Category: Harrisonburg Politics
When Charles Hendricks meets a client who wants to build a house, it’s usually just a casual rap about their life: No drafting, no visualization, not even a plan for what the house will look like by the end. Rather than wasted time, Hendricks says his clients understand the method to the madness when he comes back with full blueprints of a design.
Mayor Deanna Reed, one of five candidates contending for three seats on the Harrisonburg City Council, says she has plenty of unfinished business — in part as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The candidates campaigning for the three city council seats up for election on Nov. 3 participated in a virtual forum Wednesday night – the second such event this month involving all five candidates. Two incumbents, Mayor Deanna Reed (D) and George Hirschmann (I), and three first-time candidates, Democrats Laura Dent and Charles Hendricks, plus Republican Kathleen Kelley, largely agreed on topics ranging from how to help low-income residents in Harrisonburg to transportation priorities.
Before moving to Harrisonburg in 2006, Laura Dent had known the Friendly City for most of her life as the halfway point between her hometown of Montgomery, Ala., and her alma mater, Harvard University. And when a job as a technical writer for Rosetta Stone brought her to town, it felt like the culmination of two lifelong passions – her decades-long career as a technical writer and a fascination with international language and culture after multiple trips abroad.
More than 5,400 Harrisonburg residents have already cast their ballots since early voting began last month, according to figures the city registrar’s office provided to The Citizen. That includes 3,507 voters who cast their ballots early in-person at City Hall, as of Thursday. Another 1,167 absentee ballots — out of the 4,102 that were mailed out — have already been returned by mail and 861 people have delivered their ballots in person.
George Hirschmann, the city council member running for re-election as an independent, cast one of the two dissenting votes when the council narrowly approved the high school’s construction in December. And while he said he’d rather see the city build an annex than a separate new high school, it’s not that he’s against investing tax dollars in the community.
When we began a project this spring to study if Harrisonburg and Rockingham County residents could find common ground on contentious, politicized and polarized issues, we were nervous that we might find what we feared: the Valley is too politically divided to solve its more pressing problems.
After facing criticism for her Facebook posts promoting QAnon and far-right political memes, council candidate Kathleen Kelley has set her once-public profile to private. Kelley said she did so after the backlash reached those close to her.