Contributors

Editor

Lynn Mitchell

Lynn profile photoLynn and her husband live in Augusta County and have two grown children. She has been writing in the Virginia political blogosphere since 2006, working as a freelance blogger for the Washington Examiner, and contributing to Bearing Drift. Lynn educated her children at home for 16 years and was president of the local homeschool group. She has served on official boards in the area including trustee with the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia, and currently sits on the Augusta County Library Board. She was the 6th Congressional District representative for eight years on the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia, and has been a local coordinator and volunteer for many political campaigns. You can email her at lynnrmitchellva@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @swacgirl.

Contributors
Listed chronologically according to publish date.

Kurt Michael
wk0a_Photo_8-12-14Dr. Kurt Michael is an Assistant Dean for Doctoral Programs and Research in the School of Education at Liberty University. A long-time educator, he earned his PhD from Virginia Tech in Curriculum and Instruction. Kurt previously taught applied statistics and research method to gifted and talented students for 10 years at the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School. His experience also includes more than a decade of teaching in the public schools plus several years at the college level as well as serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reserves. He has served as a trustee on the Augusta County Library Board, chairman of the Grace Christian School Parent Advisory Board, and other boards. Kurt has been involved in Virginia politics for more than 25 years and is a former chairman of the Augusta County Republican Committee and Fairfax City Republican Committee. You can email him at kmichael1@juno.com.

 

 

Mike Thomas 1Mike Thomas

Mike earned his degree in political science from the University of Richmond. Since 1996, he has served as First Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. Mike has more than 30 years of experience helping to organize and manage grassroots operations for dozens of local, state, and federal elected officials and candidates. From 1994-98, he served as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Administration for Governor George Allen, and worked as State Director and Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator George Allen. Mike has been a senior vice president at McGuire Woods since 2007. He and his wife live in Richmond.

 

Daniel Cortez
Daniel Cortez 2Daniel Cortez, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and award winning writer-broadcaster, and is active in veterans and political affairs with an independent voter perspective. He can be reached at dpcortez1969@yahoo.com.

 

Wayne OzmoreWayne Ozmore

Wayne Ozmore is a combat veteran of operations Desert Shield/Storm/Provide Comfort. He has spent more than 34 years as a GOP activist, beginning at the age of 10.

 

David KaraffaDavid Karaffa

David Karaffa is a former Augusta County Supervisor for the Beverley Manor District who now lives with his three daughters in Palm Coast, Florida.

 

Andrea Oakes 2Andrea Oakes

Andrea has served on Staunton City Council since 2008, and is a past member of the Staunton City School Board. A graduate of Sweet Briar College, she works as a field claims professional in the insurance business. Andrea serves on many boards and committees including CAPSAW (Community Action Partnership for Staunton, Augusta County, and Waynesboro),  the Staunton Augusta Junior Women’s Club, the Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association, Staunton Kiwanis, and the Staunton NAACP Branch. In 2010, she was assigned by the Governor to the Virginia State Emergency Medical Service Advisory Board. Andrea and her husband Kenny have two daughters and a son, and are active in their church. Andrea can be contacted at oakesaw@ci.staunton.va.us.

Bill Wheaton 1Bill Wheaton

Bill Wheaton has been a resident of Concord, Virginia, since 2003, after living many years in Fairfax County. He began writing a regular column in Northern Virginia in 1997, and started writing a weekly column in the Lynchburg Ledger in 2004. Recent columns are available at billwheaton.blogspot.com. He can be reached at bwheaton@moreinformation.net.

 

Katy MBC photo 2011Katy Lord

Katy Mitchell Lord grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and currently resides with her husband in Blacksburg, Virginia, after living in Charlotte and Nashville. A 2012 graduate of Staunton’s Mary Baldwin College, she earned a BS in Sustainable Business with a minor in Marketing. Katy is the daughter of Lynn R. Mitchell and shares a love of photography.

 

Deborah MunozDeborah Bornstein Munoz

Deborah Bornstein Munoz is a Republican activist who resides in Prince William County, Virginia. She is Vice President of a commercial construction company.

