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November 04, 2011

Albemarle Supervisor candidates on their top priority

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In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, LAST IN A SERIES

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.comWhat is the top priority in your personal strategic plan for action by the board of supervisors if you are elected?


 

Rivanna District

Ken Boyd (R) - Incumbent

I’ve been on the board of supervisors since the early stages of a formal strategic planning process and I continue to support this effort as a high priority.

The plan is built around the values of integrity, innovation, stewardship, and learning.  There are five specific goals which are measured outcomes in the two-budget cycle plan.  They are future capital needs, communication between general government and the school system, our economic vitality action plan, future library structuring, and solid waste disposal.  Now I was part of crafting this strategic plan and it was a unanimous vote to support it, so I am supporting it. 

This year in our strategic plan work session, I proposed that we challenge staff with coming up with suggestions about how we might encourage a return to a culture of individual responsibility and self-reliance.  That’s what my priority item would be at this point.

 

Cynthia Neff (D) - Challenger

If I was elected in November, the first thing I’d like to do in January is have a public hearing on the bypass.  I am disappointed.  You know, we can debate – which we won’t do – the merits of the bypass or the lack of merits of the bypass or whether we should have one or whether it won’t ever work, but we should have an opportunity to see the VDOT study and the environmental assessment.…

The second thing I think I would do is really is to focus on the Comprehensive Plan and make sure that that process is going to give us an accurate reflection of where we’re at now….Maybe we’ll decide we need to put more land into the growth area because we need more land to…  Maybe we’ll decide – my own personal bias coming out here – maybe we’ll decide that we should really focus on redevelopment and taking Shopper’s World and Albemarle Square and saying, “Let’s keep that core of our business district healthy and vital before we move out even further.”  So but I think we can’t do that unless we have a really clear picture today of where we’re at.…

And then the last thing I’d really like – I have talked to so many teachers and so many parents.  I would really to get, you know, with the school board I would really like to hear from these folks…. I know in the Rivanna district I would love to invite parents and teachers in to talk about again, what are we doing right, what aren’t we?  I mean I’ve heard so many stories about the new schedules and the extra classes that they’re teaching and, you know, that just things aren’t kind of running on really smooth wheels and I think teachers and parents need a voice… [B]efore we go too far down the road with the budgeting cycle I think it would be healthy for us all to kind of take an assessment…

 

Scottsville District

Chris Dumler (D) - Open Seat

It all comes down to the Comprehensive Plan and the Comprehensive Plan is something we’re required to review every five years, but it really is what we make of it and I think there are so many people here in Albemarle County who appreciate the importance of sitting down and having a conversation about where we want to be in five years, where we want to be in 10 years, where we want to be in 20 and 50 years…

The things I’m hearing about the most as I go out and knock on doors—infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure and we need to be planning for transportation infrastructure.  If we want to grow, we need to decide where we want that growth to go and we need to plan for, like I said, the infrastructure, but beyond that, schools, firehouses, police stations, and these need to be part of the plan.

And I think that it’s important, like I said, to have a conversation.  If you open this up, it’s borne out of public debate and it needs to be followed through with, and if you have a thousand people show up and 950 people want something, that’s something that should go on the plan. 

And sort of an overarching theme, I think it’s about responsiveness, it’s about implementing, developing and then following through and executing that plan and not just doing spot rezoning willy-nilly when someone comes in with a lot of money or hires a expensive attorney to come in and make it.  Sometimes, like I said, there’re always exceptions to every rule but I think it’s very important from a strategy point of view to have that document and that document is relied on by everyone, from business leaders who are looking to relocate to people who want to move to an area and want to know that their backyard is going to be—  A development won’t pop up in it overnight.  If they live in the rural area, they want to know my backyard’s going to be rural in 5, 10 years, 15, 20 years as I’m growing old, so I think it’s very important that we focus on that. 

 

Jim Norwood (R) - Open Seat

To address the need for jobs and economic stimulus in the county.  I think even though the percentage numbers of unemployed do not reflect a problem for Albemarle County, the southern part of the county, as in Scottsville, the unemployment rate is a lot higher than it is in the northern part of the county.  We are not growing, we’re static and we need to find a way to expand the economic development, including jobs.  And that would be a focus of my tenure on the board.  And I think that it can be done with a strong focus on the needs of our citizens – what they need here – and also look at the education base to be sure we’re providing jobs for people that have that education. 

So I think economic stimulus right now is very important.  The other – one of the other issues I think has to be addressed is how we find a way to stimulate the real estate business.  Again, we’re in a static situation of – real estate values are decreasing and real estate is a big driver for the economy.  And right now we really need to find ways to help stimulate that.

 

White Hall District

Ann Mallek (D) - Incumbent

On the strategic plan, planning ahead is critically important for local government.  I applaud the work begun approximately eight years ago under the leadership of Tom Foley who is now our County Executive.  The reason to plan is to analyze the best time to make investments in capital projects based on need and the ability to pay.  Using the five year planning horizon allows the county to anticipate costs and even out expenses over several years.  When planning to build a facility, spreading the cost over these several years makes less impact on the annual budget than borrowing the total all at once. 

As our county financial advisers have suggested, there is extra borrowing capacity within our budget and our current tax rate.  We should take this opportunity to construct the Crozet library now, while we can take advantage of the remaining bid of reduced project costs and the extremely low borrowing costs at half of the rate of several years ago.  Before making this decision, we must be assured that our revenue values are within the anticipated range.  The only good reason to postpone would be to prevent the county to entering debt it could not pay back. 

As financial stability returns, I support restoring the appropriate portion of tourism money to the ACE program to resume purchasing conservation easements from willing landowners… As the economy begins to pick up speed, the county staff must grow to provide prompt and careful oversight of development projects – to maintain the valued high performance of projects here in Albemarle.  Looking forward to plan for these staff increases will be important in the next budget year…

Investments to comply with the Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts will take larger chunks of staff time and money.  Storm water regulations recently adopted will also require capital improvements to our systems.  The results of these efforts will benefit local residents, however, and also the Chesapeake Bay, as improvements of our impaired waterways and reductions in erosion and sedimentation will increase the recreational and ecological health of our rivers and streams.

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