Meet the Candidates is a series on the Royal Examiner where we sit down with each candidate in our local election and discuss important issues. In this Meet the Candidates session, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Delores R. Oates. Delores has announced her candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates, District 31, in the November 7, 2023 election.
Delores was born in Front Royal and proudly attended Warren County High School. Delores is active in the community, serving as a mentor to teen mothers and volunteering in various churches, youth athletic organizations, and civic groups. Delores lives with her husband Rob in Warren County and has raised her three children here.
Taking on Taxes & Lowering Democrat Inflation
Hardworking Virginians have been hit hard enough by the Democrat’s rising prices and bloated government. Delores says she will work to cut taxes for Virginians and ensure that your money is working for you because the cure to inflation is through responsible government spending.
Defending Our 2nd Amendment Rights
Our 2nd Amendment rights have secured the survival of our country. Currently, Democrats across the country are using a tragedy as an opportunity to criminalize law-abiding gun owners. As your Delegate, Delores says she will defend our constitutional rights from the liberal gun grabbers.
Safeguarding Our Elections
It is paramount to restore the trust and integrity of our elections because no citizen should question whether their vote has been accurately collected or counted for who or what they voted for. Delores says she will fight to audit future elections and use common sense voter identification protections.
Securing Our Borders
National security is border security, and we cannot continue to exist as a sovereign nation as long as our border isn’t secure. Delores says she will oppose sanctuary city policies, end in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, and restore the rule of law.
Delores is proudly pro-life and in Richmond will take on the infanticide lobby head-on by repealing legislation that legalized third-trimester abortions, and says she will vote to defund Planned Parenthood and restore a culture of life in Virginia.
Front Royal’s New Voice: Connie Marshner’s Blend of Tradition and Future Vision
An “Un-Candidate” Vision: From Railroad Safety to Lifelong Communities.
Connie Marshner, the self-described “un-candidate,” is throwing her hat in the ring for one of two coveted seats in Front Royal’s Town Council this November 7th. Her unique perspective, shaped by a diverse background and deep-rooted connections to Front Royal, promises an innovative approach to town challenges.
Marshner’s journey with Front Royal began in the 1980s when her family planted their roots in town. Despite being a newcomer to the electoral landscape, she isn’t a stranger to local governance. Since 2017, she’s been an integral part of the Front Royal Planning Commission, now serving as its vice-chair. Her decision to run is a testament to the “call of duty,” urging her to be the change she wished to see. Instead of succumbing to preconceived notions, Marshner encourages voters to perceive her as an individual, one whose narrative spans growing up as a Navy child, attaining a master’s degree in Ireland, and lending her expertise as a public policy researcher in the heart of Washington.
One pivotal moment that nudged Marshner towards this electoral journey revolves around the ongoing concerns about railroad crossing safety in Shenandoah Shores. It wasn’t just about the problem but the palpable inaction over solutions that had been on paper for three decades. This urgency for new voices resonated deeply with her. Speaking of Front Royal’s inevitable growth, Marshner emphasized the essence of effective management. Rather than merely seeing the town as a hub, she visualizes it as a “lifelong community.” A place that embraces residents across various life stages – from the youthful exuberance of apartment living to serene days in retirement homes, ensuring they don’t drift away towards the allure of “bedroom communities.”
Marshner’s vision doesn’t end here. She’s passionate about breathing life back into downtown, championing the cause for sidewalks and bike trails, and optimizing the trolley system for the town’s diligent workforce. She’s also keen on reimagining zoning laws to promote mixed-use development while being steadfast about enforcing regulations to manage blighted properties.
Closing her candid discussion, Marshner unveiled her strongest card – the ability to think differently, unshackled from the chains of local political webs. She aspires to be a bridge builder and a coalition creator, propelling Front Royal towards a future it truly deserves.
Delegate Dave LaRock Mounts Surprise Write-In Bid for Virginia State Senate District 1
Challenging Republican Norms: LaRock Aims to Fill Open District 1 Senate Seat.
