By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Citizens will have the chance to take their pick from nine candidates, two of them incumbents, for three open town council seats on May 1.
The candidates are: Linda J. Allen, Daryl L. Funk, Ronald J. Harvey, Chris W. Holloway, Bret W. Hrbek, Carson L. Lauder, Robert M. Tennett, Eugene R. Tewalt and Manuel D. Vicente.
Lauder and Holloway are hoping to maintain their seats on council, and cite recent development and better relations between the town and county as reasons for why they should remain.
Both men agreed that bringing jobs to the town is an issue that warrants the most attention.
Holloway said he will stand firm in never voting for a tax increase if reelected, and asked citizens at a candidate forum on April 3 if they wanted to move forward or backward.
"Our current council is moving forward," he said.
Lauder described the importance of his campaign sign, which states his name and a slogan, "Working for you."
"I signed that because it's a commitment, a contract, between me and you," he said to citizens.
Tewalt and Hrbek both have past experience with town government, as Tewalt has been the mayor and Hrbek has served on council.
The remaining candidates are new to council, but all seem aware of the town's major issues; it's their means of solving those issues that vary.
Hrbek suggested that "quality, industry jobs" could be brought to the area through development of a research center, while Funk said he thinks his attorney background will help in bringing life back to the old Avtex site.
Vicente, who was born in Cuba, said his "command of English and Spanish" would be useful in communicating with current and future businesses.
Tewalt said the town needed to focus attention on small businesses as they are "the backbone of America."
Several candidates have brought up an issue dealing with the 340/522 corridor, and more specifically, a cost analysis study done by Walter Duncan that suggests town citizens pay "too much" for the water and sewer system. The study has led town official to consider an annexation of the corridor.
When asked for their position on the annexation, all candidates said they were not in favor, except for Hrbek, who boldly said "We should've done it in the 70s...the citizens are getting a raw deal out there."
Several developments are proposed or under way in Front Royal, and most candidates see room for additional expansion as long as it's done in the right way.
Allen and Harvey are both in favor of growth, but with a very specific plan. Lauder listed the Avtex site, the Happy Creek Corridor and downtown area as opportunities to "paint a picture," and Tewalt agreed that downtown buildings as well as the town's corridors needed attention.
"I'm for growth because I'm pro-life," Vicente said. However, he also expressed feelings against the town getting any bigger, and said he would rather see it "maintain a small-town charming atmosphere."
"You either grow or you die," Hrbek said.
Multiple ideas were tossed around as to how the town can continue bringing tourists to the area.
Specifically, Harvey said he wants the "eyesore of the Afton Inn" renovated and turned into a tourism center. He said he also wants Front Royal to play up its title as "the canoe capital of Virginia."
"We have more stories to tell and assets to define than the towns around us," Allen said, and Funk agreed in using the area's Civil War history as an example.
Funk also said that caring for the town's elderly citizens should be one of its top priorities, along with creating a business-friendly environment and giving the youth of Front Royal more recreational options.
Tennett encouraged citizens to come out on May 1 to vote, and Allen said she hopes residents will "question us on our knowledge of the town's issues, and compare our answers."