 

Pat HaleyPatrick Haley

Pat Haley currently serves as a county commissioner in Clinton County, Ohio, where he lives with his wife Brenda. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in the fields of law enforcement, criminal justice, government and business, and was elected as Sheriff of Clinton County, Ohio, in 1980, serving two four-year terms. He was Chief Deputy Sheriff of Henrico County, Virginia, served in Governor Jim Gilmore’s administrtion, and worked on the personal staff of Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte. He served as President of Integrated Biometric Technology (IBT), Nashville, before returning to Ohio. He has attended the FBI Academy’s Professional Law Enforcement Administration Program, in association with the University of Virginia, and attended the FBI Academy’s Senior Management Program at Quantico, Wright State University, Hocking College and Mary Baldwin College in Staunton. Pat is an author and presenter on issues related to organizational change and law enforcement accreditation and has been published in the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Virginia Criminal Intelligence Association Magazine, The Validator. A published author, Pat wrote The Danes Murders: Lost Innocence in Lees Creek, a non-fiction account of the murder of a Clinton County family, and recently released his second book, The Storyteller: Growing up in Clinton County, Ohio.

 

Anna LeeAnna Lee

Anna Lee lives in Northern Virginia and is active with the Republican Party of Virginia and the Virginia Federation of Republican Women.

 

Jon BerkleyJon Berkley

Jon Berkley is a former chairman of the 5th Congressional District and was elected in 2015 to the Campbell County school board. He and his wife Tiffany live in Randolph, Virginia.

 

Jerry BaldwinJerry Baldwin

Jerry Baldwin is a Major with the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office and former candidate for Sheriff (Chesterfield County). He serves on the Executive Committee for Chesterfield GOP and has been involved in Republican campaigns since he was in high school. Jerry also owns a consulting firm, New Market Strategies, specializing in law enforcement policy, politics, and public relations.

 

Dennis NealDennis Neal

Dennis Neal is a former Opinions Editor for The News Leader. He now resides in Norfolk where he continues to work in communications.

 

Patricia Kennedy BirdsallPatricia Kennedy Birdsall

Patricia Kennedy Birdsall and her husband live in Texas with four children and four grandchildren.  Active in the Republican Party; was a Texans for Romney grassroots coordinator in 2012 , has been an officer on the Denton County Republican Executive Committee, and serves on many other GOP boards and committees.

 

Donald Williams 3Donald C. Williams

Donald C. Williams and his wife Nancy reside in Chesterfield, Virginia, where he runs a small consulting business. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to direct GSA’s National Capital Region just after the September 11th attacks. Having served in the administrations of Governors Gilmore and Allen, he is currently the chairman of the Chesterfield County Republican Committee.

 

Jerry LesterJerry Lester

Jerry Lester and his wife have been married 48 years and live in southwestern Virginia. He is a military veteran and businessman who has, among other things, owned a coal mine before buying the construction company that he still owns. A tireless volunteer, his involvement in politics in the Fightin’ 9th Congressional District includes his service as long-time chairman of the Buchanan County Republican Committee, a decade on RPV’s State Central Committee, and in 2010 he was honored as State Republican Chairman of the Year.

 

Mike ThompsonMike Thompson

Michael Thompson is currently the Chairman and President of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, a non-partisan Virginia focused foundation dealing with the issues of improving education, government reform, economic development and environmental stewardship. This foundation is the state’s premier independent public policy foundation and has gained broad based respect from political and business leaders throughout Virginia.

 

Lee TalleyLee Talley

Proud Republican Activist and self styled Last Progressive Republican in Virginia. More importantly Autism Warrior Dad to Harry Talley. Served in the McDonnell Administration as a member of the Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program and Past 2nd Senatorial District Legislative Chairman and 3rd Congressional District Treasurer.

