Failmezger ‘saddened’ by ‘tone’ and ‘untruths’ of Tederick attack
By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder – it DID!!!
“IT” is the three-way race for the North River District seat on the Warren County Board of Supervisors in which a recent and still philosophical Republican is running as a Democrat; a philosophical Democrat is running as an independent; a Republican who wasn’t planning on running for anything this fall is running – of all things – as a Republican; and the incumbent Democrat, Glenn White, local Republicans wanted to unseat isn’t running at all.
The assumed weirdness PEAK for us was long-time local Republican strategist Joe Swiger’s Facebook political seduction and slap-down of former Republican and neo-Democrat Chris Holloway (see related story first posted on the Warren County Report website on Nov. 2nd).
The follow-up pre-election weirdness was a rambling, and according to its target, factually inaccurate and intentionally misleading four-page written attack on the character and opinions of independent North River candidate Victor “Tory” Failmezger made by local Republican activist Matt Tederick.
In light of earlier statements, including an unfulfilled publicly-stated promise to contribute $50 to his campaign so that he, Tederick, could assure a chance to campaign against him, Failmezger told us he had been expecting such an attack from Tederick.
Among the allegations Tederick makes are that Failmezger is not from here but would dictate what is best of the community, has been termed an elitist in a 2005 Washington Post article, doesn’t want others to prosper, and is arrogant and wrathful for expressing past opposition to development and expansion of the Crooked Run Shopping Center.
Of Tederick’s attack, Failmezger released this statement:
“I have read Mr. Tederick’s letter of November 4th and am truly saddened by the tone, twisted words, untruths and quotes taken out of context with which he attacks me. He used these same negative tactics a year ago when he attacked Bret Hrbek in an attempt to unseat him as vice-mayor of Front Royal. He must feel very threatened by my candidacy to craft such a politically motivated letter. I am sure the voters in the North River District will see through Mr. Tederick’s attempt to affect the election and vote for who they see as the best candidate.”
Asked about his reaction to Tederick’s attack on another candidate, Republican North River candidate Dan Murray told us, “I have stated for the record that I would run a clean gentlemen’s campaign. I have kept my word! I had no knowledge of this letter till it was forwarded to me. He [Tederick] does not endorse anyone as his candidate of choice. This is adding drama at the close of the campaign.”
Fresh off his e-mail ambush by another local Republican activist, Joe Swiger, the other North River District candidate, Chris Holloway, declined to get anywhere near this one.
One clear-cut example of what he perceives as Tederick’s distortion of the truth is a quote taken from a 2005 Washington Post article. In his anti-endorsement letter/e-mail Tederick accuses Failmezger of moving to Warren County “recently” with an “elitist” agenda and uses a quote from a 2005 Washington Post article by M.J. McAteer titled “Jeffersonian Ideals” to make his point.
“Having traveled the world, he and his family decided to move to Warren County to show us what we have been doing wrong and as Travis McDonald said in a Washington Post article: ‘Failmezgers are members of an elite group.’ (Tederick’s emphasis)”
“I don’t know if buying property and moving here in 1994-95 is exactly recent,” Failmezger said. “And the Post quote was taken totally out of context from an article about architecture and our efforts to design our home in the style of Thomas Jefferson’s home at Poplar Forest.”
In fact, Failmezger, who with his wife Patricia are former owners of Old House Architectural Parts on East Main Street in Front Royal, notes the referenced article publicized not only their architectural efforts on their own home, but Front Royal and its downtown business district as well.
Failmezger produced a copy of the article from which the quote Tederick used to label him an elitist was taken. The relevant section from which Tederick quoted reads:
“Travis McDonald, director of architectural restoration for Poplar Forest, says the Failmezgers are members of an elite group. The Museum of Southern History outside Houston copied the exterior of the Jefferson retreat, he says, but the inside bears no resemblance to Poplar Forest. Otherwise, McDonald knows of only a handful of projects in which the Poplar Forest plans have been ‘reinterpreted.’ The Failmezgers, he says, are unusual in their fidelity to Jefferson’s vision.”
Poplar Forest was Thomas Jefferson’s private house outside of Lynchburg, VA. He built that home starting in 1806, Failmezger told us. The Failmezger home was designed, both inside and out, to mirror Jefferson’s design.
However Tederick said he “completely” stands by his letter, including the above quote. While some might view the Failmezgers’ desire to design a home based on one of Virginia’s most prominent architects and politicians as a creative tribute, Tederick sees it more negatively.
“How many people do you know who have a house modeled on Thomas Jefferson’s?” he asks.
Tederick says he believes his portrayal of Failmezger is accurate and for the independent candidate to say he is pro-business is “disingenuous”. Rather, Tederick feels Failmezger has a vested interest in protecting in-town commercial development, where the candidate has his own business interests.
In his campaign, downtown businessman and North River District Planning Commission representative Failmezger has promised to balance the business interests of the county and town. His campaign brochure states, “… the town and county are interwoven. A vibrant downtown and a controlled commercial and industrial corridor in the county are essential to the community.”
While he said he does not totally dismiss the notion of good planning, Tederick sees Failmezger’s use of the word “controlled” regarding north corridor commercial development as code for no commercial growth in the corridor.
However Failmezger counters that notion by pointing out that he once was personally involved in attempting to recruit an outside commercial/industrial client to the county’s north corridor.
“So it is just not true that I am against the creation of jobs or increasing the commercial tax base of this community,” Failmezger insists.
As for Tederick’s assertion he “verbally attacked” Crooked Run attorney Clay Athey during a 2006 public hearing, Failmezger says, “That I attacked Athey at that public hearing – that’s just not true. I said there was a lot of unused commercial land in the corridor that I would like to see used before there was further commercial rezoning. I may have said I liked to see trees on that hill, I’m not sure about cedar (as referenced in Tederick’s letter), rather than additional commercial buildings there. But I made no personal reference to Mr. Athey,” Failmezger says.
As for a commitment to preservation of natural settings, Failmezger said he is not arrogantly dictating anything to anybody. Rather, as he did at the Sept. 25th Candidates’ Forum and in his campaign literature, he points to the result of a 2010 Countywide survey in which citizens listed “rural settings, quiet and peaceful surroundings and current quality of life” as their three top reasons for living in Warren County.
As for Tederick’s assertion he is personally responsible for ongoing delays at the Crooked Run Center, Failmezger observes, “That land (Crooked Run II) is rezoned for development – it was approved by the supervisors. It was the developer who said well, we’re not ready so we will proffer not developing [Phase II of Crooked Run] before 2012. It wasn’t me, it was the economy that has held that development up.”
But Tederick’s not buying it. – “He has selective memory,” he said of Failmezger. “It’s just different visions … Win or lose this battle’s not over … I’m a passionate guy … I’m not arrogant enough to say I’m always right … but I believe what I say,” Tederick told us.
And so it goes on the campaign trail in Front Royal and Warren County as Election Day 2011 approaches.