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March 5, 2018

Judge: Council candidate must avoid incumbent

Town council candidates Keith Macdonald and Linda “Sunny” Reynolds faced off in court Monday afternoon.
I was not confrontational. I was not loud. I was not rude.
— Keith Macdonald
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
A Warrenton Town Council candidate must stay away from an incumbent he hopes to unseat in the May 1 election.

Fauquier County General District Court Judge J. Gregory Ashwell issued a protective order against town resident and real estate investor Keith A. Macdonald on Monday afternoon.

Mr. Macdonald may have “no contact of any kind” with Councilwoman Linda “Sunny” Reynolds for one year, according to the judge’s order.

Ms. Reynolds sought the protective order after a Feb. 15 encounter with Mr. Macdonald at Claire’s at The Depot, a popular restaurant and bar in Old Town.

As she and a friend sat at a nearby high-top table, Mr. Macdonald came over from the bar at least twice, according to testimony during a 30-minute hearing.

“He was agitated and aggressive” on his last visit to the table, Ms. Reynolds testified. He waved his finger within 6 inches of her face, she said.

“I said to him, ‘I’d like to give you a piece of advice. If you’d spend a little time fixing up the dilapidated buildings you have in town . . . .’ ” she recalled saying.

Her attorney, Scott Hook, asked Ms. Reynolds if Mr. Macdonald’s behavior made her afraid.

“Yes,” she replied. “He just got more and more aggressive. I was afraid he might hit me.

“He said, ‘I’m gonna get you. I’m gonna fix you. All it takes is 125 signatures' ” to get on the town council ballot, which Mr. Macdonald has done.

Crystal McKinsey, who had met Ms. Reynolds for drinks and dinner around 6:30 p.m., said he seemed “very upset.”

Ms. McKinsey said she introduced herself to Mr. Macdonald and shook his hand in an effort to diffuse the situation. She also took a copy of a brochure he prepared for “Library 2.0,” a mixed-use development he has proposed for his property at Winchester and Diagonal streets. The plan calls for a new county library, apartments, a parking garage and a restaurant on the property.

Ms. Reynolds said she declined to take a copy of the brochure. She and other council members want the county to build a new library on Waterloo Street and have pledged $1 million from the town to help fund it.

Ms. McKinsey said Mr. Macdonald came to the table twice for a total of “three or four minutes,” and his position would have made it impossible for them to move away.

“She was very, very shaken,” she said of Ms. Reynolds after the encounters. “She composed herself a few minutes; then we left.”

Ms. Reynolds said she nervously walked back to her car, parked outside Town Hall, a couple of blocks from the restaurant.

The councilwoman the next day told Police Chief Louis Battle about the incident, and he assigned a detective to take her statement, Ms. Reynolds wrote in a Feb. 20 affidavit. Judge Ashwell that day issued a preliminary protective order, based on that sworn statement, and scheduled the March 5 hearing.

Representing himself, Mr. Macdonald on Monday cross examined witnesses and made his argument against issuance of permanent protective order, effective through March 5, 2019.

“I was not confrontational,” he told the judge. “I was not loud. I was not rude.”

Kate Sprague, a Fauquier Times advertising sales representative, testified that she overheard Mr. Macdonald talking about the councilwoman in the newspaper office Feb. 15, a few hours before their encounter at the restaurant.

He had come to the office to talk with Mara Seaforest, a freelance graphic artist and writer who also does work for the Library 2.0 project, Ms. Sprague testified.

“ ‘If you want to get back at Sunny, embarrass her before the town council’,” Ms. Sprague testified she heard Ms. Seaforest say. And, “ ‘You can go down to Claire’s or Molly’s (Irish Pub on Main Street) and find her’.”

Mr. Macdonald called Warrenton lawyer August McCarthy as his only witness Monday.

Mr. McCarthy said he and his wife sat at the bar with Mr. Macdonald that night but did not witness the alleged confrontations with the councilwoman, sitting about 7 feet away.

