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Upcoming Local Government Meetings

Monday, July 25th @ 7pm--Commonwealth Attorney's Forum, Hosted by Shen. Valley Constitutional Conservatives, Dennys, 250 Conicville Road, Mt. Jackson

Tuesday, July 26th @ 7pm--Strasburg Planning Commission, 125 E. King Street, Strasburg

Tuesday, July 26th @ 7:30 pm--Woodstock Planning Commission, 135 N. Main Street, Woodstock

NEWS: Riverbends precinct scrapped; District 4 to have just one precinct

June 15, 2011

You may have noticed we’ve been a little skimpy on hard meeting coverage this week, despite the fact that, as with every week, there are indeed meetings happening. There’s a good reason for this: your intrepid blogger has a life too. Oh, certainly I’m still obsessed with politics, but even I have to go to the doctor sometimes (though some would say more than your average 25 year old). Hence why we’ve been a little late to the game. But we promise we’re still dedicated to the proposition of offering uncensored and complete coverage of local politics–I just need to figure out how to do it.

But there is one bit of news from yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. I was able to confirm from Sharon Baroncelli, District 4 Supervisor, that the redistricting plan proposed for the county passed with just one change. The proposed Riverbends precinct, which would have taken in areas of the Mt. Olive precinct located in between the St. Luke, Woodstock, and Toms Brook boundaries, has been scrapped. Instead, these voters will now be part of a single Woodstock precinct.

The practical effect for voters is, well, limited. After all, Riverbends was going to be in District 4, and both Woodstock and Riverbends would have voted at Central High. Now, all those voters will be in a single precinct for the purposes of election administration–the only real difference being, as existed before but to a lesser scale, that those voters located outside of the Woodstock preinct boundaries will, naturally, not be eligible to vote in town elections.

The bigger impact is on party politics. The combination of these two precincts will affect the way Republican Party activities are handled in terms of party voting strength. But you’ll just have to hang on to see how.

So again, the practical effect: The 4th District of the Board of Supervisors now consists of just one precinct, but still with voters taken from the old Mount Olive precinct.


CAMPAIGN NEWS: And then there were three….Amanda Wiseley to join CWA’s race

June 15, 2011

Breaking news: Amanda McDonald Wiseley, a lawyer with Wiseley McDonald Wiseley in Strasburg and Secretary of the Shenandoah County Republican Committee, is joining the race to become the next Republican nominee for the office of Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

We’ll have a better biographical profile up in a few hours, but this adds even more intrigue to a race that was already the marquee matchup for the Republican convention. We’ll have a breakdown later tonight of just how that’s going to play out, as the Committee is slated to issue its call to Convention this evening. That call will contain the delegate numbers for each precinct, as well as the the dates for the convention proper and the mass meetings. Stay tuned….this is just getting started.


As promised, a little bit of biographical background on Mrs. Wiseley. Amanda, age approximately 31, is partner, with her husband, at the law firm of Wiseley McDonald Wiseley in Strasburg, VA, which handles a variety of criminal defense and civil matters. She attended Strasburg High School and the University of Virginia, earning her law degree from T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond. She previously practiced law at Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff and Love in Winchester. She has been admitted to both the Virginia and West Virginia State Bar. She has three children (two from her husband’s previous marriage) and is expecting a second around August. Mrs. McDonald Wiseley is actively involved with athletics at Strasburg High School. She has served as Secretary of the Shenandoah County Republican Committee since 2005. Her campaign facebook page can be found here.

Meeting Preview: June 14th, 2011 Board of Supervisors Meeting

June 13, 2011

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t had a chance to break down the packet for tomorrow’s meeting. I’ll do so in the meeting wrap-up, but for right now, here’s the highlights:

Consent Agenda:

  • Appointments to the Lord Fairfax Community College Board, Tourism Council, and Library Board
  • Adoption of state vehicle codes by reference

Informational hearings:

  • Presentation of a resolution of support for adding Bear Paw Road and Bridge to the state’s secondary roads system
  • Presentation on funding options for the Edinburg school project
  • Reports, Reports and more Reports
  • Consideration of a six month extension of the contract between the Shenandoah County Area Agency on Aging and the County for the old Woodstock High School
  • Consideration of a Fund Balance Policy (much to explain here, but essential this will set a policy for dealing with the county’s fund balance in accordance with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, which is a non-governmental organization that sets the generally accepted accounting policies for non-federal governments)


