Eight years ago in August 2001 at Buffalo Gap High School, hundreds of citizens turned out to cast their votes for the two Republican candidates running for the newly-created 20th House District seat. Their choices were Chris Saxman or Charles Curry ... and Chris Saxman won by an overwhelming vote. He went on to resoundingly win over Democrat Tracy Pyles in November.
Tonight at Buffalo Gap High School, an unknown number of citizens will turn out, not with the possibility of voting, but to listen to the seven candidates who have thrown their names in the hat to be considered by the 20th House Legislative District committee who will then select one candidate.
I worked that mass meeting in 2001 as a volunteer for Chris Saxman ... and my memories are flashing back to eight years ago. As I drove to Buffalo Gap High School Sunday afternoon, I remembered the 35-year-old energetic, enthusiastic young man who had walked all over the 20th District knocking on doors, talking with folks, and asking for their vote and support. His energy was boundless, and we were caught up in it. After the mass meeting at Buffalo Gap that night, we all met at The Depot restaurant in Staunton for a celebration gathering ... and then we rolled up our sleeves and got back to work. Chris ran for the finish line ... and we ran with him.
Along the way, tragedy struck America as 9/11 occurred shortly after the mass meeting win. That horror affected me deeply and made me realize how very important it was to be involved in the political process as I saw that the future safety of our country depended on those who were our leaders. President George W. Bush stood firm against terrorism that fall ... I knew I would be comfortable having Chris Saxman in Virginia leadership.
Tonight Dickie Bell, Staunton councilman, will be on stage asking to be the candidate along with a familiar face from eight years ago, Charles Curry, as well as five other candidates including John Beghtol, Cliff Fretwell, Ray Ergenbright, Chuck Hawkins, and David Karaffa.
The 20th House District takes in all of Highland, the eastern part of Augusta, part of Rockingham, and all of Staunton.
Tonight's forum begins at 7 pm at Buffalo Gap High School located on Rt. 42. The public is encouraged to attend.