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Posted on: September 21, 2021

Council Candidates: In their own words

This was also published in the fall Hanover Review:

On May 4th, 2021, Ashland’s Town Council voted to move the next local municipal elections from May 2022 to November 2021. 

To streamline election processes statewide, the Commonwealth of Virginia mandated in March 2021 that local Town Council elections move from spring to fall. Town Council’s vote in May is in accordance with the new state law and aligns local elections with state elections, which are held on the first Tuesday of November every two years in odd-numbered years. This change shortens the term of sitting Councilmembers by six months. 

The next Town Council election will be held on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021, for a four-year term beginning January 1st, 2022. Daniel W. McGraw, David J. Frisch, and John H. Hodges are the three certified candidates vying for the two available seats on Council this election cycle. If you need to register to vote or have other election questions, contact the Hanover County Voter Registration & Elections office at (804) 365-6080 or Council candidates run without party affiliation and there is no primary. 

The three certified Council candidates were provided these six questions to help Ashland voters get to know them. 

  1. What is your name and where do you live?
  2. Why did you decide to run for Town Council? 
  3. What personal attributes do you believe will be an asset as a Town Council member? 
  4. What are the greatest challenges facing the Town in the future?
  5. What are the greatest opportunities the Town has in the future?
  6. What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected? 


Daniel McGraw

  1. My name is Daniel W. McGraw, and I live on Dewey Street.
  2. Some of my previous students in high school and middle school were children of council members, including our previous Mayor. We often had intriguing conversations about servant leadership, and the value of civic participation. I tell my friends all of the time that I learn just as much from my students as they learn from me. I decided to put thought to action and run for Town Council to serve our community by reaching out to every citizen to understand individual concerns and collaborate with our peers to address our collective needs.
  3. Many of my friends and colleagues tell me that I am a good listener. I do take pride in ensuring that all voices are heard. Another trait that I possess is the value of hard work, attendance, and attitude. Maybe it is my competitive nature, but I always strive to be the very best that I can be. The way I see it is that we are always a reflection of more than ourselves. We are always stronger as a unit than we are as individuals. 
  4. Broadband access and transportation of resources are the major influences on future business, home values, and quality of life. Access to resources and the Internet are the basis for our global economy. We must consider how best to protect our community as we implement responsible growth.
  5. Our greatest opportunities are still connected to Broadband and transportation. In order to attract the businesses that have minimum impact on urban sprawl and maximum impact on the quality of life, we must be thinking about ways to assist landowners in how to market their undeveloped parcels and reimagine their existing properties.
  6. If re-elected, I plan to continue to foster quality relationships within our greater region to ensure that Ashland remains a prominent asset to the Central Virginia corridor. I also hope to give voice to our residents and do all that I can to protect our communities. Ashland is unique: We have urban amenities with rural traditions. In our downtown area, we have a farmers' market, microbrewery, escape room, many restaurants, and amazing artistry stores. Outside of downtown, we still have convenient shopping, fast food, and service stations. I like to think we have it all, and I plan to keep it that way.

David Frisch

1.  David Frisch; Early Street.

2. We had an issue involving the town and a residential development in Hanover. The developer was planning on cutting a swath right beside our house and we didn’t know anything about it. We had several communications with the town, with town council members, with the developer and our neighbors and we were able to save the trees that would have been demolished. We felt like we were negotiating with the developer on behalf of Ashland and we wondered why the town wasn’t more involved. At this point, neighbors and local business owners started telling us about their concerns whenever they have to communicate with the town so I decided to run in the hopes that we can help improve things for all Ashlanders. We really love this town and because of its size, town management and council members really should be able to have informative and transparent personal interactions with citizens.

3. I’m told I’m a great listener. I’ve been a professor for many decades and in that role, I have addressed and solved numerous student concerns. I know how to make difficult decisions and my decisions are never made without obtaining input from all affected parties. I also know how to ask difficult questions and prioritize projects. For example, I remain unconvinced (and I’m not alone in this regard) that the monies expended on the new town hall were put to their best use. I believe that other options were available to give the town a building that positively reflects on Ashland.

4. I’m happy to listen to the concerns of all Ashlanders, but at this point, a great challenge seems to be supporting existing businesses and creating an aesthetically pleasing gateway into Ashland. We walk the streets of Ashland all the time. Improving the town’s infrastructure could make Ashland a safer place for residents and an attractive destination for others. For example, sidewalks on well-traveled streets are needed for safety reasons and if the town’s electrical grid were upgraded, our festival activities would be improved.

5. At this point, having spoken to many Ashlanders, I think one of their important needs is to take care of the basics—sidewalks, and improvements like closing roads, planting a few trees, inexpensive things that have a big bang for the buck. Figuring out what to do with dormant buildings and coming back from last year is why a fresh perspective is so important right now.

6. Sometimes, when an Ashlander sends a concern to the town, a slew of folks get copied into the email. My goal will be to assign each problem to one person on the town staff and that person will make sure the problem is handled effectively and efficiently and that communication is clear and consistent with the community member. That’s the least that we can expect from our town staff and I think as is, there’s a bit of muddling and confusion. We need to get better at fixing issues and communicating. That would be my first project if elected. And, please note, it wouldn’t cost the town a penny.


John Hodges

  1. John H. Hodges, Howard Street
  2. By seeking reelection, I want to continue serving the community by supporting projects initiated in my first 4 years on Council (appointed in 2017 to fill vacancy, elected in 2018, selected Vice Mayor) like increasing accessibility to the new Town Hall and Carter Park Pool and to continue to practice good planning for the betterment of the environment, businesses, the Town's diversity, and quality of life. 
  3. My experience, including 16 years as Hanover Planning Director and 12 years as Deputy County Administrator (retired in 2010) as well as raising a family for 39 years as a resident of the Town (active in PTA, Ashland Soccer/Little League, Kiwanis, Ashland Museum and Hanover Habitat for Humanity). 
  4. As a small town, Ashland must remain fiscally responsible and customer friendly while continuing to provide excellence in public safety, staffing and community facilities. We must deal with external threats to Ashland's small town character presented by the potential adverse impacts of traffic congestion from surrounding development and I-95, and planned increases in rail and passenger activity through Town. 
  5. Helping businesses and residents recover from the pandemic by encouraging new investment in appropriate economic job opportunities and as well as in our historic, affordable and diverse neighborhoods. Working with the College, Hanover County, State and Regional agencies to promote projects that benefit the Town like on-campus housing and cultural activities, the Ashland to Petersburg Fall Line Trail, and the consolidation of the Town's elementary schools. 
  6. Securing the Town's Quality of Life by supporting our businesses and nonprofits, building public and private partnerships that support Ashland's downtown, neighborhood revitalization, and safe pedestrian and bike friendly streets that help make Ashland a great community in which to work and live.

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