 

Becky BoydstunBecky Boydstun

Becky Boydstun lives in Texas and authors the blog My Southern American Opinion with the byline, “When there are three gallons of crazy in a two gallon bucket, something’s got to change!” She adds, “I love news! I must know what’s going on at all times … maybe it’s the Southern in me. I always have an opinion about it, and sometimes it’s too strong to keep inside, so I blog about it.  The internet is a beautiful place so that is why I am certain Al Gore did not invent it.  I am a true red Republican, and I feel like we must do all we can to make sure Hillary Clinton doesn’t have her way and censor all of us good ole’ people right off of here! My hubby either loves me keeping him up on the latest or is great at pretending, and I have two of the best kids that I am indoctrinating just as I was by my daddy.  I am from North Florida, and now live in Texas. Being a diehard Gator fan, with the greatest memories of sitting in Ben Hill Griffin stadium with my dad and the same booster friends every year, I had to go to college there. So I studied entomology at the University of Florida because it was the only science program they would accept me in.  I lived in Chile for over a year doing missionary work where I had to learn Spanish fast because there wasn’t one English-speaking person to be found.  I’ve done various work with the Republican Party.  One of the most notable was flying to Pennsylvania to campaign for George W. Bush’s second election.  I live in the greatest country on earth!”

 

Tracy Pyles

51069ac2dcc4a.imageTracy Pyles is an Augusta County native and has been elected five times as Pastures District Supervisor. A graduate of James Madison University with a Political Science degree, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1967-71 and is retired as a corporate buyer for American Safety Razor. Tracy and wife Debbie live in Churchville and have three sons, Weston, Ryan, and Christian, who is married to Katie; they have two children, Caleb and Natalie.

 

Nancy SorrellsNancy Sorrells

Nancy Sorrells is a freelance historian, writer, and community leader from Greenville. She graduated from Riverheads High School, earned an undergraduate history degree from Bridgewater College, a secondary education teaching certificate from James Madison University, and a masters in history from JMU. After serving eight years on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, she is now a “recovering supervisor,” and is completing her term on the Augusta County Service Authority as well. She and her husband Randy have two dogs, two cats, and 31 nieces and nephews. She can be reached at lotswife@comcast.net

 

Joel Salatin 1Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin lives on the 550-acre Polyface Farm in western Augusta County with wife Teresa, a handful of interns, son Daniel and his wife and children just up the lane, and a gaggle of animals. The self-titled “lunatic farmer” has gained worldwide recognition for sustainable agriculture and organic enviro-friendly farming, authored numerous books and articles, been the subject of pure-food movies, and interviewed by newspaper and television including the New York Times, National Geographic, and ABC News. In addition to farming, Joel travels worldwide on speaking engagements to share the knowledge learned from his Shenandoah Valley farm.

 

Calvin LucyCalvin T. Lucy Jr.

Calvin Lucy, Jr. is a Richmond native who retired in 1988 after 40 years with Dominion Virginia Power. His father was one of the founders of WRVA radio, present WWBT-TV, and WCVE public television and the first President of the CBS Affiliates Advisory Board. Calvin remains active in the community, church, Dominon Retirees, and the John Marshall High School Class of 1943. He is married, is the father and step-father of seven, and lives in Chesterfield.

 

Benjamin DessartBenjamin Dessart

Benjamin Dessart is a life-long resident of Henrico County where he attends the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law. An active member of the Republican Party, he serves as Henrico GOP’s Brookland Magisterial Chair, Secretary of the University of Richmond College Republicans, and Western Vice-Chair for the Greater Richmond Young Republicans. Benjamin has served as Regional Political Director for Pete Snyder in 2013 and Deputy Political Director for U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. He can be reached at dessartbs@gmail.com.

 

Gregory HiltonGregg Hilton

Gregg Hilton spent two decades as the Executive Director of the American Security Council. He is the former Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Fund, Director of Public Affairs for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Republican National Committee’s liaison to the White House Political Affairs Office during the Reagan Administration. He has authored columns for Human Events, and the Washington Post called him one of the eight leading activists in the New Right. A prolific fundraiser, Gregg lives in Washington, D.C.

