Degner Announces Run for Lohr’s Seat

Brent Finnegan -- March 25th, 2010

Mayor Kai Degner “unofficially” announced he is running for the Democratic Party nomination in the 26th district of the House of Delegates. According to his website, an event officially announcing the campaign will be held next week.

After much consideration and many humbling pledges of support, I have elected to pursue the unexpected opening for the 26th District’s seat in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s House of Delegates. (read the statement)

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92 Responses to “Degner Announces Run for Lohr’s Seat”

  1. In 2008 I wrote,

    The question on a lot of minds yesterday was; How will such a large young voter turnout affect local elections? Surprisingly, I don’t think it swayed it that much (full disclosure — I work at JMU). While the turnout at Stone Spring ratcheted the overall totals up, the Dems may have still swept council without it.

    But it’s undeniable (to anyone that was at Stone Spring that day) that the student vote had an impact in Kai’s favor.

    I suspect turnout district-wide will be low, regardless of whether the vote is held this spring or in November.

  2. Lowell Fulk says:

    I’m sure it impacted that precinct, but his numbers were good at all precincts weren’t they? I don’t have the numbers up right now.

  3. Yes. The post I linked to in my previous comment has the numbers with and without Stone Spring.

  4. Lowell Fulk says:

    Good and telling commentary on your linked post as well Brent.

  5. Dany Fleming says:

    Part of the “fickleness”of Democrat voters is that the Dem. Party looks to represent disenfranchised and dispossessed voters….or at least the DP tries to get their votes. Giving those voters a reason to show up at the polls is not easy. Apart from the historical voting barriers they’ve had to overcome, they get little of the fruits of political power; mainly because they’ve experienced relatively little political power. Harrisonburg is certainly no exception to this.

    We can certainly debate whether the Dem Party has carried the causes of those voters well. However, what matters is that disenfranchised voters need to have a pretty strong belief in a candidate to go to the polls. If they don’t, they have little incentive to vote. I’d say that also holds true for younger/student voters as well. True or not, “belief” and “hope” is what brought those voters to the polls in ’08.

  6. republitarian says:

    I think that council should pass an ordinance that all mayors gets free drinks for their trouble. They could make it retroactive, but former mayor Eagle’s bill would bankrupt the city for the next decade….at least.

  7. Lowell Fulk says:

    Disenfranchisement is in the eye of the beholder to some degree Dany. For anyone to expect immediate results was a bit optimistic given the state of things in January of last year. I fully understand the microwave patience level of our country’s population, but reality can’t be made to fit, it just simply is what it is.
    It’s time for a new and fresh and young group to carry things forward, and the constituents need to get behind them, and have just a bit of patience while they sort things out…

  8. Dany Fleming says:

    Lowell, for families stuck in horrible inner city schools for multiple generations or living in areas that are never-ending employment wastelands, what patience are they supposed to put their trust into? There’s a never-ending call for just a little more patience – just give me your vote and hold out a bit longer.

    Many disenfranchised folks just watched an immediate trillion dollar bailout of Wall St. crooks while they’re still begging to get running water in their HS science labs or textbooks that aren’t a decade old. What about a generations old family farm getting foreclosed while a hedge fund manager restocks the multi-billion portfolio he just gambled away months ago. These folks don’t have microwave patience and they aren’t naive. I’d say these folks certainly know reality can be made to fit, when the right politics are at play.

    I do understand your point. However, a lot of folks have long experienced giving “a bit of patience while they sort things out”…and they have little trust in it.

  9. BANDIT says:

    9:13 pm,
    So much for “I’m hanging it up”… as far as blogging goes. I would think you would like to be known as a “man of his word”.

  10. Lowell Fulk says:

    Of course you’re right Dany, there is much to dismay and discourage folks, and politicians run the spectrum from honest and wanting to do good as quickly as possible to the other extreme. I hope things get worked out for the best, but I would submit that not showing up at the polls is almost a guarantee that your interests won’t be addressed.

  11. republitarian says:

    I said I was hanging it up to focus on other matters and that was accomplished. I knew it was going to last seven days and now I’m back.

  12. BANDIT says:

    Good luck Kai!
    8:46 am,
    I’m hanging it up implies you are quitting— I’ll be back in seven days would have been accurate.

