FRONT ROYAL - Over 20 candidates are seeking to become Warren County's newest elected officials in Tuesday's election.
Public interest has heightened as citizens are calling for accountability and transparency from government officials in the wake of a scandal at the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority in which $21.3 million was allegedly stolen or misappropriated.
Positions up for grabs in contested races include the sheriff, the mayorship, the Circuit Court clerk and Board of Supervisors seats.
Running for sheriff are Democrat Jorge Amselle, 50; Republican Jason Poe, 39; independent Mark Butler, 49; and independent Michael “Mickey” Licklider, 61.
The winner will take the helm from Interim Sheriff Mike Arnold, who assumed the position in May upon former Sheriff Daniel McEathron's retirement.
McEathron, who served for 16 years, committed suicide in May, about two months after the EDA accused him of using authority credit lines for personal land purchases with former EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.
Amselle is the lone candidate who has not been a police officer, having worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. Poe, a Winchester Police Department corporal, previously worked for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years. Butler is an Army veteran with nearly 20 years of law enforcement experience as an officer with the Town of Herndon Police Department and the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office. Licklider, a security deputy at the courthouse, has worked at the Warren County Sheriff's Office for 32 years.
Two supervisors - North River district’s Dan Murray and South River district’s Linda Glavis - are not seeking reelection, making Shenandoah district Supervisor Tom Sayre the lone incumbent.
Sayre, 56, who is wrapping up his freshman term as supervisor, is running against Walter Mabe, 66. While Sayre also previously served on the Town Council, Mabe is a newcomer to politics and has never held and elected seat.
Sayre, the Warren County GOP's nominee, has said he asked hard questions about the EDA, resulting in McDonald's attempt to frame him in crimes, and it would not be fair to vote out everyone who held an elected role during the embezzlement. Mabe, an independent, has said he has the skills to “clean house” on the Board of Supervisors and EDA board and that Sayre clearly did not do enough to stop corruption.
Seeking to become North River district’s supervisor are Delores Oates, 56, and Shae Parker, 47. Oates, the GOP's nominee, is seeking her first term in elected office while Parker, an independent, served as a councilman from 2008-2013, including a stint as vice mayor from 2011-2013.
The three candidates vying to become South River’s supervisor are independents Leslie Mathews, 49, and Cheryl Cullers, 60, and Republican Robert Hupman, 33.
The mayor’s seat is open in a special election as former Mayor Hollis Tharpe resigned from the position in April. Tharpe, 68, is now seeking to regain that seat against Councilman Eugene Tewalt, 76. Both have served as mayor and councilmen.
Candidates for Circuit Court clerk are Stephen Jerome, 51, Angie Moore, 49, and Janice Shanks, 61. Jerome, the GOP's nominee, is a lawyer with Joseph F. Silek Jr. P.C. Moore, an independent, is a Winchester and Frederick County District Court deputy clerk. Shanks, an independent who sought the GOP’s nomination, is serving as the Warren County Circuit Court’s interim clerk.
The clerkship became available upon former clerk Daryl Funk's appointment as a judge earlier this year.
There are also several uncontested races with Jamie Spiker running for treasurer, Sherry Sours for commissioner of revenue, John Bell for commonwealth's attorney, and Richard Hoover and Ira B. Richards III for two Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District seats.