Dave LaRock is taking an unexpected route back to political prominence. After suffering a primary defeat at the hands of businessman Timmy French, LaRock is embarking on a write-in campaign for the Virginia State Senate seat in District 1. As election day approaches, LaRock sits down with Mike McCool in the Royal Examiner studio, shedding light on his unexpected political move and the reasons behind it.
Questioning Republican Values
Virginia stands at a crucial juncture with a Republican governor, Youngkin, at the helm. LaRock feels the urgent need for “good representation” that genuinely resonates with core conservative values. In the interview, LaRock voiced concerns about French’s commitment to Republican ideals, even going so far as to label him a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only). French’s campaign signs, seen alongside those of Democrats in Frederick County, further raised LaRock’s eyebrows. This, according to LaRock, poses a “dilemma” for GOP leaders, leaving them in a quandary about rallying behind French.
Addressing his unique write-in strategy, LaRock intends to underline these worries, hoping to sway voters in his favor. Though write-in campaigns are challenging, he drew parallels with successful efforts like that of Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, indicating a glimmer of hope for his cause.
Comparing Political Chops
LaRock didn’t mince words, pointing out French’s ambiguity on pressing GOP matters like abortion and the Second Amendment. Moreover, with seasoned Valley legislators hanging up their boots, LaRock believes French’s lack of political experience might be detrimental. “We need power and credibility,” he emphasized.
In stark contrast, LaRock proudly recalled his ten-year stint as a delegate, marked by his readiness to diverge from party leadership when necessary. For instance, he cast a dissenting vote against Dominion Energy’s proposed legislation, which was backed by others. Such independence, in LaRock’s view, is essential for thorough bill scrutiny and effective legislation.
Acknowledging the arduous road ahead for write-in candidates, LaRock remains optimistic. He believes that a well-informed electorate could tilt the scales in his favor. Moreover, he threw down the gauntlet, inviting French for a public discourse to juxtapose their beliefs and qualifications.
LaRock’s determination is evident. His mission is clear: ensure District 1 is led by a committed conservative leader in Richmond. As the election looms, LaRock is all set for a spirited, if unconventional, fight for the State Senate seat that eluded him just a few months ago.
Front Royal’s Town Council Race: Candidates Share Visions on Housing and Blight
Candidates Open Up About Their Plans and Backgrounds at Recent Forum.
On September 27, the Warren County Builders Association played host to a riveting forum featuring candidates eyeing a seat on the Front Royal Town Council.
Melissa DeDomenico-Payne: A familiar face in the Front Royal political scene, Melissa has been serving on the Town Council since her appointment in January 2023. A local resident since 1971, she vividly remembers the water pollution issues from Avtex during her younger days. Melissa’s approach to blighted properties leans heavily on beefing up the enforcement of rental rules and town codes. She’s vocal about the need for affordable housing. Melissa’s rich background in public service was a focal point during her closing, and she urged builders to establish better communication channels with the council.
Connie Marshner: Branding herself as the “uncandidate,” Connie brings a fresh perspective, free from the binds of political history. She moved to Front Royal in 1995 and recalls a childhood dictated by her Navy family’s frequent relocations. Her take on neglected properties echoes a common sentiment—more hands on deck. She envisions Front Royal as a “lifelong community” with houses everyone can afford. Ending her segment, Connie painted a picture of Front Royal at a crossroads, emphasizing the need to cherish its unique charm and walkable streets.
Glenn Wood: A true Front Royal son, Glenn’s roots trace back to his school days in the local institutions. After dedicating half a century to manufacturing and human resources, he hung up his professional boots, although his heart remains tethered to community service. Glenn expresses deep concern over blighted properties, advocating for prompt actions. On the housing frontier, he’s all for partnerships that benefit those earning under $50k annually. In wrapping up, Glenn put his planning commission experience on display, pledging to ensure the well-being of Front Royal’s residents.
