The two candidates in the upcoming special election for the Brookland District in Henrico County don’t see much partisanship on the Board of Supervisors, but on Wednesday they both presented themselves as willing to collaborate to get things done.
At their first forum together since winning their respective party’s nominations in August, Democrat Danny Plaugher and Republican Dan Schmitt disagreed on very little and agreed that public education should be the county’s top priority.
The candidates highlighted their personal and professional backgrounds throughout the ChamberRVA forum at Libbie Mill Library: Plaugher is the executive director of Virginians for High Speed Rail and a public transit advocate who previously ran for the Brookland seat in 2015 and 2017, and Schmitt is the founder and CEO of RMC Events and president of the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association.
Schmitt has promoted himself as a energetic businessman. Plaugher has fashioned himself as an advocate for low- and middle-income residents.
“There aren’t a lot of partisan issues, but there are different values. I believe we have to address poverty in Henrico County,” said Plaugher, pointing to housing affordability and public transportation as critical factors.
“Things may not break down along party lines ... but we have to work together and have those conversations,” he added.
When asked the same question — whether he sees partisan divides on county issues, and how he would propose to bridge the gap — Schmitt alluded to former Supervisor Courtney Lynch, who resigned her Brookland seat at the end of June, just months after taking office.
In a similar special election last November, Lynch became the first Democrat elected to the seat in decades. The seat became open after the death of Richard “Dick” Glover, the district’s longtime supervisor, earlier in the year.
County officials and board members felt that Lynch soured budget negotiations when she began criticizing them for not supporting her proposal to add $4.3 million to increase teacher pay.
“That’s what made last year so unique,” Schmitt said. “We need to rise above partisan rhetoric when it comes to local politics. And we need to do that every single day.”
There are currently no other forums or debates scheduled between Plaugher and Schmitt.
Plaugher and his wife are expecting their first child within the next two weeks. He and Schmitt said it’s unlikely that they will agree to meet together before the election on Nov. 6.