate for education,” Bergida stated. “I believe that Virginia, and our Shenandoah Valley, can continue to be the land of opportunity, a place where our people don’t just get by but thrive. And that’s why I’m running for the Virginia Senate.”
Among the multiple contenders for the Republican nomination, Bergida distinguishes himself through his deep connections with the region, comprehensive education, and diverse experience in areas ranging from agriculture to academia.
Bergida’s resume includes internships at the U.S. Department of Justice, real estate and agriculture careers, and leadership roles in the Northern Valley Young Republicans. His contributions to political science and economics as a professor at Christendom College have only solidified his standing in the community.
In the upcoming Senate race, Bergida hopes to carry his steadfast commitment to community, family values, and educational advancement from the grassroots level all the way to the Senate floor. The people of the Shenandoah Valley, he believes, deserve nothing less than to thrive.
Nicole Wanzer’s Fresh Perspective for North River District
Write-in Candidate Aims to Bring Change and Community Focus.
In a recent in the Royal Examiner’s studio, Nicole Wanzer shared her perspective and reasons for running as a write-in candidate for the North River District’s Board of Supervisors. Going up against Rich Jamieson, who was initially running unopposed, Wanzer speaks passionately about her desire to serve her community.
Wanzer’s decision to enter the race wasn’t driven by personal ambitions but by the numerous conversations she had with her neighbors. She emphasized the importance of competition in elections and believed everyone should work hard to earn their position.
Her love for the community is evident. She speaks of its beauty, safety, and the close-knit nature of its residents. However, she also believes there’s always room for improvement. Her aim is to help those in need, especially considering the evolving nature of the district, with newer residents coming in with more financial power.
Wanzer didn’t shy away from discussing broader issues either. She highlighted ongoing concerns like the library dispute and the need for more transparency, especially after recent scandals surrounding funds. A significant challenge she identified was the influx of wealthier residents from Northern Virginia, leading to a potential imbalance in the housing market and straining the original inhabitants of Warren County.
The essence of her campaign is to focus on local needs, avoiding getting sidetracked by national disputes and media narratives. Wanzer emphasized the importance of unity and understanding, as she believes true governance can only happen from the middle ground, as echoed by former leaders like Reagan. She hopes to work towards a more unified, service-driven approach to public service.
Nicole Wanzer offers a refreshing perspective for the North River District. Grounded in community values, she seeks to ensure the well-being of all residents, balancing the needs of the long-standing community members with the aspirations of newcomers. As she ventures into the political arena, Wanzer hopes to be a voice of reason, understanding, and service.
Warren County’s Fresh Face: Amber Mabie Write-in Candidate for School Board – Shenandoah District
Shenandoah District’s New Contender Shakes Up The Race.
In the studio of the Royal Examiner, Mike McCool brings to light a fresh face in the race for the Warren County School Board in the Shenandoah District: Amber Mabie. As she challenges unopposed candidate Tom McFadden, Mabie speaks on her motivation to run and the pressing issues the school board must address.
Amber Mabie’s decision to enter the race as a write-in candidate was not an impromptu one. Rather, it was an outcome of observing the needs of the children, especially her own and recognizing a lack of representation in the school board. She emphasizes that politics should have no space in schools and that the main focus should always be the children. As a mother of eight, public schooling holds a special place in her heart, and she praises the dedication and commitment of the teachers.
A major point of contention within the school board has been the use of cameras, especially in the special education classes. When asked about her stance on this, Mabee firmly believes in listening to the parents and suggests that if they believe cameras are necessary for their child’s safety, then it should be up for discussion. She pledges to remain uncompromising on her principles and ensure decisions are made with the best interests of the students in mind.
The shortage of teachers has also become a pressing concern. Mabie’s solution revolves around creating a nurturing environment to retain teachers. She highlights the need for community collaboration, emphasizing that money isn’t the only motivating factor – boots on the ground and collective efforts can make a significant difference.
Mabie also addressed concerns about those on the school board who do not have children within the public school system. She believes that having “skin in the game” is crucial and openly questions the motives of such members.
Outside of formal settings, Mabie is actively engaging with the community, holding casual meet-and-greets in various parts of her district. Through her Facebook page, “Amber Mabie for Warren County School Board,” she hopes to maintain an open line of communication with her potential constituents.
