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‘I am running to restore the professional standards to the office that many in Manassas believe have slipped’

Russell Harrison is running to the be the next Manassas City Treasurer. This is his second time around running for the office. 

This is his second time around running for the office. Harrison lost by three points to current officeholder Patricia Richie-Folks during a special election held last November. 

This election season, we’re asking candidates who wish to reach our readers a “why you should vote for me” email by Oct. 27, 2017. 

Harrison sent us this email below: 

I am a nonprofit executive and former Manassas Volunteer of the Year, and I would like to be the next Manassas City Treasurer.   I am running to restore the professional standards to the office that many in Manassas believe have slipped.

The City Treasurer is a full-time professional position.  We need someone who understands how to run an office, understands laws and regulations, and who understands complicated finance and budgeting. We need someone who can lead.

I do and I can.  I am the only candidate with the background to do the job right.

I am currently a senior executive with the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  There I manage a professional staff that I built over the past several years.  My career with nonprofits has spanned over 20 years and includes earning my CAE (Certified Association Executive), the highest level of professional certification in the nonprofit world.    

Both my Masters in Public Management and my CAE required learning advanced finance, budgeting, and management.  I also have extensive practical experience with organizational budgets and financing, as well as financial and budget policy, through my work with the IEEE.  

Here in the City of Manassas, I’ve been a dedicated volunteer leader for well over a decade.  My service to Manassas includes four years as a member of the Manassas Planning Commission, eight years as a CCD teacher at All Saints Church, seven years as a school volunteer, and six years on the Manassas Electoral Board.

In 2015, I was honored to be named Manassas Volunteer of the Year, and am one of the youngest people ever to earn that award.

Public service is a tradition in my family.  My wife and I met in a service fraternity in college.  Stepping up and contributing to our schools and community is simply part of who we are.  We enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to contributing even more as City Treasurer.

Kathy, my wife of 19 years, is President of the Metz PTA, and served as President of the Mayfield and Haydon PTAs previously.  We’ve both volunteered for Manassas Public Schools for years to help make our schools better for all of our children, but also to provide an example to our son.  

Robin Perkins, Manassas’ past Treasurer who served with distinction as for 19 years before retiring last year, has endorsed me in this election.  Nobody knows better what it takes to be a successful Treasurer than Robin.  I am very proud that she believes I am the best person to replace her.

I have earned a reputation for honesty, hard work and integrity here in Manassas.  Moreover, I have demonstrated an ability and commitment to serving all residents in this city.  As Chair of the Electoral Board in particular, I worked to ensure that our elections were as fair, open and accessible to all citizens as possible.  Manassas needs a Treasurer who can work across party lines, neighborhoods and other divisions in our city.  I’ve been doing exactly that over a decade – and you can be sure I will continue to work to pull our community together as your Treasurer.

Lastly, all government officials must obey the ethics rules, but Treasurers, who are entrusted with the people’s money, need to be above reproach.  I have demonstrated in my career, in my service to Manassas and in my personal life a sincere commitment to the highest standards of conduct and professionalism.  I will bring this commitment into the Manassas City Treasurer’s office.

You can learn more about my campaign at russ4manassas.com and on Facebook at #Russ4Manassas.

Our new City Treasurer will be elected on November 7.

At Potomac Local, we will never tell you for whom to vote for but if you have strong feelings toward a candidate and want to tell our readers who to vote for, you may submit your post for publication

  • Allen Muchnick

    Once again, Russ Harrison unethically attempts to build a case for his election with false and unsubstantiated attacks against his opponent, our current City Treasurer Patricia Richie-Folks, who is well-qualified for the position, was elected by a majority of Manassas voters in 2016, and has been competently running the office for the past 11 months.

    Harrison’s leading statement: ‘I am running to restore the professional standards to the office that many in Manassas believe have slipped’ craftily avoids libeling his opponent, only by attributing the made-up charge to unidentified “others”.

    Harrison’s negative campaigning (and the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of some of his partisan supporters, including Robin Perkins loyalists who still work in the Treasuers Office) undermines Harrison’s claimed “reputation for honesty, hard work and integrity” and ability to “work across party lines, neighborhoods and other divisions in our city”..and “pull
    our community together”.

    • Fist Rockbone

      There you go again Allen, spreading lies and half-truths. Nowhere in this article did Mr. Harrison attack his opponent. As a matter of fact, nowhere did he even mention here. You claim a “deep state” exists in the treasurers office? Conspiracy theory, or an excuse for Richie-Folks incompetence. Here’s the facts, regarding Richie-Folks qualifications:

      She was fired from the Manassas Ballet, for (among other things) screwing up a T-shirt sale. Cost-plus arithmetic is beyond her.

      She made no mention of “running a multi-million dollar construction company” during her first 2 runs for office, but she runs for treasurer and all of a sudden she’s a business mogul. She’s offered NO PROOF to substantiate her claims. No business license. Won’t name the company, or even tell us the state of incorporation.