  • Increase in commercial tipping fee at County landfill to $45
  • Final consideration of redistricting

Closed Sessions:

  • Legal consultation regarding a voluntary settlement agreement
  • Legal consultation regarding a utility system agreement
  • Legal consultation regarding a five-party performance agreement related to land conservation
  • Discussion of the performance and employment of two county personal


OPINION: Congressman Goodlatte’s Weekly Column for June 11th, 2011

June 11, 2011

Ed: Below is Congessman Bob Goodlatte’s Weekly Column. We’re primarily a site about local politics, but state and national candidates and officeholders are welcome to send us articles and columns about any issues that are of concern to the people of Shenandoah County, as we feel citizens have a right to hear their comments. We want to provide a forum for candidates of all offices to reach out to the voters of Shenandoah County, as we feel this is something lacking in the current media paradigm. However, we still ask that citizen commentary be focused on local issues–there’s enough back and forth on national issues in the current papers. The below column does not neccesarily reflect the views of Shenandoah Sunshine or myself, nor should the publication of any candidate or officeholder’s words be considered an endorsement of their candidacy or the viewpoint they express.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Weekly Column: June 10, 2011

Congress Must Demand Accountability on U.S. Action in Libya

Nearly three months ago U.S. forces, at the command of President Obama and without the consent of the U.S. Congress, began attacking targets in Libya controlled by Moammar Gaddafi.  I think most Americans, including myself, agree that seeing this tyrannical dictator and his regime of thugs removed from power would be a good thing.  However, I think most Americans, including myself, also feel strongly that American forces should not be committed to this kind of mission without the consent of the U.S. Congress.

President Obama cites the War Powers Resolution of 1973 as giving him the authority to commit U.S. forces to the mission in Libya.  However, the War Powers Resolution clearly states that the President’s powers as Commander-in-Chief to introduce U.S. forces into hostilities can be exercised only when a declaration of war has been issued, specific statutory authorization has been given or in the event of a national emergency created by an attack on the United States or its forces.  The President has failed to define the mission in Libya and America’s role in achieving that mission before committing our military forces.

I have been alarmed by the President’s failure to comply with the War Powers Act and to define the U.S. mission in Libya.  This Congress must not neglect its responsibility and authority regarding the use of force, and so I am pleased that days ago this important issue was finally debated on the floor of the House.

I voted for the bipartisan resolution which demands that the President provide answers about our involvement in the conflict in Libya, including the President’s justification for not seeking Congressional authorization for this action. The resolution gives the President 14 days to respond to this request. The President should take very seriously this resolution. And our leadership in Congress should be vigilant to demand a full and clear response from the President.  This resolution also gives adequate notice to NATO and our other allies of the concerns of the House before the House takes further action and reaffirms the position of the House that there should be no troops on the ground in Libya.

House-passage of this resolution is an important first step in restoring the balance that our Founding Fathers envisioned, that our legislative and executive branches share the responsibility regarding the use of U.S. force.  However, this recent action taken by the House of Representatives should not be the last step.  In the coming days, the House must continue to hold the Administration accountable for the critical military decisions they made without consent from the Congress.

To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at


ELECTION NEWS: Democratic Nomination Method for County Offices, 15th House and 26th Senate District

June 11, 2011

As promised, we have details on the method of nomination for the Democratic Party. Shenandoah County Democrats will hold a caucus on August 3rd to select nominees for the offices of Commissioner of Revenue, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Sheriff and Treasurer, as well as Board of Supervisor seats in the 2nd, 3rd and 6th Districts. Additionally, that same night they will host the caucus for the 26th and 15th Districts. Candidates have until July 15th to apply to run for the nomination. Between then and the 19th a nominations committee will meet and decide on the acceptance of candidates. If a Caucus is required, then public notice will be issued on July 20th. Between the 25th and the 3rd individuals may declare that they intend to attend the Caucus (note that caucus-goers may sign such a declaration at the door). The Declaration certifies that the individual is a Democrat, eligible to vote in the district or county for which nominations are being held, believes in the party’s principles and will not support any candidate opposing a Democrat in the general election.The caucus, if necessary, will be held at 7p.m. at the County Government building.

