Maynard, Irwin seek supervisor's seat in Wilson

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Only one Grayson County incumbent will face a challenger this year in the Nov. 3 general election.

The race for the Wilson District seat on the Grayson County Board of Supervisors pits Republican incumbent Mike Maynard against Democratic challenger Kate Irwin.

Incumbent Elk Creek Supervisor Brenda Sutherland will run unopposed, as she seeks her first full term. She is serving a one-year term as a result of a special election in 2008.

Only two candidates — both incumbents — filed to run for the Grayson County School Board. Misty Cassell of the Elk Creek District and Shannon Holdaway of the Wilson District will both run unopposed.

Kate Irwin

Irwin, 49, has been self-employed for the past 20 years, but has a career history that includes working in the legal, marketing, fund-raising and publishing fields.

"As a resident and businessperson, I have a very vested interest in Grayson County's present and future," Irwin told The Gazette. "I have served in administrative positions, both private and corporate, dealing with diverse opinions, and know the value of working out a consensus to achieve goals."

Her campaign focus has included managing Grayson County within its budget, with examination of the current budget and cash flow accompanied by careful planning for debt reduction and spending.

If elected, Irwin said she would focus on strengthening the schools by working with the school board and teachers on improving teacher salaries and benefits, thereby retaining and/or recruiting teachers that inspire Grayson County children.

She added that she will work for smart land use and zoning to provide opportunities for growth, yet preserve Grayson's farms and rural communities beginning with review of the current comprehensive plan and zoning regulations to see where improvement and finalization can be made.

Irwin said her top priority for Grayson County is fiscal responsibility and balance.

"Our county's budget is a mess," she told The Gazette. "It needs to be reigned in and examined for areas in which spending can be trimmed or eliminated. We need to make sure our expenses are minimized and our bills are paid."

Irwin grew up in Elmira, N.Y., and has lived in Grayson for more than 10 years with her husband, Mark. The couple has two children, Sarah and Aaron, both graduates of Grayson County High School.

Mike Maynard

Maynard, 61, is seeking his second term on the board.

He worked for more than 25 years at Fortune 500 companies including Proctor & Gamble and Pfizer and was part of two start-up companies that were very successful.

He retired to Grayson County in 2000.

As a member of the Board of Supervisors and in roles on other boards, Maynard said he has attracted more than $115 million in state and federal funding to Grayson County, which will create more than 400 new jobs and make for a better community.

"I fought to save the new prison and its 325 jobs, when a small group of well-financed people tried to convince the governor that the people of Grayson County did not want a prison located here," Maynard said.

Maynard travelled to Richmond to meet with the governor and argue that the people of Grayson — and the Wilson District — were very much in favor of the new facility and jobs promised.

Maynard added that he helped bring "badly needed investment to western Grayson County" with a new school, which will offer students "exceptional learning opportunities; a new water system that will supply homes, businesses and the school with an affordable, safe water source; and a 21st Century telecommunications system that will offer residents in western Grayson County world-class connectivity."

Maynard feels county government has become much more complicated than in the past and now requires leadership and management skills so Grayson can successfully compete against other localities in Virginia.

"My experience in management and business allow me to quickly instill confidence in those potential state and federal agencies who are considering investing in our communities."

Maynard said his first priority if re-elected is to "continue Grayson County's tradition of low taxes for all taxpayers, and an efficient, low-cost county government."

He added that low taxes for all can be achieved, as long as the county government watches its spending and invests smartly in long-term projects that will support important community initiatives.

Another priority for Grayson, according to Maynard, is to work "tirelessly" for job creation and continue pursuing state and federal funds to create a county that will be attractive to potential investors and provide new employment opportunities.

Born and raised in Bainbridge, Ga., Maynard served with the U.S. Army in Germany and with the 101st Airborne Division. He and his wife Linda have been married for 40 years and have three daughters (Lee, Michaela and Emily) and two grandchildren.