Amber Mabie may be new to politics, but her drive and commitment to the children of Warren County are evident. With a focus on unity, child welfare, and fostering a stronger educational system, Mabie offers a refreshing perspective. As the election day on November 7th nears, residents of the Shenandoah District have a new name to consider – one that promises dedication, understanding, and, most importantly, change.
Business Savvy Meets Community Service: Glenn Wood’s Roadmap to a Brighter Tomorrow
Shaping the future with community insight.
In this Meet the Candidates session, our publisher, Mike McCool, speaks with Glenn Wood, a town council candidate who elaborated on his mission for a better tomorrow. With the November 7th election approaching, Wood sheds light on his passion for service and a strategic vision for the town’s growth.
With a remarkable 45-year career in business, Wood has been no stranger to community service. After his recent retirement, Wood found solace in the Rotary Club, immersing himself in numerous service projects. His subsequent stint at the Planning Commission was a revelation; it unveiled the significance of long-term planning and the potential of influencing the town’s trajectory. With the tagline, “shaping our future,” Wood emphasizes the importance of forward-thinking in government, ensuring that the council focuses on a sustainable future rather than merely managing day-to-day affairs.
Central to Wood’s vision is the interplay between the town and its county. Reflecting on recent events like the water crisis, he underscores the need for caution and foresight, especially when entertaining ideas of industrial expansion or housing development. Balancing the needs of various stakeholders, from residents to businesses, is vital. He stresses the necessity of coordinated efforts, especially in areas like traffic management, water impact studies, and infrastructure development. Wood believes that collaboration between town and county can yield beneficial results for both entities.
Drawing from his vast experience, Wood emphasizes the importance of Return on Investment (ROI) and the potential to implement efficient mechanisms that serve the community. He recognizes the challenges businesses face when navigating government bureaucracy and envisions a more business-friendly approach, aiming for the government to operate with the efficiency of a private entity.
The topic of housing was particularly poignant. Addressing the need for diverse housing options, Wood highlights the discrepancy between the increasing demand for accommodation and the stagnation of apartment developments in recent years. He also points out the inadvertent ripple effects of housing on infrastructure, public services, and community well-being.
When asked about his core passion, Wood’s eyes light up. He speaks of harnessing technology to improve service delivery, reminiscing about his days in human resources, where he always strived for win-win scenarios. The goal? Finding common ground, promoting compromise, and always putting people first.
Wood ends on an inviting note, encouraging community members to engage with him at various events, highlighting his dedication to community outreach and ensuring that every voice is heard.
VA Delegate District 31 Race: Steve Foreman’s Vision for Virginia’s Future
Balancing Local Needs with State Progress.
As the House of Delegates District 31 election looms, Democrat Steve Foreman stands out as a voice keen on balancing state-level advancements with the pressing needs of the local communities. In a recent Meet the Candidates session, our publisher, Mike McCool, spoke with Steve Foreman and discussed his vision for the district and what sets him apart from his fellow contenders.
Foreman challenges the longstanding belief that “government is the problem,” noting the vital services it provides, from mail delivery to public safety. Drawing on this perspective, he stresses the importance of understanding and appreciating what the government can offer if managed correctly. Foreman emphasizes that while national politics garner attention, local and state issues often diverge, requiring a distinct approach.
Reaching out to the predominantly rural district, Foreman has prioritized getting to know the issues faced by small farmers. He expresses concern about the drought affecting farmers and discusses potential state aid. He also advocates for leveling the playing field for smaller farmers, who often don’t receive the same tax breaks as larger farming entities.
Foreman’s push for strengthening rural areas is also evident in his emphasis on the rollout of rural broadband. Recognizing it as a tool for fostering telemedicine, remote work, and education, Foreman applauds the Democratic Party’s effort to treat broadband access as a standard utility.
Education remains a linchpin in his campaign, with Foreman stressing the importance of funding public schools and ensuring teachers receive adequate pay and professional development. The candidate also highlights the challenges starting teachers face in securing affordable housing in the district, hinting at potential state-level solutions.
Addressing family needs, Foreman sees affordable childcare and decent wages as pivotal for ensuring quality family time, especially in two-income households. His dedication extends to mental health, acknowledging the recent state budget allocation to this crucial area and endorsing a more holistic approach to tackling substance abuse, merging law enforcement with medical intervention.
Environmentally, Foreman raises concerns over Virginia’s potential exit from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an accord targeting reduced greenhouse gas emissions and aiding vulnerable communities against climate impacts. This emphasis on the environment, coupled with his stance on bolstering the minimum wage, underscores Foreman’s broader vision of promoting societal well-being.