Missing from the forum was the fourth candidate, Skip Rogers, who couldn’t make it to the event. The discussions from that evening painted a clear picture of each candidate’s vision for Front Royal, especially on burning topics like blight and housing affordability. As election day approaches, the residents of Front Royal are undoubtedly better equipped to cast their votes.
Warren County Builders Association Spotlights School Board Hopefuls: Pence & Mabie Talk Education
Candidates Pence and Mabie Weigh in on Bullying, Homeschooling, and Community Engagement.
With the Warren County Builders Association as the backdrop, a pivotal discussion surrounding the direction of local education was presented, showcasing school board candidates Kristen Pence of the South River District and Amber Mabie of the Shenandoah District. Their perspectives, experiences, and solutions took center stage, providing Warren County residents with an in-depth look into their educational aspirations for the region.
Kristen Pence: A Warren County High School alumna, Pence has roots deeply embedded in the community. With a dual role as a veterinarian and a parent, Pence leveraged her four-year tenure on the school board, emphasizing her unwavering commitment. She drew attention to her consistent efforts over the past term, treating the board seat as a full-time job, and her constant engagement with students, parents, and teachers.
Amber Mabie: Mabie’s narrative was equally compelling. A long-standing resident of Warren County and a mother to eight, Mabie exhibited her intimate familiarity with the local school system. With a rich tapestry of experiences ranging from classroom volunteering to substitute teaching, Mabie made a strong case for her grassroots approach to education. She was passionate in her stance against political interference in schools, underscoring the need for an untainted educational environment.
The Core Issues:
Bullying and Student Violence: Rick Novak, the evening’s moderator, didn’t hesitate to address one of the most pressing issues: the alarming increase in bullying and student violence. Mabie passionately voiced her perspective, emphasizing the paramount importance of teacher safety and advocating for reinforced in-school support. Pence, while echoing the sentiment of robust support, stressed the necessity of not just having discipline policies but also ensuring they are effectively enforced.
Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling: This debate took an interesting turn, with Pence acknowledging the growing homeschooling community in Warren County. She advocated for the respect of diverse educational choices while emphasizing her commitment to bolstering public education. Mabie, on the other hand, emphasized the crucial insights gained from having children within the public system and was candid in her skepticism about school board members without this connection.
As they wrapped up, both candidates exhibited a deep-seated commitment to the community. Pence focused on student behavioral challenges and underscored the importance of family engagement. Mabie, casting a wider societal net, championed inclusivity, safety, and the urgent need to address pressing social challenges affecting students.
As the election date of November 7 nears, voters will undoubtedly be reflecting upon the depth and breadth of perspectives presented during this seminal event.
Solo Spotlight: Candidates Stand Alone at Warren County Builders Association Forum
Warren County Builders Association Hosts Noteworthy Candidate Forum.
Warren County’s Builders Association took a significant stride in strengthening community ties and promoting transparency by hosting its first-ever candidate forum.
George Cline, President of the Warren County Builders Association, expressed gratitude for the overwhelming participation and emphasized the Association’s continuous commitment to the community. Since its establishment in 2006, the association has launched various philanthropic initiatives, from scholarships at the Blue Ridge Tech Center to supporting local veterans and families in need.
Not all the candidates were able to attend the forum. Some are running unopposed.
- Melanie Salins – North River School Board
Melanie, a re-election candidate, emphasized the importance of parents in the education process. Voicing concerns about elitism in education organizations, she advocated for increased parental involvement. Salins also acknowledged the positive strides Warren County Public Schools have made, including the accomplishments at Blue Ridge Tech. Nicole Wanzer, a write-in is also running for North River School Board.
- Angie Moore – Clerk of the Court
Angie provided an insight into the vast responsibilities of the Circuit Court. During her tenure, she has made significant strides in digitizing documents, securing grants, and maintaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moore showcased her qualifications, emphasizing her commitment to the role. Unopposed.
