PAC rally promotes candidates in Shenandoah County

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK – Three candidates running for the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors urged voters to bring new blood to the board during the “99 Days to Victory” rally at the Woodstock Brew House on Monday.

Incumbent District 1 Supervisor Dick Neese spoke to a crowd of about 120, as did Karl Roulston and Dennis Morris, who are running for the District 4 and District 5 seats, respectively.

The fundraising event was sponsored by Responsible Leadership for Shenandoah County, a political action committee founded in February that is backing Neese, Roulston and Morris’ campaigns. The rally’s name refers to the number of days left until the Nov. 7 election.

Roulston, founder of The Regulus Group systems engineering firm in Woodstock, is challenging Cindy Bailey, while Morris is challenging Marsha Shruntz. Both incumbents were elected in 2013.

All three candidates criticized Bailey and Shruntz’s performance during their freshman terms, which Craig Orndorff, the PAC’s executive director, called obstructionist and detrimental to the county.

“They’re not doing the people’s business,” he told the crowd.

A particular grievance was Bailey and Shruntz’s lack of support earlier this year for giving county schools the $31.2 million for operations and capital improvements that the School Board requested for fiscal 2018.

Bailey and Shruntz said repeatedly during budget meetings that they wanted all county departments to receive the same amount of funding in fiscal 2018 that they received in fiscal 2017. Schools ended up with $26.8 million for this fiscal year, a $562,000 increase from fiscal 2017.

Neese, who is seeking his fifth term in office, said he is fed up with gridlock on the board.

“I’m tired of 3-3 votes,” he said. “I’m tired of going into meetings knowing that they are going to vote ‘no’ every time.”

Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force sergeant and Pentagon employee from the Mount Jackson area, is challenging Neese.

Roulston, owner of The Regulus Group in Woodstock, said Bailey and Shruntz’s actions since being elected speak for themselves.

“How they have voted and what they stand for don’t line up with the values of families with children,” he said to a round of applause.

Morris served in the District 5 seat for 36 years before Shruntz defeated him in 2013. He decried what he saw as declining civility on the board since he left.

“We all had different issues, but we compromised and we respected each other,” he said. “We don’t have that now. There is no respect, and there is no leadership in District 5.”

Some guests agreed with the candidates that county government needs fresh faces. Michael Cash, 67, of Maurertown, in the 5th District, said Bailey and Shruntz should be voted out.

“They’re not going to compromise, and they don’t know enough to govern,” he said.

Rachel Stewart, 24, of Edinburg attended the rally with her brother, Zachary. An employee of The Regulus Group, she had more in mind than just supporting her boss.

“This election is extremely important,” she said. “It could be life-changing for all Shenandoah County residents and the children who go to school here.”

During a phone interview on Tuesday, Shruntz called PACs “dirty, dishonest and unlawful,” and disputed Morris’ leadership claim.

“The majority of constituents in District 5 would very much disagree with Mr. Morris,” she said.

Calls to Bailey requesting comment were not returned on Tuesday.

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