Sunday, February 18, 2007

20th Senate District Race Has Started

If it's Saturday morning, it must be a Ruritan club breakfast. But which one? Let's see, last week it was Figsboro and the Blackberry community breakfast. The week before that Mt. Olivet and Spencer. Next week? Who knows? But don't worry Jeff; Vance Overby will keep you on schedule.

Meet Jeff Evans, candidate for the 20th Senate District. Jeff got started on this campaign well before the cold winds of winter began; he's just now broken into a stride in the race that lies ahead. I met Jeff at Honduras Coffee in Stuart one afternoon that now seems like ages ago as he was beginning his campaign.

Jeff told me then that he knew he had some hard work ahead of him. Because of his past work with the State Police and his current duties on the Carroll County Board of Supervisors he is fairly well known in his home area of Carroll, Grayson, and Wythe Counties. From the beginning of the campaign he was well aware that the keys to this race lie scattered in the many small communities on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge from Vesta to Axton. That area is the double-edged sword that hangs over his campaign. It's the area where Roscoe Reynolds is best known, but on the other hand, it's also the area where Roscoe Reynolds is best known.

The 20th Senate District is quite large, beginning in the softly rolling farmland of Axton in Henry County; it rises three quarters of a mile in elevation to Meadows of Dan and Floyd before descending into the southern New River Valley at Galax and Wythe County. It lies across the Blue Ridge Mountains like a saddle blanket.

This district is also very rural, with a couple of urban and semi-urban areas thrown into the mix for flavor. Wytheville, lying alongside I-81 and I-77 is a busy city. Galax is a full-grown city and Hillsville and Stuart and Ridgeway and Fieldale are all incorporated towns, Collinsville is larger than Stuart, and it's not even incorporated, but they all have a personality more like a village.

Even the city of Martinsville is a mere shadow of what it once was. Like Ward Armstrong, Martinsville has lost a considerable amount of weight, and not in a good way. I've never been attracted to skinny, frail women. Skinny, frail cities are even less attractive. Not only to me, but even less so to business. Businesses don't generally succumb to that phenomena known as "beer goggles".

Jeff has started his campaign by making it a point to get to every Ruritan Club function he can possibly fit into his schedule. He seldom makes a stump speech at these events, preferring instead to develop one-on-one conversations during the event. When he does speak at these breakfasts, it's always a speech laced liberally with common sense and general American values, never heavy on policy. Not yet. There is plenty of time to get into policy, after the campaign gets into full swing. Right now he simply needs to let these community leaders know exactly who he is and what he stands for. It seems to be working well for him, as I've been to most of these Saturday morning breakfasts with him and he is always well received.

The most recent Saturday morning again found Jeff eating breakfast twice, at two different Ruritan clubs. Saturday evening he and I had a great catfish dinner at Rangeley Ruritan’s benefit fish fry and dance for a member of the Rangeley community. Once again there was no Jeff Evans speech, just a cordial visit with the community. And once again he was invited back to speak to the full membership at a later date.

Who is he? And what does he stand for? I'll expound on this further in a later article, but for now I'll give you an abbreviated biography of Jeff Evans.

He is a native of Grayson County, currently living in Carroll County with his wife of 28 years, the former Janet Harmon, and their daughter, Charity. They also have a son, Aaron, who is attending West Georgia Baptist College in Douglasville, GA.

After working in various local industries in Carroll County and following a tour of duty in the United States Army, Jeff applied to the Virginia State Police. He was accepted and began his service in far southwestern Virginia at Grundy in 1978. In 1984 he transferred back to Carroll County where he retired from the State Police in 2002.

Jeff continued in public service after retirement from the State Police by running for and winning a seat on the Carroll County Board of supervisors in 2003. Now in his fourth year on the Carroll County Board of Supervisors he wants to extend his service to his home area by serving as your Senator.

Like Jeff I spent a considerable amount of time in Buchanan County. We both hold a dear affection for the coalfields and its peoples. Saturday afternoon I spent several hours with Jeff telling and re-telling stories we both have of those times. I know from experience that any outsider who is accepted in Buchanan County as one of their own is either sufficiently flexible or extremely hard, and quite possibly a combination of the two. Either way will ensure he does very well in Richmond.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will be working on the Jeff Evans campaign in an unpaid capacity. I have designed and will maintain the campaign’s website and will work with his media coordinator during the campaign when such a position is filled. There will be an advertisement banner placed on this website. That advertisement as well as all of my efforts will be fully reported as "in kind" contributions to the campaign.

From this date forward any statements made by me on this website that do not concern the 20th District Senate race are my opinions only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Jeff Evans or the Republican Party. The sole exception to this rule is the subject of Eminent Domain. My opinion is well known regarding Mr. Reynolds’ lack of concern for this subject, when and if the Evans campaign voices an opinion on the subject I will report it as such.

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