Chenault Running for Council as Independent

Brent Finnegan -- June 8th, 2010

Former Republican Harrisonburg City Council member Charlie Chenault announced Tuesday that he will run as an independent candidate for Council this November.

Charlie Chenault“I’m running as an independent because it best suits my philosophy of local government, which is essentially, ‘local government is where the rubber meets the road,'” Chenault told a small gathering of friends and supporters at Liberty Park Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve never made decisions in my previous four-and-a-half years on City Council based on [party] politics . . . There’s really only one entity I want to have to serve and have to answer to, and that’s the citizens of Harrisonburg.”

He referred to his voting record during his previous term in office as an indication of his priorities. He mentioned public safety, education, and downtown rejuvenation as important factors that need funding and attention.

“I am a proponent of downtown revitalization,” he said, but added that he also supported installing sidewalks near the mall. “There is no reason sometime in our future why the area around the mall can’t be pedestrian and bicycle-friendly.”

Chenault, a self-described “active cyclist,” said walking and cycling infrastructure should be funded “on an equal plane” with automobile transportation. “These [bike] trails and sidewalks can be built in incrementally smaller costs for the amount of people using them than a roadway can . . . Children who want to walk and ride their bikes to school deserve the ability to do that, and their parents deserve to know they can do it safely.”

He vowed to seek no other office during his term if elected, and pledged to “give every ounce of my energy to the job of serving the City of Harrisonburg.”

Chenault served on Council for one term (2004 to 2008). He ran for re-election in 2008 on the Republican ticket, and placed fourth in an eight-way race for three open seats — 0.4 percent (or 127 votes) behind councilmember Dave Wiens. Chenault currently serves on the Harrisonburg Planning Commission.

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20 Responses to “Chenault Running for Council as Independent”

  1. BANDIT says:

    You can keep peddling Charlie but, I don’t believe you will get anywhere. It’s time to move on to other things. The voters want something better than they already have had from the past… Can you list any accomplishments attributed to you when on council last time?

  2. Jamie Smith says:

    We got a big dose of “new” last time and so far we have little to show for it. I thought Charlie brought a steady, thoughtful presence to the council when he was a member and believe he will again.

    • David Miller says:

      I like Charlie as a person too. “little to show for it” is pretty ignorant, we’ve got much to show for it and a lack of tax increases isn’t the least of it.

  3. Brandon says:

    Cheers Charlie. You have my vote. The “peddling” remark you made “bandit” was distasteful. YOU know exactly what that was in reference to.

  4. republitarian says:

    Charlie and Ted will win those two seats. Carolyn will be third. Greg will be fourth followed by Sal, then Joe.

    • David Miller says:

      Myron, your insights are always so well explained. I’m glad that we have your educated “predictions” to go by, otherwise we might have to just wait until election day.

  5. republitarian says:

    One day soon the mall will probably be sold to JMU. Investing money there is foolish.

    I’m not sure if Charlie is being forthcoming as to why he’s not running as a republican. Maybe it’s because they told him to take a hike.

    • BANDIT says:

      Don’t forget that Charlie voted to sell (give-away) the old High School to JMU…

  6. kuato says:

    Charlie got my vote last time around because of his support for the development of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. He’s going to get it again, although I don’t support an investment in sidewalks out by the mall. My opinion on that matter is that our first priority should be downtown revitalization.


    My first priority continues to be downtown revitalization. Behind the mall, I have seen too many people walking in the street and in wheelchairs. Many of my cycling friends complain that they cannot get to their doctor’s offices easily. There is ample room for multi-use paths on the major thoroughfares (University and Neff) behind the mall which would help these situations. I probably could have said it better.
    Thanks – Charlie

    • kuato says:

      I get it. But for me, the mall area wouldn’t even come in second. I would rather see more development of bicycle and pedestrian access to the city schools. The needs of adult friends who can’t bike to their doctor’s office should not be valued above an opportunity to generate interest in a healthy lifestyle in our children. In particular, I like the idea of a bike trail that connects to Harrisonburg High School through the area around the golf course.

  8. republitarian says:

    Charlie, that response had a really defensive tone to it. You seem to be picking only “free” venues to campaign from. Are you going to really campaign by sending ugly mailers and putting 20 gazillion signs in the right of ways and spending tens of thousands in the process?

    Why didn’t you run for the republican nomination, Charlie? Are you just playing spoiler in this race?



  9. Jamie Smith says:

    D. Miller, “no tax increases?” Check your water/sewer bill and your r/e assessment.
    Also, it is mean spirited to call someones comment “pretty ignorant.”
    Follow the rules, D. Miller!!

    • David Miller says:

      I think that this council has been great and that we have a lot to show for the new faces! I’m sorry that I said it in a harsh manner but your statement “We got a big dose of “new” last time and so far we have little to show for it.” was ignorant because I disagreed with it entirely. Sorry that it came off as an attack.

      The water/sewer rates and the re-assessments are not anything to do with Kai or the rest of council. The sewer rates went up to cover the new City/County processing plant. The re-assessments are done by City staff and while I disagree with staff’s decision to continue to raise assessments in a down housing market, I don’t blame council for staff’s actions.

      • lowell fulk says:

        The key question on the reassessment disagreement:
        “Would you sell your property at the assessed value?”
        If your answer is, “Heck no! It’s worth a lot more to me than that!” Then your assessment isn’t too high…

        And David, you are not mean spirited in the least, what you are is honest. Sometimes, the truth hurts…

        • David Miller says:

          I don’t like the way we do property taxes personally but I haven’t been able to brainstorm a better method yet. This coming from a guy who doesn’t plan on ever selling and who’s house has increased in assessed value by 92% in the six years I’ve had it. My mortgage has increased by $160 a month to cover the taxes. Not really a great system but very common across the US.

          • Dany Fleming says:

            Our property taxes are relatively low. A similar comparable Harrisonburg house in Staunton would be paying significantly higher taxes….and I’ll put our public services and schools against Staunton’s any day.

            I believe we’ve raised the assessed value of our housing stock as opposed to increasing the tax rate to meet our service needs. That seems like a better strategy for the housing market. It also keeps the area with an appealing low tax rate low, which conservatives should like.

            I’m actually assessed higher than what I could probably sell for now. My assessment’s gone up over 40% in 2 years. I don’t like that, even though I’m still not complaining about the relatively low rates here.

            One solution to minimize home owner impact is to cap the % increase over any 1 or 2 year period. For example, no increase greater than 25% in 1 year or 50% in 2 years would be allowed. That might give homeowners a chance to adjust or make plans. H’burg’s financially stable enough to handle the phased in approach.

            David – I’d say 92% over 6 years seems an undue burden. Another solution is to limit the number of successive increases for folks who remain in their homes. If you decide to sell, then an assessed tax could be placed at the sale based on the selling price.

  10. Jamie Smith says:

    Are you guys picking out furniture?

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