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Republicans rally around candidates

It was a beautiful evening Saturday (Sept. 23) at the Layz S Ranch and Fluvanna Republicans took advantage of it.

At the annual Fluvanna Republican fundraiser there was food, like-minded folks, candidates and lots of “Hurrah for our side!”

Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) is running unopposed. 

“We need to do all we can do to get three conservatives on the Board of Supervisors,” he said, nodding to fellow conservative Supervisor Patricia Eager (Palmyra). 

Darryl Byers is running against incumbent Tony O’Brien for the Rivanna seat on the Board of Supervisors. Byers said his platform is made up of three core issues: educating children, the safety and welfare of the community, and maintaining and building upon infrastructure. 

“It’s a great thing we’re bringing water to Zion Crossroads, but we should not have the field of dreams philosophy – if we build it they will come,” he said.

Byers said it’s important to make Fluvanna attractive to businesses with a low, stable tax rate. “Businesses look to build where they can live, work and play,” he said. “We need to reduce our taxes while maintaining core services.”

Byers said he will reveal his plan on how to do that at a later date. 

“Have the courage to step up and do the right thing and vote for me; vote for anyone with an ‘R’ next to their name,” he said. “We need to clean up this county and get it right.”

Michael Goad stood in for candidate Andrew Pullen who is running for the School Board seat in Columbia.

Goad said an article in the Fluvanna Review detailing the race didn’t tell the whole story. When asked what wasn’t correct or was left out of the story, Goad demurred and said he didn’t want to speak for Pullen.

Pullen’s opponent, Linda Staiger, will not be on the ballot because she filed the wrong financial forms. She is running a write-in campaign.

Staiger “is running for the Washington machine,” Goad said to the group, referring to former sheriff Ryant Washington and his wife and School Board member Camilla Washington. Camilla Washington decided not to run for re-election.

Goad read a message from Pullen: "I only believe in two entitlements – opportunity and the ability to define success for yourself and I believe that both can be accomplished through education… I will work to ensure that our tax dollars go to classroom instruction, the teachers, special education, the bus drivers, the mechanics, nurses and custodians before a top-heavy administration. There are some fundamental differences between my opponent and I – I am the candidate who will ensure that voluntary prayer in school is protected and that children are using the bathrooms and locker rooms with the chromosomes that God gave them."

Goad also said the Staiger campaign is getting outside help. “She has Indivisible Charlottesville coming in and working to get her elected. Don’t let them infiltrate our borders,” he said.

Tyler Pieron is running against Shirley Stewart for the Rivanna seat on the School Board being vacated by Carol Carr.

Pieron said his three young children go to Effort Christian School, but his oldest will be in Fluvanna Middle School next year. It is one reason he is running. 

Pieron said he’s heard from many parents who say their children have too many tests and teachers teach to the test. “I hear kids have an average of three tests per week,” Pieron said. 

He referred to a column by Fluvanna Review editor Christina Dimeo about how much homework her 6th grade son had and his reaction to it.

“That’s just too much pressure on a child,” Pieron said. “I believe that is a result of School Board policies that run down to teachers and then to the students.“

Pieron said last year Fluvanna County Public Schools “lost 400 students who chose to go elsewhere rather than go to Fluvanna schools.” When asked later about his claim, Pieron said he couldn’t say for sure if the students who “left” had started in Fluvanna public schools, and said he had heard the figure from a variety of sources.

“We should make it the other way around. People should be trying to get into to our schools. I’m a free market capitalist. I believe the market decides,” he said at the rally.

Also at the picnic were state candidates Del. Rob Bell (58th District) and Del. Lee Ware (65th District). Bell is being challenged by Kellen Squire and Ware is running against Francis Stevens.

Bell said he has been working on mental health reform and would like to continue.

Representatives on the Deeds Commission are “looking at how people with mental health issues end up in jail,” he said. “Our goal is to divert those who shouldn’t be there and for those who have committed a crime to make sure they get treatment.”

Bell said the commission also wants to have a crisis stabilization unit – a place where someone can check themselves in when having a mental health crisis – in every community.

Bell said the governor vetoed three bills he worked on with bipartisan support in one year.

“I’ve never had that happen before,” he said. “Work for Ed Gillespie. We’re doing everything we can to turn Fluvanna red.”

Ware said he’s working to make sure Virginians get tuition tax credits, school choice, reduced Standards of Learning tests in elementary students and that those with concealed carry permits will have those permits recognized in other states.