Two Seek Vacant Mount Jackson Mayor’s Seat

Posted: April 4, 2014

HARRISONBURG — Two Mount Jackson men are vying for mayor in the first election since the unexpected death of Mayor Joe Williams, who had served as the town’s leader for 15 years.

The contenders are Al Asbury, 67, who moved to the town in 1995, and Bucky Miller, 37, a Mount Jackson native.

Interim Mayor Michael Koontz is not running for election because things are busy at First Bank, where he works, and at home, where he has a large family, he said. Koontz served as a councilman between 1996 and 2008 and Town Council appointed him to take the place of Williams,  who died July 16 at the age of 81.

Koontz also said Miller had told him he planned to run. He said he wasn’t officially endorsing Miller, but thinks he has the qualities to be an effective leader.

“I think he’ll be a good mayor,” he said.

Miller, a sales consultant at Woodstock Garage, previously served as a town council member for eight years. He did not run for re-election two years ago because he and his wife had just had a child and he wanted to spend more time with his family, he said.

“I wanted to take a couple years off and see if I missed it, and I do,” Miller said. “It’s a well-oiled machine, as far as the town goes, and it would just be nice to get back in there.”

Miller serves as chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals. He said he wants to establish good relationships with businesses in the town and make it an attractive place for new businesses to go.

He also wants to see to it that the iconic image of the barrel of apples on the Mount Jackson water tower, which makes the town visible from a distance, is repaired in a timely manner. It has suffered significant sun damage.

Miller said he thinks Mount Jackson residents know him well and know that he’s easy to talk to if they have questions. He also said the late mayor encouraged him to seek the office.

“I was very close with Mayor Williams,” Miller said. “Before his passing, he was always telling me he wanted me to run, and I always wanted to run. I grew up in Mount Jackson, that’s my hometown. It’s one of those things I feel like it’s the right time and the right thing to do for Mount Jackson.”

Asbury, a retired union steelworker, has run for town office unsuccessfully several times in the past. He’s running, he said, because he doesn’t approve of the job the mayor and council are doing.

“I would just like to see the overall picture of Mount Jackson improve for the residents,” Asbury said. “The people are who the council goes to for money, when they enact ordinances, of course that affects the people. I’d like to see it get a little better for the people.”

If elected, he would like to see a one-term limit for elected positions and the creation of an adult-supervised teen center to keep adolescents off the streets and out of trouble. He’d also like to revise the town tax code to place a 1 cent tax on every item sold in the town, with the hope that it would generate enough revenue to lessen the burden of property taxes.

Like Miller, Asbury said he thinks the townspeople know him, and his opinions, well.

“The people know me, although they’ve never elected me,” Asbury said. “But they still know who I am, they know what I stand for, they know probably as much about me as I know about myself.”

The election will be held on May 6. Voters must register or make changes to their registration by 5 p.m. on April 14.

The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is April 29, by sending a completed application to the General Registrar, 600 N. Main St, Suite 103, Woodstock, VA 22664. For more information, call 459-6195.

Contact Kassondra Cloos at 574-6290 or kcloos@dnronline.com



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