Augusta County Board Member Jeff Slaven Accused of Bullying Young Speaker at Supervisor's Meeting
Written by: Sam Orlando
AUGUSTA COUNTY, VA — Tensions flared during a recent Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting when Board member Jeff Slaven was accused of bullying a young public commentator. The meeting, already fraught due to controversies surrounding the board's handling of executive session recordings, saw a heated exchange that culminated in a public rebuke from the child's mother.
Sophie Alberts, the young commentator, approached the podium with a message of disappointment in the board's lack of transparency and their reluctance to adopt body and dash cams for law enforcement. Her comments took aim at the board for what she perceived as their aversion to accountability, suggesting that any reluctance to make records public implied wrongdoing on their part.
However, before Sophie could fully delve into her comments, Slaven interrupted to query her on her address. Slaven's interjection seemed to underline her non-resident status, noting that she came from Barboursville, not Waynesboro as previously thought. The emphasis on her location appeared to some attendees as an attempt to undermine her legitimacy in the discussion, prompting concerns of bullying. Out of nearly a dozen speakers, young Sophie was the only one subjected to such questioning before she was allowed to even speak.
Sophie, undeterred, continued her commentary with poise, arguing for transparency and the importance of recordings to eliminate bias in any narrative. She emphasized the board's duty to serve with integrity, concluding, "As a governing body, you should not be doing things that you should be ashamed of the people knowing about."
Following Sophie's comments, Cherish Alberts, Sophie's mother, took to the podium. Identifying herself as an educator, Cherish accused Slaven of bullying, highlighting the courage it took for her daughter to address the board. "She does work in Augusta County," Cherish noted, defending her daughter's right to comment on county affairs.
Cherish went on to share that she is running unopposed for the Greene County school board. She emphasized the importance of maintaining professionalism and respecting all citizens' input, implying that the Augusta County Board had fallen short of these standards that evening.
The incident brings to light ongoing tensions within Augusta County governance, further exacerbated by allegations and controversies surrounding the board's behavior in closed-door sessions. As the board grapples with these issues, the community awaits clarity and, perhaps, an apology.
This incident serves as a reminder of the essential role of public forums in our democracy and the necessity for governing bodies to treat every participant with respect, regardless of age or residency.