April 22, 2024

Woodstock farmer/businessman Timmy French is one of seven candidates vying for the GOP nod in the June 20 primary. Courtesy photo.

Shenandoah County farmer and businessman Timmy French, a candidate for the four-year Virginia Senate District 1 seat, is well-acquainted with the communities that make up the district.

French spent nearly 15 years as a field salesperson for the Rockingham Co-op, visiting regional farms, helping farmers solve issues with soil management and crop production. The new district, French said in a recent interview with The Shaw Report, “was my whole area.”

The newly redrawn Senate District 1 encompasses Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester. French is one of seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the District 1 seat. Early voting is already underway in the June 20 Republican primary. The winner of the primary will square off against Democrat Emily Scott in the General Election on Nov. 7.

“I’m not a career politician. I’m a farmer,” French said in a recent interview. “I care about the people of this district. I want to be a representative for the whole district.”

In fact, French, 53, was busy repairing a piece of farm equipment with his youngest son, as we talked about his bid for the seat. He is a life-long resident of Woodstock, one of a family of 9 children and a 1987 graduate of Central High School. French and his two brothers, Martin and Billy, own French Brothers Dairy, a multi-generational farm in Woodstock and produce beef, poultry, dairy, and row crop operations. They also farm acreage in Frederick County and offer agronomy spraying/consulting services in the northern Shenandoah Valley.  French &and his family also own and manage several real estate properties in the valley.

French, who has served on local government committees such as the Shenandoah County Agricultural & Forestal District Advisory Committee and the Shenandoah County Farm Bureau knows the importance of preserving the area farmland, calling farming “the economic lifeblood of the Valley and surrounding counties.”

Agribusiness contributes over $82 billion annually to the commonwealth, and provides about 381,000 jobs, French said. As a potential state senator, French stated, “I will speak up for agriculture and ensure that government policies protect the environment and allow farming to prosper. I feel I can give back to my community, the place I was born and raised, and love.”

French said the creation of District 1 made him want to serve the region. “With this new district, I felt it was important to have a representative who cared and loved the area, as opposed to a career politician.” He said running for and holding office was “never something I planned.” But because French “loves the area” he threw his hat into the ring.

French has many friends and supporters, who believe he is the best candidate in a field of seven. In fact, he has more grassroots donors–citizens and small businesses–than other candidates vying for the Republican nomination.

Longtime friend, Matt Shaffer, who runs Shaffer’s BBQ and Market in Middletown, serves as the campaign treasurer. In a phone interview, he said that many supporters appreciate the fact that French is not a career politician, that he is not running for personal gain.

Shaffer marveled that the $160,000 donations French had at the time of the interview, came from 300 small organizations or individual donors. He said that while other candidates might have achieved the $150,000 from a “handful of large donors,” or personally loaned the large amounts of money to their campaign, French did not.

Shaffer said he and French “spent many hours in conversation about the sacrifices involved” in a campaign run and holding office. “Timmy is running because he can accurately and honestly represent the folks in the valley best.”

“I think people can relate to him–he is approachable, has a lot of common sense,” Shaffer said. He continued, “I relate to him on the business side. He has to make payroll every week, he has to feed the animals, he has to work and balance family. He gets it and I think he is going to represent us well because he is doing this for us, not himself.”

Shaffer relayed a conversation he and French had in the months leading up to French’s decision to run. “He told me one time ‘Let’s say I have a neighbor and we have a disagreement. I have to get along with my neighbor, and we’ll meet at the fence row and work it out. We have to find a solution and work together. I view politics the same way.”

Of his friend, Shaffer said, “What I like about Timmy the most is that he is solution oriented. And he wants those solutions to reflect the values of the valley.”

School choice, which would allow parents to make school choices beyond the public-school arena, is a hot-button topic in District 1, as well as much of the nation. French is the lone District 1 candidate who sees public schooling as “the backbones of our community.” He supports home school and private school options but believes that “We can’t leave some of these citizens behind and expect that they are going to get a great education. “

Other issues French will focus on include:

–Helping local police with the ongoing opioid and mental health crises.
–Interstate 81 improvements.
–Streamlined government.
–Protecting Second Amendment rights and opposing “red flag” gun legislation.

Others seeking the Republican nod include Air Force veteran Lance Allen of Frederick County, Frederick County School Board Chairman Brandon Monk, former Strasburg Town Councilman John Massoud, Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors member Bradley Pollack, Christendom College professor James Bergida of Front Royal and 33rd District House of Delegates representative Dave LaRock.

Bentonville farmer/businessman Robert Hupman was also vying for the District 1 seat, until June 6, when he withdrew, and threw his support to French.

To learn more about French, visit timmyfrench.com and his “Timmy French for Senate” Facebook page.

Timmy French encourages everyone to vote in the Republican Primary by either voting early from TODAY until June 17th or voting on Monday, June 20th.

About The Author