Parrish holds off Konick, Smith unseats Biniek in county supervisor contests
Incumbent Rappahannock County Supervisor Chris Parrish, who represents the Stonewall-Hawthorne district, managed to snuff out a heated last-minute write-in campaign by challenger David Konick, in doing so capturing his third term in office.
Meanwhile, after a wellrun campaign, political newcomer Christine Smith of Sperryville will become Rappahannock County’s first-ever female supervisor, unseating incumbent Piedmont district Supervisor Mike Biniek who, like Parrish, was seeking a third term in office.
Unofficial results from Tuesday’s voting, including absentee ballots, gave Smith 360 votes (53.49 percent) to Biniek’s 307 (45.62 percent). Parrish, at the same time, took home an identical 360 votes (61.02 percent) compared to Konick’s 230 (38.98 percent).
Despite heavy rainfall for much of Election Day, plus the fact that it wasn’t a presidential election year, voter turnout was impressive in both districts. Of the 1,045 active voters in the Piedmont District, 667 cast ballots (63.82 percent); while in Stonewall-Hawthorne, 590
of the district’s 1,048 voters (56.29 percent) went to the polls.
For his part, Konick gave his short lived race all of his might, considering he announced his write-in candidacy just last month. He told the Rappahannock News on the morning of Election Day that he believed he had knocked on every door in the Stonewall-Hawthorne district — “and if I missed any it was because I couldn’t find them.”
Feeling the heat of his opponent, Parrish, who until a few weeks ago had no cause to campaign for reelection, similarly set out, albeit in the race’s final days, to visit as many constituents’ homes as possible, although not knocking on nearly as many doors as Konick did.
Parrish confirmed as much when asked Tuesday night about his win, telling this newspaper: “I appreciate the competition and it keeps me on my toes.”
Reached at his Rock Mills home on Wednesday morning, Konick conceded: “We live in a democracy and the people have spoken. And I think it’s also up to Chris Parrish and the board of supervisors to interpret the results.
“I think that there’s obviously a significant part of the population that feels unrepresented and ignored by the board of supervisors — the current board of supervisors — and I’m sorry that I was not successful because I feel that I have a lot to contribute toward some positive solutions to the problems the county is facing. I hope that they take note of the fact that there’s quite a bit of dissatisfaction out there.”
Konick also wished to thank “all the people that contributed time and money . . . and encouragement to my campaign. I did the best I could in three and a half weeks. Or what was it three weeks?”
While the Parrish-Konick contest was brief, it wasn’t without controversy. The latter, an outspoken lawyer and no stranger to county government, claimed the district residents he spoke to were “a little agitated” by Parrish’s lack of leadership, and for his opponent to suggest otherwise was “sunshine and lollipop talk.”
In a recent county forum, Konick accused Parrish and his fellow supervisors of “flailing about,” especially since 2016 when former Rappahannock County Administrator John McCarthy retired.
Parrish, visibly agitated by Konick’s campaign barbs, especially surrounding taxes and the county’s budget, charged that his opponent was peddling “twisted figures.”
Smith, a married mother of two who made it known from the beginning of her first-ever political campaign that she had much respect for Biniek, pledged in the candidates’ forum that were she to be elected to the BOS she would be “competent” and “well-prepared” for county meetings, something she said was lacking in her opponent.
“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to represent Piedmont district on the Rappahannock Board of Supervisors,” Smith told the News the day after her victory.
Biniek, meanwhile, had no hard feelings for his opponent when contacted at his F.T. Valley home Wednesday morning.
“I just have to say I’m sorry how it [Election Day] went, but Christine ran a good campaign,” said the outgoing supervisor. “She’s a hard worker and I wish her all the luck.”
In the Rappahannock County School Board races, both candidates ran unopposed but appreciated all of the votes cast.
Incumbent Larry Grove, who was first elected to the board in 2013 representing the Stonewall-Hawthorne district, received 473 votes, while Rachel Bynum, a Sperryville farmer and parent of two Rappahannock County Elementary School students, captured 554 votes.
Bynum will now assume the Piedmont district seat of vice chair Aline Johnson, who decided this summer that her 18th year on the board would be her last.
At a Democratic election watch party at Headmaster’s Pub on Tuesday night, a jubilant Bynum told this newspaper that she’d just discovered her desk nameplate from the early 1990’s when as a high school junior and senior in East Hampton, Conn., she was the student representative on the school board.
“I sat on the board and they would ask me questions” from a student’s perspective, she explained. Bynum hopes to bring the wooden nameplate to her first official school board meeting early next year.
In Virginia’s House of Delegates race for the 18 District, which includes all of Rappahannock County, incumbent Republican Delegate Michael Webert easily won reelection.
With all 31 precincts reporting, Webert had garnered 16,678 votes (60.45 percent) to Democrat Tristan Shields’ 9,473 votes (34.34 percent). Despite an enthusiastic campaign, Green Party candidate Will King captured only 1,403 votes (5.08 percent).
Rappahannock County voters handed Webert 1,802 votes (55.29 percent), Shields 1,277 (39.18 percent) votes, and King 177 (5.43 percent) votes.
Webert, among other issues, has pledged to further address the growing opioid epidemic in the state, including here in Rappahannock County. He pointed out that three people die every day in Virginia from opioid overdoses.
A farmer by profession, Webert said he will also continue to lead efforts to preserve the land and the environment, supply more money to underfunded schools, and vote against tax increases.
Chris Parrish votes Tuesday at the Castleton Community Volunteer Fire Company.
Write-in candidate David Konick and supporter Lisa Glennie greet voters outside the Castleton polling station on a raw Tuesday morning.
Jubillant Rappahannock Democrats gather at Headmaster’s Pub in Sperryville for a Tuesday night election watch party.
Democratic poll watcher Francie Schroeder huddled beneath her big umbrella in Washington. Despite the rain, voting countywide was described as steady throughout the day.