Business leaders in uproar over Bailey campaign ad

Bill Holtzman, president and owner of Holtzman Corp., speaks to members of the Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Woodstock Rich Cooley/Daily

Local Shenandoah County business leaders were in an uproar Thursday after discovering an ad in a local paper insinuating that they supported the campaigns of Supervisors Cindy Bailey and Marsha Shruntz. The ad was authorized and paid for by Cindy Bailey for BOS.

“That absolutely infuriates me, because I do not support them,” said Bill Holtzman, CEO of Holtzman Oil Corp. “I was horrified when I saw that ad where she was saying I had endorsed her. I have never endorsed her, never have I ever talked to her. It’s an outright lie. It’s not deceitful, it’s just totally a lie.”

A survey of more than 80 Chamber of Commerce members on Sept. 19 found that the political atmosphere on the Board of Supervisors was the greatest perceived barrier to business in Shenandoah County.

The ad listed all six members of the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Council as business leaders who shared Bailey and Shruntz’s economic development vision.

The ad stated: “These business Leaders, Bill Holtzman, Dennis Dysart, Aaron Bushong, Christopher French, Keith Stephen (sic) and Mike Thome have recognized the same pro-growth vision of Supervisors Bailey and Shruntz.”

Holtzman blasted supervisors for hindering economic growth at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Oct. 24. At the time he did not mention individual supervisors by name, but he has since stated that Bailey, Shruntz and Supervisor Richard Walker are the major impediments to economic development in the area.

“Those three supervisors are the problem, not the solution,” Holtzman said Thursday.

On Thursday, the Chamber of Commerce issued a news release also disputing Bailey’s campaign ad.

“We’ve never had to do this,” said Sharon Baroncelli, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. “Folks are very disappointed to see an elected official stoop to this level … For a candidate to do what she’s done is really distasteful and dishonest.”

The release stated that the chamber, alongside other groups, hosted three candidates’ forums for districts with Board of Supervisors and School Board elections. Bailey was the only candidate not to attend the forums. “That, point blank, is how she feels about the business community,” Baroncelli said.

Baroncelli called for Bailey to issue a retraction to the disputed campaign ad.

Bailey did not respond to phone or email requests for comment.

Of the six EDC members named in the ad as recognizing Bailey’s economic vision, three — Holtzman and two others —  stated Thursday they do not support Bailey. The other three could not be reached for comment.

French, president and CEO of Shenandoah Telecommunications Co., called the ad “factually incorrect” and said he had donated to the campaign of Bailey’s opponent, Karl Roulston.

“I do not support Cindy Bailey and her approach to how to be a Board of Supervisors member,” French said. “I have not been impressed with Ms. Bailey’s positions or her posturing and her antics on the Board of Supervisors.”

Dennis Dysart, president and CEO of First Bank, said the ad was “a misstatement or at least an incorrect implication.”

Dysart said he did not endorse Bailey, nor had he had a conversation with her campaign regarding an endorsement.

Shruntz said “no comment” when asked to respond to the advertisement and the business leaders’ comments about it.