Albemarle Supervisor candidates on city/county/UVa cooperation
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, THIRD IN A SERIES
Ken Boyd (R) – Incumbent
The county, the city and the university have a long history of collaborative discussions and actions. We have a very different scenario from many regional communities in the commonwealth where the cities and counties don’t even try to work together. These efforts, in such a diverse community, will inevitably lead to differences of opinion, but we deserve kudos for continuing the discussion.
I represented the board for several years on the county, city and UVA joint [Planning and Coordination Council] (PACC) committee and I have participated in countless discussions with both the city and the university. These efforts have led to many collaborative ventures, including [the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center] (CATEC), and the Ivy Creek School, courts and jail authority, mass transportation, water, sewer, and solid waste, recycling, and may other joint ventures. I expect we will continue to move in the same direction.
Cynthia Neff (D) – Challenger
Again, this is like an absolute great question. It’s one that really resonates me … I don’t need a passport to come into the city. We’re one place. You know, I don’t understand these artificial constructs we’ve put up between us because they are inhibiting our progress. And the same thing with UVA.
… UVA is often an afterthought. … [There are] millions and millions of dollars of procurement that the University of Virginia does and of course they go out to low bidders, but you know there’s a great opportunity for us to all sit down together with them and say, “Well, you know, let’s see what we could provide locally.” … maybe the city and the county we could work together in true economic development form and try to figure out how to give these our companies a chance to have like a little tax break or something so that they can compete and start to grow that business … the county can’t do that alone.
… It’s the same thing with when I’ve talked to so many parents and so many teachers of late and I often say I say, “What do you think about the city and the county when in terms of education? … because one of the things I really worry about is when I see the city looking at shutting down a school and the county at looking at adding one it makes me want to go bonkers because that just shouldn’t happen.” You know, we have an opportunity when you talk about expense management it’s not enough to make incremental cuts. We have to look at fundamentally different ways of doing things. …
I think that the relationship between the city and the county is as bad as I’ve ever seen two organizations. There is kind of mutual disrespect and kind of an agreement to, you know, keep at their paces and I just think it’s harming us … You know, again the three functions, the city, the county and university, we have a great story to tell why people should come and visit. It’s because of Mr. Jefferson’s university; it’s because of the Downtown Mall and all the stuff that’s there, and it’s because the county is drop-dead gorgeous and has farms and wineries and this bucolic hillside. Together we have a powerful message, but it’s not going to work if it’s not together.
Chris Dumler (D) – Open Seat
I think that the first thing that the City, the County and University can do is find out what areas of commonality need to be worked on, which problems are regional problems and which problems are jurisdictional-specific problems. Two great examples of regional problems are obviously transportation infrastructure mobility and economic vitality which you just mentioned.
I think the work that [the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission] (TJPDC) is doing with this Livable Communities grant is a great example of incorporating on a regional level … It’s reflective of the true commuter patterns of people that don’t stop at the Albemarle County border, the City of Charlottesville border, and so I think that’s one great example of where we can cooperate more.
Economic vitality, of course, sort of ties into that If you don’t have a community where you can move your goods around, where you can move your workers around, businesses aren’t going to come here. … [Also,] there are a lot of unleveraged opportunities, particularly with the University of Virginia where we need to partner more fully with them.
A great example that I’ve given a number of times is procurement offers. UVA spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on procurement and that money, the expenditure of that money, is obviously subject to state bidding rules, federal bidding rules, because a lot of that money is state and federal money but it is money that’s coming into the community and that can be spent in the community. [We need to] use local government, city government and county government to sort of grease those skids and help that money get circulating in the community … As I understand it, two of the biggest issues, one of them is the complexity of the bidding rules and I think that the County can play a role there in stepping up sort of facilitating that …
And, second, identifying those needs and then maybe in the instances where local small businesses can’t be the lowest bidder, offering tax incentives [or] whatever it is, that will enable small businesses, local businesses, to come in as the lowest bidder which, of course, is a requirement of most federal bidding and state bidding rules, to enable us to keep those procurement dollars that are coming in from NOVA tuition money or state grants or federal grants here in the community creating jobs.
Jim Norwood (R) – Open Seat
Well I think this question is very difficult insomuch as we have three different entities that have three different objectives and ideally it’d be great to get all three on the same page. You have to – we have to look at the University is the number one economic driver in the county or in the whole region and we really need to work with the University to be sure that we provide the infrastructure for the University as well as its employees and students. And I think that’s where the county and city play an important role in doing that.
The economic vitality is very important. Right now the University spends about a billion dollars in commerce in this area. We have a total expenditures of commerce of about $8.8 billion in this region a year. The University is 1 billion of that. So they are, you know, without question the major economic driver here. We need to find synergies and ways that we can work together to benefit both the city and the county. I’ve got some ideas that relative to economic stimulus that I think is important. I don’t think we pay enough attention to economic development and I think the county and the city need to address it in a more focused way than it is being done today.
White Hall District
Ann Mallek (D) – Incumbent
I have been a supporter with the city on many projects and I know that our area is known throughout the state for our projects such as fire and rescue, solid waste, water and sewer, libraries and the [Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center] (CATEC). Most citizens think of us as one community and some wonder why we have two governments. I do not support any new initiatives until our water and solid waste issues are resolved.
In 2010 … Delegate Toscano challenged local governments to study issues on which we might increase the level of cooperation. I participated on the fire and rescue committee. … We determined that there was no financial or operational advantage to both jurisdictions to combine efforts at this time, but we do support the continued working together to have a functional unified system.
One large success in cooperation has been the planning and coordination council, or PACC. The PACC meets quarterly with representatives of the city, county and university and discusses a wide range of topics as decided by the group. … PACC has contributed to the strengthening of bonds of the three members and improving the planning efforts of the overall community.
One success story of the PACC is the recently adopted final report of the LCAPP, or Local Climate Action Planning Process. This 18 month long planning investigation focused on ways in which our communities can reduce our carbon footprint and increase our energy efficiency. It was supported by a steering committee of local business, university and local government participants and a working group of over 50 experts in a wide range of fields. … The report was presented to PACC, the city council, and the Board of Supervisors and was accepted by each. Staff at each – all of the entities will now develop ways to implement the recommendations …
I eagerly await the final resolution of the outstanding water supply decisions. The implementation of the water supply plan will be another success in inter-jurisdictional cooperation.
Regarding the community’s unique character and economic vitality, we have a far better chance of success at achieving those goals if we work together, because we weaken ourselves as a community if the jurisdictions are competing with each other for business projects and losing the sight of the long range goal of working together.
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