Two notes. One, you may be asking yourself–just what is a caucus? Well, a caucus is pretty much the Democratic equivalent of the GOPs mass meetings. Any eligible individual who shows up may cast one vote in each race, the meeting is run according to parliamentary procedure and the party’s rules, and voting occurs at roughly the same time. Conventions, on the other hand, use a system of delegates elected by a lower tier and are weighted according to the party’s relative strength in that given geographic area. Because a county has a specific vote, a delegate representing a locality that sends fewer delegates than its share of the vote may end up throwing multiple votes towards a candidate, or if the locality sends more delegates than it has votes delegates may end up casting a fraction of the vote. Primaries (state or party run) utilize all the trappings of a general election-secret ballots, cast by individuals across the course of several hours, after which the results are tabulated and he with the most votes wins.

It should also be pointed out that three seperate process are being held that evening (if needed)–a caucus for county offices, a caucus for the 26th district, and a caucus for the 15th district. Again, only those individuals who are eligible to vote in that particular area may participate in that area’s nominating caucus.

Now go out there and participate in the process of your choosing, R or D!

ELECTION NEWS: Alger to seek GOP nomination for Commonwealth’s Attorney

June 11, 2011

Well, the NVDaily scooped us again (for those keeping score at home, the Daily is up 2-1 right now). I had heard rumbling about this possible development, but I held off on reporting it until I heard from the candidate. Right now, though, we’re still growing into a news source (and that includes audience-wise), roughly analogous to AMC back in the 70s. We hope to eventually move into the Chrysler spot (we’re coming for you, Valley-Herald), but for the time being, we’ll have to rely on the Daily for this one.

Ken Alger, 32 of Stanley, announced yesterday that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for Commonwealth’s Attorney. Alger has worked under retiring Republican incumbent Al Mitchell since 2005, when he replaced then-Delegate-elect Todd Gilbert. Alger attended the University of Virginia and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia Law School. He is President-elect of the State Bar’s Young Lawyers Conference and in 2008 won their Young Lawyer of the Year award. Alger has been actively involved in various community service groups in Page County. Alger’s full bio can be found on the Commonwealth Attorney’s website.

Alger’s announcement sets up the first GOP nominating contest for a constitutional office since 1999, when Robert Bowman defeated Freddie Hottle for the Sheriff’s nomination. (Interestingly enough, Hottle is now seeking the office of Sheriff in King George’s County) It should be noted that, according to the Code of Virginia, Alger will need to establish residency in Shenandoah County at least 30 days prior to Election Day in order to serve as Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The Shenandoah County Republican Committee, which consists of elected officials, District chairs, precinct members and at-large members, will meet this Wednesday at 7:30 at the Circuit Courthouse to decide the method of nomination for this and other county seats. Past history shows that the smart money should be on a convention as the method of nomination.

Check out the Daily’s article on the race here.

DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the County Republican Committee, with a vote on the method of nomination.

ELECTION NEWS: Obenshain In, Gilbert “pretty much” in

June 10, 2011

In know that this is relatively old news at this point, but I wanted to post just quickly on the status of Shenandoah County’s two representatives in Richmond’s bids for re-election.

Incumbent Republican Senator Mark Obenshain, 48 of Harrisonburg, announced his re-election bid late last week. He’ll be seeking his third term in the Senate, where he has served since defeating independent Rodney Eagle in the 2003 General Election. In the Senate Obenshain serves on the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; Courts of Justice; Local Government; and Priveleges and Elections Committee. He is not a chair of any committees, as Democrats currently hold a 22-18 majority in the Senate. However, it is widely believed that the Senate is in play this year, with pickup opportunities existing for both parties, due not only to changing demographics and party affiliations (more Republicans in southside and southwest, more minorities, moderates and Democrats in the suburbs) but also due to redistricting. However, while most of his caucus will have to introduce themselves to new voters (and some have had to make the difficult decision on whether to challenge a fellow incumbent of the same party), Obenshain is looking good, as he picked up just one precinct, and that’s only due to the fact that it had not been created prior to his last election. That precinct, Signal Knob just outside of Strasburg, is slated to have its voters folded into Toms Brook and Strasburg if the redistricting stays the same. What it comes down to is Obenshain has nearly the exact same territory. As this district voted 71% for McDonnell and 58% for McCain. Indeed, Rockingham County, part of which comprises roughly 20% of the District, was one of the few counties in the state to vote for Jim Gilmore for Senate in 2008. Obenshain has twice scored over 65% in the district, so barring any unforeseen developments, any challenger will have an uphill battle in this solidly Republican district. For a great look at the district, visit the district profile at Curiously, Shenandoah County actually makes up the largest part of the district (though just 23%).