While the District 31 race sees three candidates vying for the position, Steve Foreman paints a picture of a Virginia where state initiatives harmonize with local needs. Whether it’s addressing rural broadband, uplifting small farmers, or ensuring a greener future, Foreman’s vision stands as a testament to his commitment to the people of District 31.
A New Dawn in Local Governance: Meet Melissa DeDomenico-Payne
From Novice to Council: DeDomenico-Payne’s Journey to Local Leadership.
In a candid conversation with Mike McCool of the Royal Examiner, the Town Council’s recent appointee, Melissa DeDomenico-Payne, discussed her reasons for delving into the world of local governance, her aspirations, and her vision for the future of the community.
DeDomenico-Payne’s journey into local politics began out of sheer curiosity and an innate interest in public administration. Inspired by her neighbor Lori’s leap into mayoral duties, Melissa threw her name into the ring and was welcomed aboard. With a doctorate in public administration under her belt, she isn’t new to the world of administrative processes. Her academic journey, once impeded by the lack of online resources, found a second wind with the rise of the internet, allowing her to pursue her doctorate while managing work.
While her academic accolades are impressive, it’s her insights into the functioning of the town council that truly captivate her. She emphasized the nuances of zoning and planning, underscoring how vital it is for community development. DeDomenico-Payne highlighted her systems thinking approach, emphasizing the need to anticipate the long-term consequences of today’s decisions. Her vision? Creating an infrastructure that supports individuals in achieving their utmost potential. This encompasses everything from public safety to community revitalization.
For DeDomenico-Payne, fiscal conservatism is a core principle. Her goal is to devise creative solutions that deliver value without burdening taxpayers. Her commitment to transparency and consistency was evident as she spoke about the importance of language in ordinances, ensuring fairness in rule enforcement.
Discussing her short time on the council, she gave a nod to the challenges of governance, citing instances when legal constraints prevent immediate transparency with the public. But she remains hopeful and driven, eager to engage with her constituents more closely in the lead-up to the special election on November 7th.
With four candidates vying for two seats, DeDomenico-Payne has her work cut out for her. Yet, her passion for the community, combined with her academic and practical insights into administration, make her a notable contender. As she gears up to walk the streets, engaging with the residents, one thing is clear: her heart is set on a brighter future for the community.
Sheriff Mark Butler on Challenges, Community Policing, and Election Goals
The Role of a Sheriff in Modern Times.
With the November 7th elections looming large, Warren County’s very own Sheriff Mark Butler joined Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner Studio to discuss his re-election bid, his views on the role of the Sheriff’s office, and the pressing concerns in the community.
Butler emphasizes that while enforcing the law is a part of a sheriff’s duty, the primary responsibility is to protect the Constitution and ensure that every citizen’s rights are upheld. Addressing the topic of animal control, a focal point in recent debates, he highlighted its classification under the Virginia Code as a county obligation, not solely that of the sheriff’s office. Refuting the need for a dedicated animal control position, Butler suggests it’s more effective and economical to train existing deputies, as multitasking helps save county resources.
Another significant topic of discussion revolved around School Resource Officers (SROs). Sheriff Butler proudly shares that every school is now assigned a dedicated SRO, a shift from previous years. This change has become more important than ever, as calls for service at schools have risen by 187% in the last three years. While the primary role of an SRO revolves around the threat of active shooters, they are involved in a gamut of school-related concerns, further stressing the importance of their presence.
Community policing has been a passion point for Butler. Contrary to the popular belief of it being a modern concept, he points out its origins trace back to 1800s England. Warren County’s approach focuses on identifying crime hotspots and tackling them head-on. With a CCPC recognition putting them in the top 1-2% for community policing, Butler’s pride in his deputies is evident.
The conversation also turned towards the value of accreditations. While not every law enforcement agency seeks this, for Butler, it’s a sign of transparency and adherence to standards. He touches upon the EDA scandal, deeming it one of the biggest scandals in Warren County and possibly Virginia’s history. For him, it underscores the importance of running a transparent, efficient, and honest office that aligns with the Constitution.
In an age where community safety and public trust in law enforcement are paramount, Sheriff Mark Butler’s dedication to upholding the Constitution, ensuring equal and fair law enforcement, and driving proactive community engagement sets a strong precedent for the future of Warren County.
All candidates vying for any position are cordially invited to the Royal Examiner. Reach out to us to coordinate a time to share your message.