The Ashland Town Council has attracted three candidates to its two open seats.
The candidates are Les Cook, a senior seminar and mentorship coordinator at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School; John Hodges, a current Town Council member; and Dan McGraw, a Patrick Henry High School teacher.
The deadline to collect the 125 signatures needed to get on the Ashland ballot was Tuesday. The election will be held May 1 at Ashland Town Hall.
McGraw said he wanted to run to make the race competitive. He thinks his listening skills and ability to talk to people will serve him well. McGraw said living in the northwest section of Ashland alongside a mix of people means he will bring a different perspective to the council.
“It’s a different feel,” McGraw said. “I’m from the working class. I’m a teacher. I know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.”
Hodges’ term is expiring in June after he was appointed last year to replace Vice Mayor James Murray, who left the council to attend law school in North Carolina.
Hodges said he worked for Hanover for about 30 years as a planning director and as a deputy county administrator. He said he would like to continue being involved with the town.
“I think the biggest distinction is my experience in local government,” said Hodges, a resident of Ashland’s southwest quadrant. “I’m serving on council also — that has helped me out in making me more experienced.”
Hodges said he has raised $400 to pay for yard signs and brochures. He’s mulling advertising in local newspapers as the election gets closer.
Cook said in January that he felt motivated to do something for his community. He hopes to do what’s right for the town and businesses in the most economically responsible way possible and to get more residents engaged.
Cook got more engaged with town affairs at meetings on DC2RVA last year. Discussions with Mayor James Foley helped persuade Cook that now was a good time to run.
All three candidates are running as independents, as is tradition for Ashland elections.
“If you are going to vote for someone, you need to actually find out what they think rather than just picking someone because they have a partisan label in front of their name,” Town Manager Joshua Farrar said.