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Shenandoah County commonwealth's attorney candidates resume sparring

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Jeremy McCleary






Amanda McDonald Wiseley
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Amanda McDonald Wiseley


By Preston Knight -- pknight@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- A month before Shenandoah County voters will make a decision on their next commonwealth's attorney, the verbal sparring that marked the campaign early on has resumed.

Woodstock Mayor Jeremy McCleary, who is the GOP nominee to succeed the retiring Albert T. Mitchell, and independent candidate Amanda McDonald Wiseley are at odds on whether a recent phone poll paid for by Wiseley strayed off script to deceive voters into thinking her opponent was a Democrat and she a Republican.

In a Sept. 28 email to a handful of supporters, McCleary said Wiseley resorted to the "lowest form of political tactics" by targeting Republican voters and trying to confuse them.

He said one voter approached him about being lied to regarding the candidates' party affiliation during the poll, which prompted the email to determine if more people experienced the same thing.

When reached by phone Tuesday, a voter who McCleary said received the polling call in question declined to comment unless she could remain anonymous. Also when reached by phone, a man who Wiseley said set up her poll declined to comment without anonymity.

The poll's script was four simple questions -- if the person planned to vote, his or her thoughts on Wiseley, their opinion of McCleary and then which way he or she would vote, Wiseley said. McCleary said only the one person has acknowledged hearing the comment that went away from the script.

Wiseley answered Monday afternoon by lashing out in a news release distributed by her husband and law partner, Eric. She called McCleary's email "deceitful and shameful."

"[H]is despicable tactics have forced me to defend myself," the release states. "My opponent's allegation that the pollsters made the false statement he attributes to me is a pathetic lie, and I demand an immediate apology from Jeremy McCleary."
Instead, McCleary criticized Wiseley for deliberately distorting the facts.

"Unfortunately, my opponent is trying to grab attention through name-calling in a misleading and untruthful press release," McCleary said in an email Tuesday. "The office of Commonwealth's Attorney is a serious job and I believe the people of Shenandoah County want a prosecutor who will not resort to such impulsive and extreme behavior. ... The purpose of my email was simply to gather information to determine the nature of my opponent's poll. My opponent has now distorted these events and for some reason, despite all the evidence to the contrary, claims that I made this up."

Wiseley is no stranger to strong words. A former secretary of the county GOP, she backed away from seeking the party's nomination this summer after accusing other candidates of a "whispering campaign" against her. Her release Monday placed blame for that on McCleary, which he also denies.

Wiseley took a swipe at her opponent's background in her release, asking whether a year as mayor outweighs her nine years of courtroom experience. McCleary is also an attorney who prosecutes cases for the town of Strasburg.

"This election is a choice between a slick politician and an experienced attorney, politically-anointed versus courtroom-proven," Wiseley's release states.

McCleary, however, says his own experience makes him better qualified as a prosecutor.

"I am the only candidate with experience as a prosecutor and, sadly, my opponent is doing everything she can to take the focus off of that fact," he said.




12 Comments



I was an Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney in Shenandoah County for a year. During that year I sat at the same table that Mr. McCleary did while he prosecuted traffic offenses for the Town of Strasburg. What I observed of him in court leads me to believe that he is not qualified to be the county's Commonwealth Attorney. He doesn't have the legal experience or skill needed to be the top prosecutor for the county. The Commonwealth's Attorney needs to be able to handle more than minor traffic offenses, such as non-traffic misdemeanors and felonies. McCleary has little or no experience with anything other than traffic cases. I do not believe he has ever done a criminal jury trial either. Amanda Wiseley has years of criminal legal experience. And as a former Public Defender before I became a prosecutor, I can inform you that being a defense attorney is VERY valuable experience for a prosecutor.

Amanda Wisely is not running as Republican, but she has been active in the Republican party. Basically there are 2 Republicans running. One as a Republican and one as an independent. Peoiple need to drop party thinking in this election and vote for the best person for the job, who happens to be Amanda Wiseley.

I believe in an earlier release Mrs. Wiseley stated that she prosecuted for the City of Richmond.

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Sheriff Carter and Delegate Todd Gilbert, an experienced prosecutor, support Mr. McCleary for Commonwealth’s Attorney. I will take their word over this guy Michael Fleming’s any day!

His post is filled with poor grammar and numerous misspellings (he even misspelled Wiseley’s name).

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You mean Todd Gilbert, who just got Kurt Angle's charge reduced from DUI to reckless driving??? I am sorry have used Amanda Wiseley as an attorney and she was great. She actually wants to make a difference rather than letting killers like Jody Bradley only do 9 years...that is a slap on the wrist, or child molesters take plea deals, Shenandoah county is famous for that.

Sheriff Carter and Mr. Gilbert are political endorsements. Neither has seen Mr. McCleary defend or prosecute anything other than a traffic case, because he never has.

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Michael Fleming reduced the charge for Angle and “refused to comment on the reasons for amending the charge.” Mr. Fleming has zero credibility with me!

McCleary is running on the following: (1) prosecution experience; (2) that he is the Mayor of Woodstock; and (3) that he is endorsed by Gilbert, Carter and Obenshain. But in reality he ONLY handles traffic and minor misdemeanor cases for the Town of Strasburg...a job he got because of his MENTOR, Jay Neal and who cares that he is MAYOR of Woodstock...small town mayors are usually only the towns Spokeperson, and he ran UNOPPOSED for that office...and Carter and Gilbert have NO choice than support him as the Republican GOLDEN BOY...because if they do not...the Shenandoah County Republican Committee will boot them out too. Where is Mr. McCleary's OFFICE; how many staff members does he supervisor; who has he EVER hired or fired, to qualify him to run any major county office?...how many jury trials has he ever tried...you don't have too many of those in CIVIL court?...and why did he graduate from law school in 2005...but he never started practicing until the end of 2008 or early January 2009? Less than THREE years of law experience...in CIVIL practice...does NOT make him the best candidate. Prosecuting minor traffic offenses or DUI's is not close to the same has prosecuting a major drug or rape case. I'll give him this...he is a good talker, but he talks around a lot of truths.

Without any party affilation or supporter of either and respect for the opinions of all of the above, who would you want to prosecute your family member or loved one's alledged murder in January of 2012? The current assistant commonwealth attorney and former public defender with actual courtroom experince with both candidates supports Wiseley. The current criminal defense laywer, former assistant commonwealth attorney, and repblican politican loyally supports his parties' candidate. I wonder how Delegate Gilbert would cadidly respond to my hypothetical question.

Sherrif Carter and Delegate Gilbert endorsed McCleary because they had too...that letter in parentheses beside their name obligated them to do so. (R). Secondly, I don't believe McCleary has prosecuted any felony cases, EVER! Any concerned citizen in Shenandoah County should look beyond party lines...if there's any to even look past because Amanda Wiseley is a Republican; she's running as an Independent. McCleary is the Mayor of Woodstock...by default! He ran unopposed. Granted, he's done well in that position, but, please tell me how a Mayor translates into being experienced and qualified to be the Chief Prosecutor for Shenandoah County? Clearly, it does not. Amanda Wiseley is the better candidate for the job of Commonwealth Attorney.

Wow to me it sounds like so many people are uninformed. Vote for the better person. One who will not make up lies about the other, then to top it off deny it!!

Maybe Abby should ask Mr. Gilbert why the charges were reduced since he represents Kurt Angle. I noticed that Mr. Gilbert also made no comment about the change. I'd bet that he asked for the reduction.

And their endorsements have nothing to do with the fact they are Republican candiates who HAVE to support him. I believe the Committee By-laws require that they do...



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