Front Royal candidates talk issues

Mike McCool

FRONT ROYAL – The five town council candidates spoke about plans for a new police station, rental housing, tourism and other issues at a forum hosted Tuesday night by the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce.

The candidates included incumbent council members Eugene R. Tewalt and Jacob L. “Jake” Mezza.

Michael D. “Mike” McCool, William A. Sealock Jr. and Robert M. Tennett Jr. are the other candidates.

All of the candidates endorsed a proposed new police station but several said they were troubled by the absence of information about the financing, something they insisted on knowing before voting on the project.

“I’m a firm believer we need to know where the money is coming from before we go ahead with it,” Tewalt said.

Eugene Tewalt

Sealock, a member of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Commission Authority Board of Directors, said he was “very concerned” about whether the project is “going to cost $5 million, $10 million or $12 million,” adding that the architects needed to provide such details.

Tennett, who has been a candidate in other council elections, said the recently built county public safety building had boosted morale among members of the Sheriff’s Office who work in it.

“Our police department needs that also,” Tennett said.

All of the candidates supported stepped up inspections of rental housing. Several cited examples of squalid conditions in some rental residences that harm both the tenants and drag down the value of surrounding property.

McCool, who ran for county commissioner of revenue two years, called much of the town’s rental housing “subpar.”

Jacob "Jake" Meza

“Most of these are absentee owners,” McCool added.

In a related matter, several of the candidates cited the need to provide quality, affordable housing for professional people working in the area.

Sealock noted that 60 percent of the county’s public school teachers live outside of town.

“They can’t find housing at a reasonable cost,” Sealock said.

Mezza, replying to a question about the strengths and weaknesses of the town, also cited the need for more and better workforce housing.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or

William Sealock Jr.

Robert Tennett Jr.