“You just can’t confront people and start getting into their face,” Mr. Hook said in his closing statement.

Mr. Macdonald violated his client’s “personal space,” Mr. Hook added. “She couldn’t stand up without bumping into him.”

Immediately after the judge’s ruling Monday, Mr. Macdonald filed notice of his intention to appeal the decision in Fauquier County Circuit Court.

Ms. Reynolds expressed appreciation for Judge Ashwell’s ruling, which also specifies Mr. Macdonald must stay away from her home and the downtown office that houses here photography and global tour businesses.

“I did this for other women . . . . He would not have said those things to any other member of the council,” she said of Mr. Macdonald.

She serves with six men on the seven-member town council.

Four candidates — including Mr. Macdonald and Ms. Reynolds — seek election to the council’s two at-large seats this spring.
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BJ · March 10, 2018 at 3:45 pm
Personally, an arm wrestling contest between these two people to settle a point of honor would have more exciting. All this drama for nothing.
TooTrue · March 7, 2018 at 4:22 pm
Right on Freedom Warrior.
Freedom warrior · March 7, 2018 at 4:13 pm
I wouldn’t vote for either, especially after this event. Thank goodness for Polster and Renard Carlos.
TooTrue · March 7, 2018 at 2:08 pm
Glory hit the nail on the head!
TooTrue · March 7, 2018 at 2:05 pm
Citizen Observer is right. She was voted out and didn't win an election to a developer gave her over $30,000 in her last election. Not only is she bought and paid for, she is simply awful as is Keith McDonald. Fortunately other options are available to the voters. The P.A.C. that was created to put her in office has more than a few questionable people involved.
citizen observer · March 7, 2018 at 11:54 am
People forget Ms. Reynolds was voted out of office many years ago. She only resumed a council position because the last at-large council election was uncontested. She will pull any necessary strings to retain her spot. If she finds a way to use her developer funds to eliminate her other remaining opponents, she will!

Both of these 2 have demonstrated they do not belong in the Council.
brianroeder · March 7, 2018 at 11:10 am
Thank you Youdontsay. May I please ask: were you present that night to observe any of the behaviors reported in the article by either party?
Youdontsay · March 7, 2018 at 11:05 am
to brianroeder

