Editor: Lovettsville is in the news again, for all the wrong reasons, for all the same reasons, a culture of hate engendered by the Lovettsville Town Council. However, this time it’s not overt racism; it’s aggressive hatred toward the LGBTQ community.
Loudoun Now reported: “… on Monday afternoon two pride flags were damaged at homes on East Pennsylvania Avenue and South Loudoun Street. Then, two flags were reported stolen from the South Loudoun Street location between Tuesday, June 15 and Wednesday, June 16.” But, now it’s clear this incident is part of a broader pattern for what Mayor Fontaine called “Mayberry.”
Four years ago, with the departure of Mayor Bob Zoldos, a sea change occurred. Bob, Councilpersons Tiffany Carder, Kim Allar, Jim McIntyre, Mike Senate, and others had not stood for re-election.
While remarkably diverse in party affiliation and positions on the political landscape, that group never allowed partisan issues to enter town hall. Instead, they displayed mature, inclusive leadership that was above reproach.
The vacuum swept in Mayor Nate Fontaine, Chris Hornbaker, Renee Edmonston, David Steadman, then two years later, Buck Smith, David Earl and Joy Pritz. The common denominator for this group is that they were elected because outside interests with dark intentions were allowed to permeate the election run-up.
The far-right wing Virginia Constitutional Conservatives and Second Amendment zealot Warner Workman worked tirelessly to smear the opponents of these candidates and their supporters, stopping at nothing to secure their victories. And they won.
A second amendment rally followed shortly after the election to pressure the Council to adopt a poorly worded, empty position on an issue that, at the time, was not something a town could affect. But it did affect the town inasmuch as it divided it.
Vice Mayor Chris Hornbaker is no stranger to controversy. While as a Planning Commissioner, he was targeted by Bob Zoldos council for removal for bullying and intimidation. The mayor’s email explaining his investigation said: “I spoke to most if not all of the people who were a witness to the bullying/intimidation that you referenced…It was clear that people were either uncomfortable with Commissioner Hornbaker’s actions or felt threatened…We spoke with the VML (Virginia Municipal League) attorney to determine what we could do about these type of actions by a PC member. “
Zoldos went on to say, “I, like you, abhor the use of bullying and intimidation to slow or affect the governance of our Town. We took the above actions because you brought these concerns to light and because we absolutely detest this type of behavior.”
Those were the days of Lovettsville as quirky and fun-loving with its signature Mayfest, Oktoberfest, and summers on the green programs. That was when the most important news was the town changing its name to Capitalsville while the Washington Capitals worked their way to a Stanley Cup victory.
Fast forward to 2020 when Vice Mayor Hornbaker, with the support of councilwoman Edmonston, nominated a person to the Town’s Oktoberfest committee who had made blatantly racist comments online. The Oktoberfest chairman, a parent in a biracial family, was incensed. The Council’s tolerance for racism was astonishing. The mayor later vetoed the appointment.
While the vast majority of Lovettsville residents pine for quirky, small-town values, many resigned from the town’s commissions and committees at that time because of the hateful tone emanating from the Town Council.
The question is whether those who defaced the LGBTQ flags in town were emboldened by believing this alt-right town government will tolerate it. The sheriff is certainly taking it seriously.
The mayor, Nate Fontaine, came out with a strongly worded message condemning this latest flag incident. But, in all likelihood, that is just his political instinct protecting his desire for higher office.
In Fontaine’s years as Planning Commission vice chairman, councilman, and now Mayor, he has yet to call out or attempt to reign in the town bully, Vice Mayor Hornbaker. In fact, no defense of Hornbaker is ever offered, it is simply met by the vice mayor’s acolytes attacking the accusers, and publicly smearing them (a form of bullying), and then proffering that he is a misunderstood gentle giant.
The only saving grace is that 2022 is an election year. This may cause the council to feign concern and condemn the vandalism. But ask around town, mainstream voters are not comfortable with an alt-right Town Council, and the Democrat progressives are incensed by it. Someone needs to step up.
Frank McDonough, Lovettsville