Obenshain is the heir of the legacy of his father, Richard Obenshain, whose 1964 Congressional and 1969 Attorney General campaigns saw conservative Democrats continue their transition that began in the mid-1950s. His leadership of RPV in the early 70s solidified this movement and led to an era of fairly rapid Republican resurgence before the Democrats were able to become competitive again in the 1980s. Obenshain was the 1978 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate but was tragically killed in an airplane crash, leading to his replacement on the ticket by and the eventual Senatorship of moderate Republican John Warner. So to say that Obenshain is part of one of the First Families of Virginia Republican politics is probably going a little short–indeed, the Party’s Richmond HQ is named the Obenshain Center. In the Senate Obenshain has carried on his father’s legacy as part of the solidly conservative bloc within the Senate Caucus. That wing consistently battled with many of the more moderate Republican Senators from 2003 to 2007, when the GOP lost control of the Senate. Relations since have been relatively more cordial and the party has hung closer together, but that hasn’t meant much other than alot of 22-18 votes. For his part Obenshain, while considered a solid social conservative, has focused primarily on criminal justice/law enforcement and fiscal issues. Take a look at his record since 2007 here at Richmond Sunlight. Many Valley Republicans have encouraged Obenshain to seek higher office, but he hasn’t done so yet. However, with his children in or off to college, the timing may be getting better. This is a race to watch, if only in regards to its potential implications for 2013. Obenshain had roughly $174k on hand as of March 31st. Check out his donors here at VPAP.

Meanwhile, in the 15th, it appears that Delegate Todd Gilbert will run for a fourth term. He has yet to announce yet, but he has promised a formal announcement soon while turning down the chance to run for Commonwealth’s Attorney. He has stated repeatedly over the last few months he intends to run again, so we’ll count him in the yes column. Gilbert won the seat over Jim Blubaugh over Rappahannock County in 2005 and has since risen to become Assistant Majority Leader in the House, which pretty much means he leads floor debates. Gilbert is in a different position than Obenshain, as he has new territory to introduce himself to. He shedded the entirety of Rappahannock county to pick up several precincts in Warren, and shed the area east of Elkton in exchange for areas just north and east of Timberville and Broadway. However, this process actually made his district MORE Republican, as the old District was 72% for McDonnell in 2009–now its 74%. It went 62% for McCain. Since Gilbert will be on the ballot for the first time in some areas, past results may not be the best predictor, but with Shenandoah County making up more than half of the district (and Page makes another 30%), they’re not bad. Gilbert scored 60% in 2005 and 69% in 2009. He was unopposed in 2007. Again, this district will be a toughie for any challenger, barring any unforseen circumstances. For a more in-depth look at the district, check out VPAP’s profile.

Gilbert is a career prosecutor, having worked in Lynchburg, Shenandoah, Warren and now Frederick. He is an alum of the University of Virginia and Southern Methodist University School of Law. He attended Central High School in Woodstock. He also served as the chair of the Shenandoah County Republican Committee. While in the House Gilbert has been part of the conservative wing, though the differences between conservatives and moderates in the House is far less pronounced (read: there just aren’t as many). Given his background as a prosecutor, its not surprise that Gilbert is largely focused on criminal justice issues, particularly on drugs and immigration. He’s also become something of a go-to on firearms. He serves on the Courts of Justice; Priveleges and Elections; Militia, Police and Public Safety; and General Laws committees. Check out his record since 2006 here at Richmond Sunlight.  Gilbert had roughly $24k on hand as of March 31st. Check out his donors on VPAP.

The filing deadline for both seats is June 15th. See the calls below for more information. It is widely expected neither Gilbert nor Obenshain will be challenged for their respective nominations. Keep coming back to Shenandoah Sunshine for more coverage if/when any other candidates emerge.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have worked for Todd Gilbert and his campaign in a paid capacity in the past and consider him a good friend. Additionally, I have been a volunteer on the campaigns of Senator Obenshain in the past. However, we will bring you announcements of all candidates as we receive them, as well as information later today about the Democratic party process.