Brianroeder: I am absolutely not suggesting that our elected officials should not expect privacy if they are in a public but, I for one have been in Claire's while Ms. Reynolds has been present and have always found her to be very vocal and discussing town issues. She is a council member therefore her elected position requires her to be social when at a town establishment. I think it is great that she supports our local government. I am suggesting that in many ways alcohol can cause conflict. However, I also don't think it looks very good that it is known by residents in the town that our elected officials can easily be found at the bar during happy hour on a regular basis. This is my opinion and you have the right to have your own. As for the article stating about over indulgence that is a known from several of them that I have seen with my own etes.
brianroeder · March 7, 2018 at 10:00 am
Youdontsay. Thank you for your response. It is not clear in anything that I have read above that overindulgence in alcohol was a factor in any of this. I believe that you introduced that assertion. Regards.
Youdontsay · March 7, 2018 at 9:48 am
Tobrianroeder. Are you that confused about my post? Seriously? I said having a glass of wine at dinner at a local restaurant is fine but over indulging in alcohol at the bar is not a proper way that a councilman should be acting. This is my opinion . As we all know alcohol can cause conflicts and if you want to stay clear of the conflicts you may want to be more selective on your choose of Restaurants and atmosphere . Councilman should be held to the highest in that location they serve. They should be good examples to the community but hanging out of the bar every single night or several nights a week I feel is not a good example to the community. You can change my words , change my meaning and change anything about what I'm saying but I'm being extremely blunt and if you don't understand that that I feel sorry for you. Have a great day I'm not responding to this post I've said what I have had to say .
brianroeder · March 7, 2018 at 8:57 am
To Youdontsay: Respectfully, are you are suggesting that our elected officials should not expect privacy if they are in a public place dining or having a drink? Or are you suggesting that our elected officials should not expect to be able to enjoy dining and drinking in public? Or are you suggesting that Claire's is a bar and not a restaurant? Or are you really suggesting that alcohol by its very nature causes conflict? I am really confused by your comments below. Perhaps you can illuminate all of us?
brianroeder · March 7, 2018 at 8:52 am
I will not validate the "women's card" comments with a response. Sunny works her heart out for our community. Some men who want power believe that there is an acceptable model for using physical intimidation to attempt to cower a female political opponent. Such attempts are misguided and simply wrongheaded. The recipient of such an attempt at physical intimidation has every right to expect legal protection from the implied threat of violence. This restraining order is just such an appropriate and measured action.
Youdontsay · March 6, 2018 at 10:45 pm
Maybe these councilmen/women should use better judgment the places they attend "such as bars"! It doesnt take a rocket scientist to know when you are in an environment with alcohol being served there can always be conflict! I agree dinner and a glass of wine are fine but hanging out at bars is probably not the best for counsilman to be spending their spare time. I see it happening way to often. Things will happen when alcohol is involved and conflict will happend. Just an observation.
Silii · March 6, 2018 at 9:16 pm
Hysteria? Are you serious? Clearly you have never been accosted and threatened. It is quite frightening. I am glad Sunny got the restraining order. I was verbally and physically threatened by a bully once in public. I called the police, filed charges, and took the creep to court. There were no witnesses so it was my word against his. The judge fined him, slapped a restraining order on him, made him pay court charges and banned him from the public park where the incident took place. Mr. McDonald needs to learn to control himself. What he did is not acceptable under any circumstances.
Glory · March 6, 2018 at 8:31 pm
Sonny is NO public servant. Sonny is out of touch with the average Warrenton resident and feels threatened because she's getting ready to loose the council seat she currently fills. Anybody but Sonny Reynolds for council!!!
Vickie · March 6, 2018 at 6:17 pm
P.S. Just in case I give the wrong impression, I am not taking up for the developer. I am trying to show people that hysteria is not the way to show good leadership, and harms the incumbent as well. Neither should get voted in. If there are not enough candidates to fill both positions once you remove hysteria and self promotion, then leave one empty. The town needs neither of them.
Vickie · March 6, 2018 at 6:13 pm
I can see the headlines now. Warrenton VA elects Queen of Hysteria. Cool, calm, collected, not so much. This is how to make a headline when someone disagrees. Run straight to a restraining order. Should be able to settle differences easily under this scenario.
ohashala · March 6, 2018 at 3:51 pm
What happens if they both get elected? How will they communicate (effectively)? Will they pass notes?
martinkus · March 6, 2018 at 2:53 pm
Right on, citizen observer! Two knuckleheads indeed!
citizen observer · March 6, 2018 at 10:43 am
This is what happens when 2 pro-developers collide. It's an embarrassment. Neither will get my vote.
Silii · March 6, 2018 at 8:55 am
This incident has nothing to do with thickness of skin. It has everything to do with a person invading another's space in an aggressive manner. It has everything to do with a person having the right to their personal time and space without aggressive, unwanted advances. And, it's true - Ms. Reynolds is the only female on the town council, so stating such is a simple statement of fact, and, yes, it is a gender description. So what? If you have ever had someone violate your personal space in an angry and threatening manner, you understand how unnerving and fear-inducing the experience can be.
Vickie · March 6, 2018 at 1:59 am
Wow. Already went right to gender. Now, if people will see the folly in a person less than 21 running for mayor. Perhaps we need someone else in the at large position who isn't so thin skinned this next time.

The library is a major issue, and should already have been funded, and for that matter, built. Let's not make this a "Me too" event, when someone disagrees with you.
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