  13. John Mildred says:

    Vote for REAL CHANGE this time, elect a business man not an Art director. Kia wants to further his political career, not our district, town, city or state. I would prefer someone who actually has experience and allegiance to us, not to a stepping stone or to further his political career. Given the chance I am sure Kia would turn coat on Virginia and go to another state for the right opportunity. I support a candidate who can instead of being the “cool” mayor who drinks, concentrates on business and making things move. Please do not subject our district to the in-action we have seen during the current administration. Vote for experience, not hype this time, the future of our area rests in your hands. The status quo just is not working anymore. Is Kia even a Virginia native? Still not sure how Art director qualifies this guy for anything. Elect a qualified person both in bureaucracy and in business, not just a guy with an arm band idea. Make the right educated decision. Elect someone who can make things happen at the state level, someone with REAL experience and connections, not a 28 year old mayor that was elected by JMU student that can not sway a board if he tried.

  14. Gene Hart says:

    “Kai,” not “Kia.” Glad to be of service.


  15. seth says:

    judging from your comment, i’d say that you’ve probably never spoken to or even met kai. i’d encourage you to get in touch with him and spend some time getting to know him before you allow your mind to become so completely set in favor of some as yet to be determined individual who you perceive will have better aptitude as a bureaucrat.

    and if it makes you feel any better, his undergrad degree was in integrated science and technology, so he’s much more than just some art queer.


  16. Brian M says:


    You always make me laugh… “some art queer”


    p.s. More seriously though, Kai is certainly passionate about our community. Have a simple 10 minute conversation with him and you can’t help but walk away knowing that. I agree that Mr. Mildred can’t possibly have ever talked with him. Ignorance of reality is no excuse to be a hate-monger.

  17. Lowell Fulk says:

    Good points Geen and ceth…
    Mayor Degner has done more to build a stronger sense of community than anyone I know. He is quite capable of getting people of different views to work toward win/win solutions, which is a quality sorely lacking in state government these days. He’s quite capable of thinking for himself, and is willing to take counsel to gain better understanding of what ever issue he faces. I can assure you that should Mayor Degner be elected he will represent the area with thoughtful consideration and reasoned judgement.
    And as far as age? Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.


  18. Lowell Fulk says:

    Didn’t mean to exclude you Brain, I was writing while you were submitting.

  19. Renee says:

    I always chuckle when people think Kai got elected because he was a recent JMU grad. He didn’t campaign on that (at least I never heard him mention it) and most JMU students at the time had no idea he had just graduated from the school. Unless you’re saying the JMU population leans left and they voted all local Dems into office (which is also debatable), saying his election had anything to do with his youth or JMU affiliation is pretty silly. If anything, that worked against him.

    I, for one, think Kai’s “inexperience” in politics could be a benefit for someone representing our local area to the state, because “experience” in politics these days isn’t necessarily good. If nothing else, if you know Kai you at least know he’s capable of bringing energy and fresh ideas to the table, which is more than you can say of a lot of people holding political offices these days.

  20. Lowell Fulk says:

    His experience does include however, dealing with budget shortfalls due to state funding cuts, while balancing unfunded or underfunded mandates from the state. He therefore would have a good understanding of the effect on local government of poor representation in the General Assembly and would be well positioned and qualified to do a better job than has been done in the past.

  21. John Mildred says:

    I have met “KAI” and lip service does not impress me a bit. He may be young and can bring energy but if you can not make the machine move what does it matter how much :hype you have? No one mentioned if he is native Virginian and again I can not vote for someone whom I feel is only in this to further a political career and has no ties to our area.

  22. Dan says:

    Blaming the local victories of Kai and other Democrats on JMU is just an excuse. It’s easier to be upset by the perception that liberals from somewhere else are influencing local elections than to accept that Harrisonburg is now a diverse city and isn’t reliably conservative.

    When is the first televised debate?!

  23. Renee says:

    “has no ties to our area”?

    I personally don’t know when Kai moved to Virginia, but I know if you include his time at JMU, he has lived here for the majority of his adult life. :)

    I’m bored at the moment so I’ll go see if I can easily find some info. Oh, here it is. I Topeka’d his name (OK OK I’ll never say that again) and this was one of the first results:

    I believe Kai’s pre-college “hometown” is Baltimore. That article says he’s lived here since 1999. I think he’s currently 29, so he’s lived in Harrisonburg for almost 40% of his lifetime! :)

    John, what would you consider as the qualifier for “having ties to our area”? Does being mayor of the city, even for a short time, count? I think that gives some “local cred”. Also, couldn’t one argue that anyone running for office is trying to “further their political career”?

    Anyway, I think the proper thing to argue is how well a person would represent our area. The length of time they’ve lived here is of course relevant, but past a certain duration, it comes down to who will best represent the local people’s opinions.

    May the best man win! (P.S. No word of any female candidates for this job?)

  24. Lowell Fulk says:

    I don’t think we’ve met, but you certainly represent yourself well with very thoroughly considered opinions, you have an impressive mind and unless I’m mistaken you are female, have you ever considered seeking public office?

