The Greene County Democratic Committee has a new leader—Mark Heinicke was elected chairperson in late April. He was previously the committee’s Swift Run Precinct captain. Heinicke’s public service motto is “lean forward.”

“It means to be progressive, but not be outrageously progressive,” Heinicke said. “We have people who are stretching the boundaries and you may think, well that’d be great, but how are we going to accomplish it? I like to find things we can accomplish and there are things in this county that we can accomplish.”

Heinicke didn’t set out to lead.

“We were having a hard time finding people to step up as chair, so I stepped up,” he said. “I love the people in the committee. I think it’s a good thing in a way—it’s not really my forte to be that public and leading but I’m getting into it and feeling more and more comfortable in that space. And I’m getting a lot of help, too.”

There are three top objectives for Heinicke: supporting education and educators; expanding opportunities; and expanding the base to include more young people—none of which “are an easy fix or a quick fix.”

“A young person in Culpeper founded a young Democrat group. I would love something like that in Greene,” he said.

Heinicke noted education is the biggest part of the county’s budget so that shows it’s important to the people of Greene County.

“While it gets help from the state, there isn’t enough money provided for education,” he said. “The teaching here is above par” and should be supported.

Additionally, bringing broadband to the area is important to Heinicke.

“There are kids whose opportunities are cut because they can’t do their work without the internet,” he said. “It also increases business opportunities.”

Heinicke, a U.S. Army veteran, has lived in Central Virginia for 22 years, with 10 in Greene and 12 in Nelson County.

“I love Greene County. It’s tranquil and the people are quite polite,” he said.

As an avid biker, he said Greene is the “most bicycle-friendly” place he’s ever lived, which is important to him because as a former long-distance runner biking has become his endurance exercise after knee injury sidelined him.

Heinicke is a graduate from Harvard College and served 13 months in Vietnam.

The committee holds two meetings a month—a morning coffee at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at the Stanardsville Town Hall and a potluck meeting at 5 p.m. on the third Sunday of the month at Grace Episcopal Church in Stanardsville.

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