 

Kathy Walton LafonKathy Walton Lafon

Kathy Walton Lafon has been Director of  Music and Worship at Memorial Baptist Church in Staunton for the past 18 years. In her spare time, she delivers singing telegrams, acts in local musicals, and has taught piano to many. A music major at James Madison University, she was lead singer of the Rumours Band for almost 20 years and continues to be a favorite entertainer around the Shenandoah Valley. Kathy and her son live in Staunton.

 

Alex Davis 2aAlex Davis

Alex Davis was born and raised in Staunton, Va, and now resides in Radford. Active in his church and community, he currently serves as a vestry member at Grace Episcopal Church, is an assistant at Pulaski Dance Productions, and works insane hours managing the office of DeVilbiss Funeral Home in Radford. He has been involved in Virginia politics for more than 10 years and is a former chairman of the Staunton City Republican Committee and has worked closely with many elected officials including George Allen, Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, Jim Gilmore, and Chris Saxman. When not politicking or dancing, you can find him pondering all things theological at his blog, ubuntu.

Brian Kirwin 2Brian Kirwin

Brian Kirwin writes at Bearing Drift where he says the right wants to jeer him, the left wants to censor him; moderates usually want both. Brian is a political consultant and public relations strategist in Virginia Beach with a lightning-rod flair. He also serves on the VB Arts & Humanities Commission and frequently appears on Hampton Roads theatrical stages, if only to prove that all actors aren’t liberals. Kirwin’s columns stir up debate and hit the political scene with no punches pulled. Brian and his wife Anne own  Kirwin Development Strategies.

 

Matt Colt HallMatt Colt Hall

Matt Colt Hall is the proud son of two blue collar workers from Carroll County, Virginia. He has been in the Republican Party since the age of 16, and along the way has interned and worked with many great Republican candidates. Matt is a graduate of Ferrum College, where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Political Science degree. He currently lives in Roanoke with his amazing wife Lauren and is a member of both the Roanoke Valley Young Republicans and the Roanoke County Republican Committee.

 

Tito MunozTito A. Munoz

Tito Munoz is a Republican business owner who lives with his wife in Prince William County, Virginia, and is familiar for passionately stating, “I was born in Colombia, but I was MADE in the USA!” He served as the 11th District representative on the VA Board of Housing and Community Development from 2010-2014, appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell.

 

Susan Sili 6Susan Sili

Susan Sili and her husband Jeff, a member of the Caroline County Board of Supervisors, live in Bowling Green. She is an accomplished cook, gardener, author, decorator, world traveler, and former Bowling Green Town Councilwoman, like her mother and grandfather before her. Besides her work in politics, she serves on the boards of many commissions and committees in the community, and is very involved in her church.

 

Trixie 2Trixie Averill

Trixie Averill has been a long-time activist and volunteer for Republican candidates, serving for 16 years on RPV’s State Central Committee including as Western Vice Chairwoman, then as chairman of the 6th Congressional District, and Virginia State Director for Americans for Prosperity. Throughout the years she has worked numerous campaigns including George W. Bush, George Allen, Bob McDonnell, Jim Gilmore, and Bill Bolling. Currently the vice-chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Committee, Trixie is also serving her third term on the Virginia Tourism Corporation Board of Directors. A military mom, her son Marcus served four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before returning to the Roanoke Valley. Trixie and husband Dan live in Roanoke County. They are the parents of two grown children, and enjoy their three grandchildren and two happy Westies.

 

Colin Lord 1Colin Lord

Colin Lord was born and raised in Atlanta so you will never see him drinking a Pepsi but you will see him cheering on the Braves and Falcons, and Chick-Fil-A is his go-to fast food. He is a graduate of Florida State University where he pursued meteorology and computer science. When not sitting in front of a computer at his job as a front end developer, he enjoys running and has participated in 10K and half marathons races as well as the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh. Colin lives in Blacksburg with his wife Katy.

