WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 Wednesday night to adopt a resolution asking the General Assembly to limit the governor’s ability to impose mandates.

Back Creek Supervisor Shawn Graber introduced the resolution. Recent state mandates include requiring state employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or get tested every week and requiring those who enter school buildings to wear face masks amid the pandemic. As of Sept. 23, the virus had killed 12,463 Virginians.

Graber, Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. and supervisors Blaine Dunn, J. Douglas McCarthy, Judith McCann-Slaughter and David Stegmaier voted in favor of the resolution. Supervisor Bob Wells voted against it.

Graber said the resolution was not about whether he agrees with the vaccine or thinks it’s effective, but rather about standing up for “the individual rights of people to make medical decisions for themselves and for their family.”

The resolution calls upon the General Assembly “to amend relevant statutes dealing with mandating medical treatment by establishing a clear and limiting delegation of authority to those in the executive branch and in local government offices to impose mandates.”

Stegmaier said local governments have conceded too much authority to state and federal governments over the years, especially during the pandemic, and it’s time to “reassert our constitutional rights.”

He said Gov. Ralph Northam’s school mask mandate neutralized the Frederick County School Board’s decision not to require masks. He said this was “a perfect example of how reluctant the state government is to give local government any authority at all, when it may run contrary to what the governor and the state agencies want.”

Wells said he wanted to represent all of Frederick County, not just one segment, and encouraged upset individuals to contact their state representatives as it is a legislative issue.

About 30 area residents and small-business owners attended the meeting to support the resolution — either through comments they made or by clapping. Most of them wore red shirts. They believe these mandates infringe on their freedoms.

“We have rights to our own bodies,” said Stephens City resident Debra Crowley. “What’s that saying going around? ‘My body, my choice?’ It should stand for anything. We shouldn’t be forced to do things to our body we don’t want done.”

Back Creek resident Clay Perry said the mandates are preventing the “right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Josh Phelps of Winchester Metals spoke in favor of the resolution as a representative of the Small Business Freedom Alliance, a coalition with more than 600 members in the Northern Shenandoah Valley that believes their constitutional rights are being violated.

The SBFA was formed in response to state government-mandated shutdowns in 2020 in the early days of the pandemic.

“We’ll do everything we can as a group to make sure that the people that are elected to those positions support the constitutional rights and support this resolution,” Phelps said. “For those that don’t support this resolution, our group will be your biggest opponent over the next few weeks.”

Shawnee District resident and School Board candidate Eric Reifinger was one of two residents who opposed the resolution. He said Northam has consulted with medical experts and there are already checks and balances in place to limit the governor’s powers. He added that the FDA has given the Pfizer vaccine approval.

“We’ve had plenty of tests to show how safe and effective these vaccines are,” Reifinger said. “So when it comes to the mask regulations, when it comes to vaccine requirements, the governor already has to work with multiple individuals and multiple committees when it comes to passing executive orders to ensure the safety and well-being of all Virginians.”

Opequon District resident Bryan Nuri compared vaccine mandates to the state requiring people to wear seat belts for safety. He said vaccine mandates have a historical precedent and vaccines were responsible for making polio disappear in America.

“Please everyone, please do what’s best for your community and not your ego,” Nuri said.

— Contact Josh Janney at

(14) comments

Ray Hicks

Ms. Crowley seems to have borrowed a motto from the Pro Choice people, although I'm taking bets that she isn't one of them. What she and the pompous Mr. Graber are proposing is simply that they want the freedom to inflict harm on others. All you need do is look at the relatively low vaccination rates and cavalier behavior in the area to understand why the death rate is spiking. Remember, children under 12 cannot get vaccinated and now 25% of the cases are kids! Unbelievable.

Doc Samson

Translation: COVID = Polio. Except... Covid is little more than a moderate illness to kids and 90% of adults. But hey, don't let that "science" stop your panic and hyperbole! [thumbup][rolleyes]


“We have rights to our own bodies,” said Stephens City resident Debra Crowley. “What’s that saying going around? ‘My body, my choice?’ YES pro-choice lady


The short of it is the BOS is an embarrassment. The long of it is the BOS is an embarrassment. The reality is that they are perhaps not astute enough to realize it and are so into themselves and their "cause" that they perhaps do not even care.

john brown

Someone read this Star article to the Frederick County bos:

"COVID patients push region’s hospitals to limit"

It's in today's paper. Are they really this stupid.


Thank you, Eric Reifinger! You are the voice of reason among a group of grown men who are an embarrassment and insult the intelligence of the people they are elected to serve-

john brown

Do they really insult the "intelligence" of their constituency? Do they really? LOL


oh gosh they really do!


The Frederick County Board of Supervisors, especially Graber, Dunn, McCarthy and Stegmeir are wasting time playing political games and passing resolutions that are unenforceable in the least. They may not like them, but mandates for the welfare of all Virginians, are legal, enforceable and not against the constitution in any way. I am especially disappointed in Doug McCarthy. As a practicing attorney, he should know better.

john brown

The bos continues to practice their Free Dumb

Jim McCarthy

True freedom would be eliminating all authority of elected officials including that of this BOS. Surely, they feel better among themselves for their courageous stand.

Catherine Giovannoni

The Frederick County Board of Supervisors is at it again: wasting our time and tax dollars on issues way outside of their remit. Passing useless Fox-inspired "resolutions" to rile up their base does nothing to improve life in Frederick County.


This Frederick BOS effort sounds like trumpian twaddle. Over 650,000 Americans have died because a segment of low-information folks don't not want to do what they are told. They seem to lack the decency to exercise basic civic responsibilities. This effort is yet another waste of taxpayer dollars to has nothing to do with good governance or the common good. The BOS should be recalled. The BOS is an example of why the Governor must use mandates to protect the people when local politicians lack the intelligence and integrity to do what is right.


We are all members of a society - composed of others. We do not live alone and isolated from others. WE are social creatures, evolved to live alongside others. We create governments and shared rules to live in peace with others. We are tribal. Public health, public safety, shared by us all reduces our individual freedoms. It is for the common good. All are better off even if some individuals must comply or not have the freedom to do WHATEVER they want! It is false to think we each have unlimited, personal freedoms. Our health, our very survival is a shared responsibility. Our freedoms are increased when we are all safe and healthy. Cooperation is a requirement of society.

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