      She declared personal bankruptcy, and has open judgments against her. She’s had her car repossessed. A search of public records reveals this to be true. Better yet, ask her.

      • Manassas Ballet Theatre

        Ms. Richie-Folks was not “fired” by Manassas Ballet Theatre. She resigned to devote her time to her campaign.

        • Fist Rockbone

          Or take a crash course in remedial mathematics, or personal finance.

          • Patricia Richie-Jokes

            Math? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

        • Fist Rockbone

          And Mark Wolfe didn’t declare personal bankruptcy. He declared a business bankruptcy, and only changed it to a personal bankruptcy on election day. Sorry. Can’t believe anything from an organization run by a liar, who left his creditors holding the bag for his mismanagement. Maybe Mark was taking financial advice from Patricia? That would explain much.

          • Trisha Spitler

            He declared personal bankruptcy just before the election. He later also declared business bankruptcy early in 2017.

          • Fist Rockbone

            Actually, the filing was done on election-day. Could be coincidence, or it could be an attempt to avoid political damage. With Wolfe’s history, I choose the latter.

      • Allen Muchnick

        You are the liar “Fist”, and your allegations against Ms. Richie-Folks are nothing more than “Fake News.”

        Go back and read the headline of this article to see that Mr. Harrison sneakily launched an unethical, unsubstantiated attack on the professional competence of his opponent.

        As already posted by “Manassas Ballet Theatre”, Ms. Richie-Folks was never fired by that organization. Rather, she reluctantly quit voluntarily in fall 2016 because her job with the ballet company required extensive weekend work, which kept her from contacting voters on the weekends.

        Patricia cited her past experience co-owning and managing a small business only when she first ran for treasurer, simply because it was far more relevant to that position than it was for a seat on the city council.

        Her personal bankruptcy and judgements happened with a former husband well over a decade ago and are irrelevant to her qualifications and performance as Manassas Treasurer. Moreover, any financial missteps in Patricia’s distant past are insignificant compared to the past, present, and ongoing financial misdeeds, nepotism, tax evasion, and personal corruption of the current President of the United States.

        • Fist Rockbone

          “You are the liar “Fist”, and your allegations against Ms. Richie-Folks are nothing more than “Fake News.”

          Challenge accepted.

          ” judgeme”nts happened with a former husband well over a decade ago and are irrelevant to her qualifications”

          Is that what you claim, or is that what she told you? Ok, so when it comes out, and it will come out, that she was the sole respondent in the suite, which she lost, and the judgement remains outstanding, you are going to look damn silly.

        • Fist Rockbone

          “Patricia cited her past experience co-owning and managing a small business only when she first ran for treasurer, simply because it was far more relevant to that position than it was for a seat on the city council.”

          Ah…she lost the first time she ran for council. Obviously the voters thought she lacked the experience needed, or there was some other lack in her resume. No mention of being a small business owner. She runs again, and loses again, no mention of being a small business owner. But the third time, this time for treasurer, she’s all of a sudden was a construction company owner/manager? If you buy this, you are stupid. If you know it’s a lie or a half-truth, you are party to the deception. As an officer of the Democrat party, I can understand why you feel the need to defend fellow democrats, but to lie for them?

    • Chris Peden

      Mr. Allen,

      If our Treasurer’s staff is helping her opponent (and I have no reason to think that they are) perhaps it is because Patricia Richie-Folks has mistreated them.

      Back in March, Ms. Richie-Folks was caught producing partisan campaign materials in her office, during work hours, with government equipment. Worse, she coerced her staff into appearing in that partisan campaign material. Specifically, she had her staff pose for pictures with her that were then posted to Patricia’s campaign Facebook page, giving the clear impression that her staff were endorsing her. This was grossly, and obviously, unethical.

      Engaging in partisan politics while at work is, I believe, grounds for being fired in Manassas. Patricia put her political ambitions ahead of her professional staff’s jobs. No wonder she doesn’t trust them. Too bad the Treasurer’s staff are the only thing holding that office together.

      • Allen Muchnick

        Chris,

        I had not previously heard anything about the horrible “incident” you allude to; however, these ridiculous allegations seem nothing more than a Robin Perkins/Russ Harrison loyalist, who still works in the Treasurer’s Office, trying to discredit her current boss by making a mountain out of an ant hill.

        First, NO ONE who is running for local office in November would make any significant effort in March to produce “partisan campaign materials in her office, during work hours, with government equipment”.

        Second, even if this charge contains a grain of truth, using ones work computer for some personal business during business hours is a trivial infraction, especially regarding an independently elected official.

        Third, taking a photograph with the Treasurer’s Office staff and posting it on Facebook is something any incumbent office holder is likely to do. Have our mayor and city council members NEVER posted a picture with City staff on a Facebook campaign page? Unless accompanied by a written statement that says otherwise, appearing as an employee in an office photograph is not a re-election endorsement.

        Fourth, Patricia-Richie Folks is an independently elected official. She does not report to the City Manager or to any other City official, and she is not subject to the ban on partisan political activity that applies to all non-elected government employees.

