Some readers have recently been taking the Mirror to task regarding the Cape Charles town elections in 2022. They feel the Tim Mclatchy mayoral campaign was somehow subverted, and that the Mirror dropped the ball by ignoring it. In fact, some have noted that our somewhat laissez-faire approach makes us complicit. There may be something to that. The Mirror does not endorse candidates and tries to stay as neutral as possible. As a matter of fact, we have pretty much written the whole election thing off, top to bottom. This election is the last time this writer will ever vote. However, the criticism is probably justified, so we decided to look back at the unfortunate events that led up to election day.
The 2022 election seemed like a normal, boring, small-town affair. Most candidates seem to agree more than disagree, but the mayoral race between Mclatchy and Carney was a little more nuanced and offered more differentiation.
The Mirror did not meet with either candidate since time and schedules made it hard to meet with both. Over time, we did talk with folks that did support them and were more than happy to provide their candid takes.
Adam Charney seemed like a person that really loved the town and especially loved living in the town. His goals seem more aesthetic, or copasetic, as his tagline clearly stated, “Keep Cape Charles Charming.” The real question is how charming is it, or more appropriately, how charming was it ever. In essence, it was recognizing the town was moving forward, but let’s try and keep it livable for full-time residents during the tourist season.
Tim Mclatchy, according to others was also a cool guy and shared Charney’s elective affinity for Cape Charles, but he seemed like someone that might be a little more anxious to get his hands dirty, more willing to review expenditures, look for waste, and see if privatizing town assets is in the taxpayer’s interest. The two campaigns were somewhat similar, but discernible in key areas.
The weirdness began a few weeks before the election when the Mirror received an anonymous email that was directly attacking Mclatchy:
I hope that you plan on doing your own candidate interviews for the Mirror as you have done in the past? If you do, I would like to pass on a few leads that might help to present one candidate’s background in a truer light then he himself did last night. The candidate is Tim McLatchy running for mayor.
You might consider asking Tim to clarify his current employment. He claimed “IT”. That is only partially true in that a cursory review of his LinkedIn profile shows he is a software salesman not a technician. In fact, it shows he is a journeyman salesman. One wonders how he will balance the duties of mayor while he spends days out of town on travel for his salesman job? He avoided specifics about his local residency. The McLatchys did not buy their current Bay Creek (failed to mention the Bay Creek association) home until April 2020 and did not sell their NoVA home until March 2022. That is two years full-time residency max here and perhaps only 6 months on the short side. So his remark about tourists being “just different from US” is a little misleading for those concerned about this. He claimed to be a coach. Again, LinkedIn shows he was once a parks and recreation volunteer coach. Tim stated that he had graduated from Penn St. This appears true, but it took him 6 years to emerge with a General Studies degree because his first two years were spent playing basketball for their Mont Alto 2yr feeder branch. And finally, Tim made it a point to claim American Legion membership. A more incisive question might be, “Are you a veteran?” I assume he was trying to court the military vote here, but I don’t see any reference to him ever having served.
I hope you find this useful. You won’t hear from me again. I just hate to see Cape Charles residents get hoodwinked by a “move here” that shades the truth with such apparent forethought. Perhaps a turn as a town board member after having lived here a while first might have been the way to start?
At the time, the Mirror did not think much of it. It’s a small town after all, and not much else to do in the evening except settle old scores. The email was sent using a service that completely hides the identity of the sender. The Mirror will always keep people’s names out of things and publish with anonymity, but we must at least verify who they are before we can trust what they are pushing. In this case, we couldn’t do either, so we left it where it lies.
Then things started to get more weird. During the candidate debates, Mclatchy noted that he, unlike other candidates, was not taking donations from others in town.
It seemed like a legit way to differentiate himself from the other candidate, but soon after, Mayor Dize goes on Facebook and attacks Tim Mclatchy. Apparently, having the audacity to bring up campaign donations is a no-no within the gentrified political circles of Cape Charles (see here and here). The exchanges between Dize and other citizens got nasty and probably should have been a red flag for the Mirror. By attacking Mclatchy, Dize was essentially pouring support towards Charney—as a popular incumbent, that always carries a lot of weight. The election results bear a good bit of this out.
Mr. Mclatchy contacted the Mirror about unconfirmed rumors that there were ties between Mr. Charney and the Yacht Center. We had heard these rumors too, but it’s a free country and people can donate to whomever they want. Yes, Adam Charney had during the campaign noted that the harbor was a crown jewel, and the town should invest more into it. But we didn’t think much of it since we see his point, and somewhat agree.
Again, we just dropped this.
Things did seem off, and we were left scratching our heads at some of the things taking place. We have known Mr. Dize for many years, and we know he is a good guy that truly believes in doing what is best for Cape Charles. So, what gives? What is Mayor Dize’s beef with Mclatchy? Why is this generating so much animosity?
The next thing we hear is that Mr. Dize is made the General Manager of the Yacht Center. People were like, “What? Huh? Oh? Wut??”.
Let’s be honest. Southport, or the CC Yacht Center, or whatever name it goes by, controls the harbor, but it does so at the pleasure of the Town Council. Was the fear that Mr. Mclatchy might start sniffing around, and possibly push to re-evaluate the harbor relationship?
That’s possible, but not likely–there were a lot of other reasons for all the commotion, the shadow interference, and the smoke screens. Who’s paying attention to the multi-million dollar employee wellness spa…we mean the new, expanded municipal center? How about the increase in staff bloat? How many police vehicles does a town this size really need? Oh, and yes, the correlation between the proposed “workforce housing” project and the dubious sale of water and wastewater utilities to Virginia American Water. Notice that they were sure to finalize that deal before the next set of “elected” officials were sworn in. Despite all of the “we’re doing due diligence”, yadda, yadda, or “we need public input”, yadda, yadda, this deal was done on VAWs timeframe, and with the correct players in place.
Weird feeling: Is the workforce housing project really just Phase I of utility expansion out into the county, tying everyone now on well/septic into the Cape Charles tax machine?
All a coincidence? At least we hope so. It’s all water under the bridge, been written off a bad job, but it does feel like the Mirror may have failed here. Not sure what we could have done differently, but doing nothing is not the right answer–even if this is just a nothing burger, it is at least a big cheeseball. We should know better by now, as once again it seems like the same old Cape Charles, the Real Cape Charles, the one that never completely passes the smell test. In our defense, you can only beat your head against the wall so many times before you finally realize there’s just another one right behind it. But, we’re not dumb and realize we’re just a broken toy standing in the rain talking to ourselves anyhow.
So it goes. Happy New Year.