Several key seats up for grabs in Nov. 3 election

Henrico voters will go to the polls Nov. 3 to cast their ballots in a number of local and state elections, including several key races that could change the shape of local leadership.

All 10 seats on the Board of Supervisors and School Board are up for election, and five are contested. Perhaps the most notable race is taking place in the Three Chopt District, where three men are vying to replace longtime Republican Supervisor Dave Kaechele, who is retiring after 36 years and nine terms on the board.

Kaechele’s choice to replace himself on the board, Planning Commission member Tommy Branin (also a Republican) is opposed by Democrat Bob Shippee, recently retired from an analytical role with Capital One, and independent Eric Rohnacher, a financial advisor. One of the men will represent the most prosperous of Henrico’s five magisterial districts and the one that contains its most public face – Short Pump.

Branin serves as vice president of his family’s construction materials business and has served on the Planning Commission since 2005. He has vowed to work for smart growth in the district and to seek ways to reduce traffic congestion, including by pushing for a new interchange near I-64/I-295 in Short Pump and requiring developers to include transportation upgrades as part of new projects.

Rohacher has pledged to find ways to make the district more desirable to millennials by making it more walkable and bikeable. Shippee is concerned about recent crowding issues in the district’s schools and has said he would work closely with School Board members to address the issue, while shifting the district to a sustainable growth plan.

Other contested races in the Brookland District (where Democrat Danny Plaugher, the executive director of Virginians for High Speed Rail, is challenging seven-term Supervisor Dick Glover) and Fairfield (where real estate firm operations manager John Dantzler, an independent, is challenging five-term Democrat Frank Thornton, a retired professor) could change the look of the board dramatically or re-affirm the strength of the incumbents.

Plaugher’s well-organized campaign is attempting to appeal to younger residents and would-be residents of the Brookland District. Plaugher has championed the idea of redevelopment in the district – including the idea of fostering a “mini Short Pump” – and installing more sidewalks and streetlights to help raise property values and make the region more desirable.

Glover has pointed to the Libbie Mill development as an example of the type of mixed-use development that is taking place in the district under his watch. He has vowed to continue to seek and deliver economic development opportunities for the district.

Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O’Bannon and Varina District Supervisor Tyrone Nelson are running unopposed.

Commonwealth’s Attorney
The race for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney pits incumbent first-term Democrat Shannon Taylor, a surprise winner four years ago in a three-way race, against Republican nominee Tony Pham, who defeated opponent Jeff Everhart by 67 votes in a three-way race to win the nomination this summer.

Taylor told the Citizen that she has kept her promises to citizens by ensuring that her office reflects the county’s diversity and by working to help treat those suffering from drug and mental health disorders through the justice system. She cited the office’s 100-percent conviction rate on murder charges that reached trial during her time in office and said she has been active in engaging the community through various meetings and outreach efforts.

Pham, the current counsel for Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody and a former Richmond prosecutor, said that while Taylor has touted her efforts toward diversity, the office “has yet to change its direction to become more engaged.” He criticized her decision to fire a number of prosecutors when she took over in 2012, alleging that the decision removed 125 years of experience and disrupted the public safety system. He’s vowed to assign deputy prosecutors to a specific
magisterial district, in addition to their other responsibilities, as a way to make the office more visible throughout the county.

Sheriff
Four-term incumbent Republican Sheriff Mike Wade is being challenged by Democrat James Layne, a lieutenant with the Virginia Division of Capitol Police, where he has spent his 30-year career.

Wade has touted his drug treatment program for inmates, which has been attended by more than 10,000 during his 16 years in office, he said.

“I have worked hard to create the best re-entry program possible,” he told the Citizen. Wade recently started a citizens’ academy centered on re-entry efforts to train citizens about the needs of recently released inmates. Under Wade’s watch, the Henrico jails have been nationally accredited and re-accredited.

Layne has vowed to make safe, secure jails his priority and said that he would implement new policies for handling mentally ill patients and work to ensure that illegal drugs do not enter the jails. He said he would seek to transfer mentally ill patients to psychiatric institutions.

School Board
Three School Board members – Beverly Cocke (Brookland), Lisa Marshall (Tuckahoe) and Micky Ogburn (Three Chopt) are running unopposed for new four-year terms.

Three candidates – Tara Adams, Roscoe Cooper III and Marcus Martin – are on the ballot to serve as the Fairfield District board member, and current interim board member Pierre Greene is running a write-in campaign to seek the seat on a permanent basis. Greene was appointed by the board this summer to serve the rest of the year after Lamont Bagby resigned when he was elected to the House of Delegates in a special election in the 74th District.

Varina District member John Montgomery is seeking his third term on the board and facing opposition from Ralph Hodge, an educator and longtime Varina resident.

Other races
Republican Heidi Barshinger, a former prosecutor in the county’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office who lost her job when Taylor took office, is seeking the eight-year term as Clerk of the Circuit Court in a race against Democrat Tinesha Jackson, a paralegal in the Henrico County Attorney’s Office.

Henrico voters also will help elect members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Senate. The race for the 12th District Senate seat (which includes a large portion of western Henrico) pits Republican nominee Siobhan Dunnavant against Democrat Deborah Repp. Dunnavant is the choice of longtime Senator Walter Stosch, who resigned from the seat.

Candidate Q&A coming next week
The Henrico Citizen has offered all candidates for local office – Henrico County Board of Supervisors, School Board, sheriff, Commonwealth’s Attorney and Clerk of Court – and all candidates for the Virginia General Assembly whose districts include portions of Henrico County to complete a questionnaire outlining their priorities if elected.

The responses of those who have completed the questionnaire will appear on HenricoCitizen.com later this month. Be sure to visit the website to hear from these candidates in their own words.
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Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27


The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair


Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21


Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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Kick start your Weekend on Wednesday at the Short Pump W.O.W. from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Short Pump Park, 3329 Pump Rd. Kids can explore the playground and four-legged friends can run in the dog park while you check out local food trucks for dinner. Danny Kensy will provide the entertainment. For details, call 652-1441 or visit http://www.henrico.us/rec. Full text

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