Editor: I have voted for candidates in both parties based on my evaluation of their individual policies, character and acumen. But I have never donated to a candidate, volunteered to help a campaign, placed a sign in my yard or written a letter on a politician’s behalf. Until now.
I have been intensely focused on our local representation since Del. Dave LaRock embarrassed his constituents in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection by loudly championing the Big Lie that President Biden didn’t win last year’s election. I found his initial statement blaming Antifa for the attack on our Capitol by the very people he egged on to be patently offensive and disqualifying for an elected official, and I was furious that he lacked the integrity to resign in shame. As the year went on, I also became motivated to actively work against his re-election when he grandstanded against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations at Virginia public universities, even as my child was moving into a dormitory at one of them.
In recent months, I have volunteered to help his opponent, Paul Siker, who offers a sane and commonsense alternative to LaRock, whom I believe to be wildly out-of-touch with the values of the good people of the 33rd District. For the first time, I have written a check to a candidate, and here I am, writing my first-ever letter in support of a politician. My child, eligible to vote for the first time, registered to vote and mailed an absentee ballot to vote for Siker – and, more importantly, against LaRock and the bad-faith politics he represents.
I believe my child and I reflect a growing shift in the 33rd that represents a major threat to LaRock’s re-election chances. The U.S. Census Bureau says that in the past decade, 2,500 people moved into the town of Purcellville, which LaRock won by just 62 votes in 2019 when he wasn’t facing such strong opposition. Frederick and Clarke counties, which comprise one third of the 33rd District, grew by 12,000 people combined; in Berryville, the county seat of Clarke County, LaRock won by a single vote in 2019.
While the district may still lean Republican, the influx of people who feel alienated by extremist right-wing agitation stoked by LaRock has opened the door for a credible challenge by Siker, a pragmatic, common-sense and successful businessman. There is a broad coalition supporting Siker that includes many true conservatives who are fed up with LaRock’s extremist rhetoric and behavior. To us, this election isn’t about Democrats versus Republicans. It’s about sanity versus lunacy. It’s about a candidate who lives and works in the real world versus one who traffics in conspiracy theories. It’s about ensuring we are represented by someone with sound judgment so that we get better government so that we might improve the district.
Finally, I am impressed that Siker pledges to be accessible to all constituents, including those who may not vote for him, through monthly community forums. LaRock seems to duck constituent interaction at every turn unless he knows they’re supporters. That isn’t representation. That’s cowardly.
LaRock’s antics are egregious enough that I would probably crawl over broken class to vote him out. Thankfully I can vote for a better alternative. I hope others will join me in voting for Paul Siker.
Ryan Donmoyer, Purcellville