        Fifth, you irresponsibly imply that Patricia may have “mistreated” her employees, without providing any real evidence to substantiate that claim, other than the above-referenced innocuous office staff photo.

        Without evidence of anything more substantial, such petty allegations are merely smear tactics without real merit.

        • Fist Rockbone

          “First, NO ONE who is running for local office in November would make any significant effort in March to produce “partisan campaign materials in her office, during work hours, with government equipment”.” And yet, she did. She posted it to her campaign page, NOT her official treasurer page, which if I am correct, even having her own official treasure page would violate city policy.

        • Patricia Richie-Jokes

          Rules? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

        • Chris Peden

          Allen, would you like me to send you the screenshot?

  • Sharon Ashurst

    I have known Russ for several years and during that time I appreciated his honesty, integrity and wise counsel. He is the most qualified candidate for Manassas City Treasurer through education, experience and leadership. His leadership abilities have been exemplified in his public service to the City of Manassas, in his career, and in his personal life through his Church and his family.

    • Allen Muchnick

      Sharon,

      It’s one thing for any candidate to claim that he or she is the best qualified for the position. In fact, that’s expected.

      It’s another thing to insinuate–in the absence of significant and substantiated evidence–that ones opponent is unqualified or has performed incompetently.

      In his negative campaigning, Russ Harrison has crossed that ethical line on more than one occasion. Sadly, in doing so, Russ has damaged his own reputation for honesty and integrity.

      • Fist Rockbone

        Honesty and Integrity…two traits seldom associated with Patricia Richie-Folks. She is unqualified, because she lied about her background, and has been dishonest about items in her past, which if known, would ultimately disqualify her. Did she disclose certain financial liabilities that she has? Was she truthful about running a construction company? Did she puff up her resume?

        • Allen Muchnick

          All malicious lies.

          • Patricia Richie-Jokes

            Honesty and Integrity? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

          • Fist Rockbone

            So you say. We will see soon. We notice you didn’t refute Mr. Clark’s pointing out the delayed refunds and Patrica’s attempts to blame others. Are these malicious lies too?

      • Trisha Spitler

        Mr. Muchnick, I’m glad to give you evidence of how she’s performed her duties with gross incompetence. I am a lifelong resident of Manassas, and my business has been located her since 2000. The files from the 3 years of overpaid business personal property taxes were turned over to Patricia Richie-Folks on May 13th. All she had to do was verify the amounts and forward them to Stephanie Scherer’s office to process and cut checks. When I received my current personal property tax bill (due October 5th) I was appalled that my business was owed money, yet she had the audacity to bill me prior to previous years being resolved. I called her that day (Sept. 7th) and she told me that her office was working through them alphabetically and they were on the C’s. SEVENTEEN weeks later and she’s done 10%. In fact, completely unwilling to accept any responsibility, she said I should contact the City Manager with any concerns. Consequently, the Finance committee questioned her at their next meeting and she couldn’t answer simple questions about what caused the delay or what her plan was to finish. They pushed her for a date and MIRACULOUSLY they were all done and handed over THREE BUSINESS DAYS later. After eighteen weeks of taxpayer-funded accrued interest on these refunds. Yet my story doesn’t stop there. I still didn’t get my check. Seems our incompetent Treasurer showed her talent yet again. Before she handed over the files, she merged the refund list with a list of folks who had delinquent tax debts to the City. The refund for my business, E. L. Blackwell Electric, Inc. went toward money owed by E & L Builders LLC. That’s really ironic, don’t you think? After I’m the one that brought it to leadership’s attention that I was THE ONLY business that encountered this issue. It’s absolutely ridiculous how this whole thing has played out. Although I was finally able to deposit my refund early last week, the amount of time and effort that I’ve put into getting what is mine is immeasurable.

  • Harry Clark

    OK – full disclosure. I am the Operations Chair of the Manassas GOP; Russ Harrison is a good friend of mine and serves with me (with distinction) on the Manassas City Planning Commission.

    For those of you who don’t know, Allen Muchnick is Co-Chair of the Manassas Democrats. He’s required to defend their candidates, even when it is very hard, as it is with Patricia Richie-Folks.

    The fact of the matter is that standards have slipped badly in the Treasurer’s office. To cite just one example, it was Patricia’s job to issue tax refunds to a few hundred business in town that were over charged on their taxes. By May 13th, she had all the information she needed to get the checks out. This was a four-day job, five at the most.

    Patricia didn’t get the checks out in May. Or June. Or July. Or August. It wasn’t until businesses started to complain to the City Council in September that she got around to issuing the checks … four months late.

    Patricia did find time to blame everyone she could think of for her not doing her job. She blamed the City Manger. She blamed the Commissioner of the Revenue. She even blamed her staff. What she didn’t do was her job.

    I know Allen is just doing his job for the Democrats, but Patricia is in way over her head. We need a professional as our Treasurer. Russ Harrison is. Patricia Richie-Folks is not.

    • Patricia Richie-Jokes

      Refunds? Ain’t nobody got time for that!