Opinions vary on Hurt’s retirement

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2015

U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt’s announcement that he will not seek a fourth team representing the Fifth Congressional District may have stunned political pundits, but in Lunenburg County it was largely met with a yawn.

Instead, largely jaded residents said his decision to leave office means nothing more than another politician will take his place.

“So what?” said the bearded man in Kenbridge wearing overalls who declined to give his name. “He’s already got his money. The working people are the ones going broke.”

Hurt was first elected to Congress in 2010, unseating Democrat Tom Perriello. He represents the state’s largest district, which includes Lunenburg County. The seat opening has prompted speculation and a line of potential candidates from both the republican and democrat party.

Others, though not as harsh, shared a similar blasé view of our political system and Hurt’s departure.

Mark Ricciarelli, who lives in north Chesterfield but is building a cabin in Lunenburg County that he will move his family into, said it doesn’t matter who is elected because “the system is the problem.”

“I sort of lost faith in this political system,” he said. “I feel like my vote doesn’t count anymore so I stopped voting.”

Sid Smyth, a realtor and auctioneer, said that he leans conservative, but it seems that neither party is responsive to the public.

“I have an opinion that the democrats and the republicans, it’s a fraternity up there,” he said. “I don’t think they have much impact on the working man.”

But not all were cynical.

Clarence Clarke, who with his wife runs the nonprofit BLISS Thrift Store Inc. in Victoria, said he was surprised by Hurt’s decision.

“I thought he was going to be a little bit longer in office,” he said. “He was looking out for the small towns. I think he was very good up in Washington.”

Now, Clarke said, he wants to see someone succeed Hurt who also has an interest in looking after small towns. “The small town is the backbone of the United States,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kendra Wilson, of Victoria, said that while she has largely ignored politics, the prospect of a hotly contested race might stoke her interest.

“I don’t know, but I’m ready to know,” she Wilson, 20, leaving the Victoria Little B convenience store with her one-year-old son and four year-old daughter. “I might know by then.”