 

Gerrie Smith

Gerrie Smith has been a political activist in the Commonwealth of Virginia for decades, following in the path of her Revolutionary War ancestors. As a grass roots activist, she has served in leadership positions within the GOP as well as on various community advisory boards. McLean is her home, and the principles proclaimed in the GOP Creed exemplify her beliefs. Follow her on Twitter: @smithgerrie

 

Melissa Kenney

Melissa Kenney is married to Bearing Drift writer Shaun Kenney. They and their seven children live at Kenney Manor in the Center of the Universe aka Kents Store, Virginia. A graduate of the University of Virginia, the Massachusetts native and homeschool mom enjoys raising a variety of garden crops and farm animals, writes in her spare time, and is a full-time weather junkie.

 

Matthew C. Ames

Matthew C. Ames is chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee.

 

Nick Welham CRNick Welham

Nick Welham, a College Republican leader at Christopher Newport University, has worked on many campaigns throughout Virginia. In his spare time he knocks on doors and tables for the Republican Party.

 

Dolores Switzer 2Dolores Switzer

Dolores Switzer, whose father served in World War II and the Korean War, lives in Bedford County with her Vietnam veteran husband. Active in Republican politics, she is past president and current treasurer of the Central Republican Women, current treasurer of Virginia Republican Women, former member of RPV’s State Central Committee, former Committee member of the 5th Congressional District, and currently a member of the Republican Party of Bedford. Mom to two sons and a daughter-in-law, she is retired and now spends time enjoying family, politics, and reading.

 

Thomas Turner YRThomas Turner

Thomas Turner, a life-long resident of Suffolk, Virginia, has been active in Republican politics since 2008. An active member of the Republican Party, he serves as the Vice Chairman of the Suffolk GOP and the Founding Chairman of the Western Tidewater Young Republicans which covers the cities of Chesapeake, Suffolk, Franklin, and the counties of Isle of Wright, Southampton, Surry, and Sussex. Thomas has worked for Congressman Randy Forbes as the Eastern Field Director in 2012, and has worked with various conservative groups on college campuses across the East Coast. Outside of politics Thomas is a graduate student and is employed with Suffolk Public Schools and with a local attorney. He can be contacted at turnerthomas49@gmail.com.

 

45Barb Tillett

Barb Tillett and her husband enjoy exploring the back roads of America and have traveled extensively including Alaska, winter snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park, Mississippi, Florida, and just about every state in the U.S. but especially the Eastern Seaboard. One of her great joys in life is sitting on an ocean beach reading a book. Barb and her husband live in Augusta County, Virginia.

 

Beck StanleyBeck Stanley

Beck Stanley is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and works in his family’s insurance business in Bedford, Virginia. At 24, he serves as the youngest member of the Bedford Town Council.

 

Tony PhamTony Pham

Tony Pham, a General Counsel for the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office and the GOP nominee for the Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, lives with his family in Henrico, Virginia. Born in South Vietnam, he and his family immigrated to the United States at the fall of Saigon in 1975, and became an American citizen in 1985. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, he earned his J.D. from the University of Richmond’s School of Law. In 1999, Mr. Pham was initiated into the Upsilon Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, a historically African American fraternity founded on the campus of Howard University. He was named as one of Style Weekly Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40” and Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” for his work in criminal law and the Asian community.

 

Roger Jarrell 1Roger Jarrell
Roger Jarrell is a native of Lexington and attended school there, graduating from Virginia Military Institute as a member of the Class of 1991, and earned his J.D. from Washington and Lee University. He has been involved in politics on and off since the 1980s and currently serves as chairman of the Rockbridge Area Republican Committee. Roger often accompanies his son, Trey, as he races super late model cars with Mark Reedy Racing.

 

Samantha Sedivy

Samantha SedivySamantha Sedivy, who grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, is currently a third-year student at the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Samantha has spent over five years in Virginia politics and currently serves as the Chairman of the Greater Richmond Young Republicans, the Vice-Chairman for Membership of the Richmond Republican Committee, a Southern Regional Director for the Young Republican National Federation, and is a member of 2016 Class of the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program.

 

Rebecca Welch

Rebecca WelshRebecca Welch is a millennial voter who lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where she works as an IT Analyst for a manufacturing corporation. She is actively involved with local politics and is treasurer of the Memphis Women’s Political Counsel.

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