  25. Lowell Fulk says:

    And in answer to your question, Harrisonburg City Councilwoman Carolyn Frank is considering seeking the Republican nomination for the special election. She ran for this same seat as an independent in 2007.

  26. Renee says:

    Haha thanks Lowell. The only public office I’ve run for was in my high school student government :) The type and amount of work required for actual public office isn’t really my thing, but I’ll sit here at my computer and comment on others doing it! haha Yes, I’m female and no we haven’t met.

    Thanks for the answer on Carolyn Frank. Interesting that she’d consider switching from running as an Independent to Republican at this time.

  27. bazrik says:

    To John –

    Look at the track record before you disrespectfully spout off, sir.

    Kai (Mayor Degner, more appropriately) has great “ties” to this area, in that he’s lived here a long time …and MORE IMPORTANTLY has had great effect in office so far. How does just living in the same place your whole life (as opposed to years, like Mayor Degner) make someone more qualified to lead? I’ve seen old-time members of the G.O.B. network entrench themselves in various offices for years, making little to no impact, riding on the tired-out position of “Weeelll, I’ve lived here all my life…”.

  28. David Miller says:

    “Make the right educated decision.” I couldn’t agree more, practice what you preach! Mayor Degner has earned more respect than online accusations of being an Outsider. Dang ol foreigners intruding in our local politics. Darn students exercising their constitutional rights of representation. What’s next? Women voting? (sorry, hope the sarcasm translates digitally). Make a valid argument; don’t pull the outsider/student card. It’s gotten very very old. I’ve lived here my entire life and I also went to Blue Ridge as Mr Wilt did, that no more qualifies me to run for office than Mayor Degner or Wilt. Also I’d encourage you to prove that students made the election for Mayor Degner, I haven’t seen that evidence yet.

    I’m personally excited that Kai is choosing to seek the Democratic nomination because if he wins we will have a representative that understands the impact of state decisions on localities. I’m also looking forward to representation that doesn’t take ridiculous and irrelevant ideological stands like Lohr previously has.

  29. David Miller says:

    btw, please do tell how you learned that “Kia wants to further his political career, not our district, town, city or state.”

    I didn’t get that memo. What’s your source for that?

  30. Dave Briggman says:

    @David Miller…it’s implied and the opinion of several Democrats I’ve spoken with locally. But I have news for you…the Kumbaya, can’t we all just get along message Kai preaches is not going to penetrate into the political climate here…especially when Kai has supported the Messiah, given what the Messiah has imposed upon the Country.

  31. David Miller says:

    implied, yes by you. Who did you speak with

  32. Do you mean: “To Whom Did You Speak”?

    It’s not important…but I’m sure you’re recognize the name.

  33. JGFitzgerald says:

    Not important?

  34. Emmy says:

    Did you mean you’ll or you’d?

  35. Lowell Fulk says:

    I’ve spoken to many folks who have observed that unless one is born here, they ain’t from around here. This is probably true.

    Mayor Degner has held office for about the same amount of time in a four year term as did Mr. Lohr, before seeking higher office…

    There is a difference however, between the two. Mr. Degner has been quite active and productive during his time on council, and Mr. Lohr wasn’t all that engaged during his time on the school board. Not a criticism, but still a fact. This is an honest observation of both young men, and I’ve been in a position to make such an observation.

    Mr. Degner has shown at least as much interest in the well being of this area as the current holder of the office which is now becoming vacated and open. Mr. Lohr is taking the next available step up the ladder, and who could think to blame him. This is a tremendous opportunity for Mr. Lohr.

    This is also a tremendous opportunity for Mr. Degner.

    And a great opportunity for the area, to receive honest representation by someone who has exhibited a willingness, and eagerness to listen and weigh the ideas and opinions of local folk.

    This has been shown by Mr. Degner.

  36. Of course, Emmy, I meant “you’d”…Kind of like mixing up TANF and welfare, right? Or infidelity and adultery.

  37. David Miller says:

    Dave I’m rarely inclined to agree with you but in this case I do, it is unimportant who your imaginary sources are.

  38. David Miller says:

    Lowell, well said!

  39. BANDIT says:

    Dave, OF COURSE, we knew what you meant … just as we knew what DM meant. It is humorous to see you make an error while giving an unsolicited grammar lesson.

  40. Hey Miller, I’ll give you a clue. One of the Dems has posted in this thread.

  41. Emmy says:

    No Dave, not like that at all really. But, if you’re going to stoop to pointing out a grammar mistake, better check your own post.

  42. MB Green says:

    Well, I’m not a student and I plan on voting for Kai. I appreciate a lot of things he’s accomplished as mayor.

    Why is everyone deliberately spelling their own names wrong? Is it because someone called Kai “Kia?”

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