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Posted April 25, 2012 | 53 Comments
Darr, Ratigan face off in Front Royal mayoral campaign
By Joe Beck - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL - The town has two candidates for mayor who share a first name of Timothy, but other similarities are much harder to find.
Before winning election as mayor, Darr also won terms on the school board from 2000 to 2004 and the town council from 2004 to 2008.
Ratigan said Darr ignored a voter survey sent to about 9,000 residents. The survey showed 560 in favor of moving the elections and 260 opposed. Darr's vote showed an inability to lead, and the issue continues to come up among voters he meets, Ratigan said.
"The mayor broke the tie against the wishes of the majority of the people. That was a sticking point," Ratigan said.
Ratigan is also critical of the council's decision to fire former town manager Michael Graham, although Darr did not vote on that decision.
"Mike Graham was moving the town forward," Ratigan said. "We were seeing repairs to the roads done on a timely basis. People were taking more pride in the town. These are things that Front Royal citizens notice because they drive on the roads on a regular basis."
Darr said he is trying to run a campaign that avoids criticizing Ratigan, but showed irritation over what he called the challenger's failure to offer any meaningful answers to the problems he identifies.
"If you're going to offer problems, then offer solutions," Darr said.
The firing of Graham came during a period of turnover among other key personnel. They included Town Attorney Thomas Robinett, who left to take a job as town manager and town attorney in Onancock.
Darr said he has been effective in improving trust and building relationships among council members.
"I think we're working more as a professional unit, and I'm kind of proud of that," Darr said. "Several months before the last election, the town was in a state of flux with infighting among town council members. I think some of those things, through my management skill, have settled down a bit."
The two candidates also disagree about the how much money the town will spend to extend water lines along the U.S 522/340 corridor north of town. Ratigan promises to investigate "the current situation . . with regard to supplying the county with water for their economic development."
Darr said relations between the county and city have improved in the last two years. He cites the county's willingness to take over the Samuels Public Library as one example of progress.
As for extending water lines north, Darr said the town is committed to providing water to businesses along the highway as part of a 1995 agreement. He said town and county officials are trying to find ways by which the town can benefit from growth in the corridor.
"The county is working with us there," Darr said. "There are no real solutions yet, but we're working toward it, which is more than what we were doing two years ago."