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Primaries stir local governing shake-ups in Hanover and Henrico

Canova Peterson in profile
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Hanover Board of Supervisors Chairperson Canova Peterson listens during a drone demonstration on Wednesday, April 26 in Hanover County, Virginia.

Hanover County voters ousted multiple incumbents during this week’s primaries.

Results from local primaries in Hanover and Henrico counties were certified Friday evening. New candidates emerged in parts of Henrico, while two incumbents in Hanover were ousted by their primary competitors for the board of supervisors.

Hanover had three contested Republican primaries this week. Mechanicsville District Supervisor Canova Peterson was defeated by opponent Ryan Hudson. Peterson was first elected to the Hanover Board of Supervisors in 2011 and is the board’s current chairperson.

Hudson — a licensed realtor, registered nurse and member of Hanover’s Community Services Board — garnered 591 votes (55.9%) to Peterson’s 467 (44.1%), ending Peterson’s three-term run.

“The people have spoken, and the nominee is going to be Mr. Hudson,” Peterson told VPM News. “I’m chairman of the board right now, and I have plenty of work to do. I’ll be working till the last day as hard as I can.”

Peterson said he’s proud to have earned the support of the residents of Mechanicsville and Hanover through his service on the board of supervisors and hopes to share any knowledge he can share with the new nominee.

Incumbent Beaverdam District Supervisor Robert Monolo was also ousted by primary challenger Jeff Stoneman by a slim margin. Stoneman received 1,081 votes (46.7%) while Monolo received 1,029 (44.5%).

Hanover General Registrar and Director of Elections Teresa Smithson told VPM News before canvassing Friday that Monolo likely won’t make up for the small gap via provisional or absentee ballots.

“We’re looking to make sure we’ve got things right,” Smithson said. “The margin in that race is so close, but from what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s going to be enough provisional or absentee ballots to move the needle.”

Monolo was elected to the board during a special election last November — in which he ran unopposed — to fill out the unexpired term of the late Aubrey M. Stanley Jr. The seat was also held by Allen Davidson, who served on an interim basis until residents elected Monolo.

Stoneman, a local business owner who operates PawsCienda Pet Resort, overwhelmed his opponents in campaign spending with $21,373 spent, as opposed to Monolo who spent $7,469 and candidate Douglas A. Schuhle who raised $4,632, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Republican voters also selected a candidate for November’s Ashland District supervisor race. Yael Levin received 564 votes (82.8%) votes compared to her opponent Travis Crown, who received 117 (17.2%).

Levin is part of a coalition of conservative parents running for public office. She’s known most for her views on education and is endorsed by parents-rights organizations like No Left Turn in Education, with which she was once affiliated. Levin will challenge incumbent Faye Prichard for the Ashland seat.

Henrico held both Republican and Democratic primaries this week, including to replace longtime public servant Patricia O’Bannon of the Tuckahoe District as she prepares to retire after her seventh term.

Greg Baka received the Republican nod while Jody Rogish received the Democratic nomination. Baka is a tenured member of Henrico’s planning commission, where he currently serves as planning commissioner.

Baka was appointed to the board in 2016 by O'Bannon and received her endorsement during his campaign.

Baka also serves on the board of Parham Doctors Hospital and is a citizen representative on PlanRVA. Baka received 2,823 votes (72.4%) while his opponent, Craig Suro, received 1,075 (27.6%).

Rogish also has a background in public service, with a masters in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. He serves as an IT consultant to the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Rogish received 2,276 votes (53.5%) while his opponent, Anne-Marie Leake received 1,976 (46.5%). Henrico held another Democratic primary for the Three Chopt District, where Penny Page received 1,960 votes (48.8%) and Misty Whitehead received 2,059 (51.2%).

Although Page didn’t receive the Democratic nomination, she still made waves as the first openly transgender candidate to run for office in Henrico County history.

“There are a lot of transgender people in the country who feel they're not getting what they should,” Page said “I met most of the people who voted for me in person myself, and it was powerful to hear from people about that.”

During her campaign, Page said she’s proud to have built a personal connection to issues facing LGBTQ+ people and hopes to engage with her supporters on a variety of subjects during her next campaign.

“We’re already planning the next campaign, and it's going to be a very strong one. We have even more support than we had before, and I'm very much looking forward to being engaged,” Page said.

Page’s opponent, Whitehead, has a background as an attorney. She said she ran her campaign to offer a new perspective to the Henrico board, which is predominantly men.

“There are certain things that only through life experiences, can you really gain perspective on,” Whitehead said. “I think it's absolutely important we have that representation, so we can talk about issues people support but we don’t always prioritize.”

Whitehead told VPM News she’s excited to continue her campaign, focusing on issues concerning affordable housing, education and abortion access. She’ll go on to face the district’s multi-term incumbent, Tommy Branin, in November.

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.
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