- John Bell – Commonwealth Attorney
With a personal touch, John shared his family stories and the importance of justice in a small-town setting. He discussed the challenges brought forth by the pandemic and the need for a prosecutor who understands the community. Unopposed.
- Crystal Cline – Warren County Sheriff: Crystal underlined the importance of bolstering resources for the Sheriff’s Office. She commended the dedication of deputies, highlighting the need for specialized training and equipment. Crystal stressed the importance of dedicated school resource officers and effective community support. Mark Butler is also running for sheriff.
- Janice Butler-Shanks – Warren County Treasurer: Janice, the Republican nominee for Treasurer, emphasized the Treasurer’s role in managing and collecting taxes. Drawing upon her extensive background in local businesses and government, she committed to upholding the highest standards in office. Allison Ross is also running for treasurer.
- Sherry Sowers – Commissioner of Revenue: As a long-serving Commissioner, Sherry discussed her dedication to assisting Warren County residents. She addressed the improvements in liaising with contractors regarding business licenses and encouraged community members to seek help when needed. Unopposed.
The inaugural candidate forum by the Warren County Builders Association marked a significant step toward enhancing community engagement. Each candidate showed a deep commitment to their roles and a vision for a better Warren County.
Independent Voice for Change: Elizabeth Melson Runs for Senate District 28
An Advocate, Businesswoman, and Farmer Shares Her Vision.
Elizabeth Melson, a candidate for State Senate District 28, represents a mosaic of roles: a mother, wife, advocate, business owner, and farmer. Known for her grassroots initiatives, her vision for the district illuminates a roadmap for governance that seeks to bridge divides and uplift communities.
Melson’s story is as remarkable as her aspirations. A justice-impacted individual, she has returned to the confines of RSW Regional Jail, not as an inmate, but as a beacon of hope offering trauma-informed programs. This experience, combined with her tenure in several state-wide boards like the Virginia Farmers Market Association and Virginia Hemp Coalition, has equipped her with insights into the challenges and opportunities in our legal and agricultural systems.
Balancing her civic roles, Elizabeth’s day-to-day life revolves around her occupation as a Farm and Farmers Market Manager and also as a Yoga Instructor. Her candidness about her personal life—from cheering for her daughter’s equestrian ventures to weekend getaways with her chef husband—adds a relatable touch to her campaign.
The issues at the heart of her campaign resonate deeply with the residents of Senate District 28. She aims to:
- Champion Small Businesses: Recognizing the struggles that local enterprises face from over-regulation, taxation, and inflation, Melson wants to ensure that small businesses have the support they need to thrive.
- Empower Local Decisions: Citing the bureaucratic hurdles with VDOT in her own county, Melson is advocating for greater local authority in making decisions about traffic safety and patterns.
- Advocate for Consumer Rights: From raw milk to plant medicine, she proposes a Right to Food amendment, emphasizing consumer freedom and sovereignty.
- Reform Agriculture & Land Use: Encouraging biodiversity over monocropping and giving tax breaks to productive landowners, Melson seeks to cultivate regional resilience.
- Strengthen Local Supply Chain: She proposes investment in infrastructure like cold storage and commercial kitchens to bolster the local food ecosystem.
- Prioritize Mental Health: Highlighting the urgent need for mental health care accessibility in rural communities, Melson’s vision includes promoting telehealth and affordable care.
Furthermore, her stances on governance reforms, voter ID requirements, education, data centers, 2nd Amendment rights, criminal justice, and women’s reproductive rights showcase a comprehensive approach to governance.
Elizabeth Melson’s candidacy is a testament to her unwavering commitment to her community. A blend of her personal experiences and professional endeavors informs her campaign’s vision. District 28 awaits a transformative election season, and with voices like Melson’s, the future looks promising.
Senate District 28 covers the counties of Rappahannock, Fauquier (part), Culpeper, Orange, Madison, Greene, and Spotsylvania (part).