Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

Visit our Facebook page.

RSS feed of this blog

Fredericksburg voters weigh in at the polls

By lunchtime, poll workers around Fredericksburg were saying that turnout was high, especially for an election without a presidential race.

There was a steady stream of voters at Walker-Grant Middle School and the Dorothy Hart Community Center in Fredericksburg during lunch time. Between 11 am. and noon, voters were trickling into the other precincts.

Precinct 101: Hugh Mercer Elementary

Ken Steen, 55, said he’s a Republican and voted for Republicans for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. He said he supported Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for governor because of the economy and current Gov. Bob McDonnell’s handling of it.

Cuccinelli’s two younger brothers, Kevin Cuccinelli and Kris Cuccinelli, stopped by Hugh Mercer Elementary at lunch time. Kevin Cuccinelli said they were checking in at various polling places.

Steen said he supported treasurer candidate Brenda Wood because of her visibility. He also supported incumbent Sheriff Paul Higgs saying, “he’s got a good record, solid record.”

Treasurer candidate Rita Girard, left, speaks with Amr Ahmed, a McAuliffe campaign observer who spent the day at Hugh Mercer Elementary.

Treasurer candidate Rita Girard was greeting voters at Hugh Mercer around lunch time.

Elizabeth Lewis celebrated her 49th birthday on Tuesday and voted for Girard. She said she met her when Girard campaigned in her neighborhood and also took note of the people who supported her including Commonwealth’s Attorney LaBravia Jenkins and Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw.

Lewis also supported incumbent Higgs for sheriff.

“I didn’t have any reason to think he hadn’t done a good job,” she said.

James Washington, 72, said he’s a Democrat and voted for Terry McAuliffe because “I like his standards. I would like to see more money to go to support the schools.”

He voted for Girard for treasurer and Higgs for sheriff.

In Precinct 101, 681 people had voted by 12:30 p.m., according to election official Scott Vezina. He said the precinct has 4,214 active voters. He predicted about 45 percent of those voters would cast a ballot by the time the polls closed.

PRECINCT 201: Dorothy Hart Community Center

At noon, 816 people had voted at Dorothy Hart Community Center, in Ward 2 of the city. There are 4,115 voters registered there, poll workers said.

Three University of Mary Washington students turned out to vote there.

“I think Ken Cuccinelli is extremely dangerous for women and their health and I want to make sure he is not in a position of power to make decisions in my life,” said Paige McKinsey, 21.

“I came to vote because I think a lot of the issues are very relative to me personally, right now,” said Hannah Freedman, 20.

She said that gave her extra motivation to vote.

“I believe it’s my responsibility as a citizen to make the changes I want to see,” said Yesenia Argueta, 19. “I know I did as much as I could to make things happen,” she said.

McKinsey said she thought in the gubernatorial election, the candidates were so “black and white” in their differences.

She said she didn’t pay attention to the local races.


At Walker Grant, 723 voters had turned out by 12:30 p.m. There are 3,703 voters registered there, poll workers said.

A poll worker said the precinct was expecting about 1,200 voters, so to have that many by lunchtime was a surprise.

Robin Brizendine, 19, voted there.

“I’d like to just see change in our government. If we start in Fredericksburg, maybe we’ll get somewhere,” she said.

She said she voted in only one race — the gubernatorial election.

Richard and Dayle Reschick also voted at Walker-Grant.

“There’s a lot of important issues: taxes, Obamacare,” said Richard Reschick, about why he voted.

The commercials aired by the statewide campaigns had an impact on them.

“I think I had to do a lot of research of what the candidate stood for because the negative ads didn’t tell me anything,” said Dayle Reschick.

“The lies on the commercials were very disgusting,” Richard Reschick said.

In regard to the local races, Dayle said they had lived in the city for more than 30 years and knew the candidates.

Both candidates in the sheriff’s race were campaigning at the middle school in the lunch hour.

PRECINCT 401: New City Fellowship Church

Idris Abdulshakur, 12

With school out for the day, seventh-graders from Walker Grant were soaking up the electoral atmosphere for civics class. Idris Abdulshakur, 12, said he was enjoying the experience as he stood outside New City Fellowship.

“I got to go inside and see how they actually vote,” he said. “That was cool.”

Voters were trickling in during the 11 o’clock hour but turnout was higher than normal for a non-presidential election year, precinct chairman Rene Rodriguez said.

He said 343 people had voted by 11:15 a.m. out of 2,303 registered in that precinct.

Treasurer candidate Brenda Wood, right, was greeting voters at Precinct 401 at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

Attorney Carolyn Seklii, a Democrat, said she voted a straight ticket in the statewide races but declined to say how she voted in the city treasurer’s race.

She voted for incumbent Paul Higgs in the sheriff’s race, saying, “I think the people who work for him like him and that’s important.”

Stuart Sullivan, who shares a law office with Seklii, said he’s a Democrat and also voted the straight ticket for the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.  But, like Seklii, he declined to say how he voted for city treasurer.

However, he summed up the race by saying, “It’s a pretty stark contrast between experience and a breath of fresh air.”

Diallo Turner, 35, another Democrat, said he supported Terry McAuliffe for governor for his views on jobs and “his help in working to restore the rights of those who couldn’t vote. I’m definitely for that.”

Turner said he voted for Rita Girard for treasurer “cause she’s cute.”

“Anyone who gets that old and still looks like that definitely knows what they’re doing,” he said. Girard is 60.

He supported challenger Ron Swaney for sheriff based on personal experience.

“I’ve dealt with him over the years, being an ex-felon. He always listens. He doesn’t come on the scene with a prejudgment. His knowledge of the community allows him to have an open mind.”

PRECINCT 402: V.F.W. Post 3103

Margaret Nydell, 70, is a Democrat and supported Democrats in the statewide races. She said she’s a McAuliffe supporter “because he was associated with the Clintons and I’m vehemently against Cuccinelli.”

She called Cuccinelli  ”a disaster” on women’s issues, regulation issues and disliked his support for Republicans in Congress.

She said she didn’t remember who she supported in the city treasurer and sheriff races.

Josh Thiele, 38, called himself a Democrat leaning toward independent. However, he said he voted for Democrats for the state’s three top offices.

“I like the way Terry McAuliffe ran the campaign. I thought he was articulate. He managed a high-profile campaign in a professional manner.”

In Precinct 402, 177 people had voted as of 11:45 a.m., according to the precinct’s chief voting official, Diane Wilson. She said that precinct has 1,619 registered voters.

-Compiled by Pamela Gould and Robyn Sidersky