I believe in open dialog. Further, I believe in doing what I can to offer my position on local issues and then keeping my word when elected. Following are some of my positions on key local issues. If you’d like more information on any issue outlined below, or if there are any other local issues that you’d like me to address, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I won’t muddy the issue, and I’ll give you a straight answer if I have enough information to do so.
My positions on the issues:
Taxes – Rates are too high, especially on real estate and personal property. We must streamline local government, and we must look for alternative sources of revenue. We need to be very clear that our search for alternative sources will directly offset real estate and personal property taxes. Our goal is to minimize the overall level of taxes and to tax in the fairest way possible.
Growth – We need a healthy economy, because a good economy leads to local opportunity and local jobs. We do not need additional monotonous Northern-Virginia type housing developments. Culpeper has a lot of hard-working, creative people, and local government ought to stay out of their way as much as possible so that they can create the businesses of the future that will drive our economy.
Big Power lines. Overhead power lines are ugly. One of Culpeper’s major assets is its beauty, and we need to safeguard our scenic vistas throughout the county. When calculating the costs associated with new overhead lines, we need to consider all impacts, especially the impact to property valuations of non-adjoining parcels and potential impacts to tourism. When all impacts are considered, I believe that underground lines may not compare as unfavorably as some would like us to believe.
Conservation. Culpeper is blessed by an abundance of protected lands in almost every direction. Shenandoah National Park is to our West, and our county neighbors in almost every direction are setting increasingly stringent subdivision standards along the Culpeper County border. Culpeper County needs to advocate and support conservation efforts, but we should not further restrict property rights.
Agricultural and Land Use. Culpeper needs to respect and honor its agricultural heritage while accurately acknowledging current and future land use. Most Culpeper County property is valued at many times its agricultural value. Agriculture benefits us in many ways other than its direct economic impact. A major indirect impact is the preservation of open spaces and scenic vistas that are so vital to our growing tourism industry. Culpeper’s current policy of time-based subdivision with minimum 3-5 acre lots on most state roads is leading to agricultural land along our roads diminishing at an alarming rate. We need a plan that does not further infringe on property rights or harm property values, but does reduce the pace at which agricultural land is being converted to residential uses.
Land use taxation. Land use taxation should be expanded to include open space in addition to agricultural uses. Many of our senior citizens are having to reduce their agricultural activities, in some cases to levels that do not allow them to technically qualify for land use. Rather than having to sell or rent to someone they do not want on their property, these landowners should be allowed to stay in land use under an “open space” provision. Current state law allows for such a provision.
Schools. The Culpeper County School Board oversees the county’s schools, and this elected body should be entrusted with carrying out its mission. Good schools are vital to our community, and we must find a way to appropriately compensate and retain our best teachers. The Board of Supervisors oversees the County budget, including local allocations to the School budget. Approximately 50% of local tax dollars go to schools, and the Board of Supervisors should work closely with the school board to ensure that the money is spent as efficiently as possible.
Transportation. The county should work to ensure that all state roads within the county should be hard-surfaced as soon as possible. Some of these roads are tertiary roads; however, traffic levels on even the least traveled of our tertiary roads and resident benefits from lower air pollution and lower levels of sediment runoff are compelling reasons to increase the priority of sealing state roads. Identified priorities such as an interchange at 29/666 and the outer loop are also extremely important. Culpeper Town is the center of the county economy, and efficient ingress and egress is vital to the success of town businesses and to the convenience of residents and visitors alike.
Town/County interaction. Obviously, town/county interaction needs to improve. I am running with an open mind, and I believe I have a positive relationship with all town officials that I have had the opportunity to get to know, including the Mayor and several members of the town council. Sometimes, a change in personnel can foment better working relationships.
Town/County consolidation. Signatures will be received and certified, and the town and the county will be required to begin the process of looking at consolidation, however fearful the idea may seem to some. The potential benefits of consolidation are common planning, less bickering, and more efficient government. Consolidation should not cause county taxpayers to fund town services, it should not lead to permissive zoning for more commuter residential subdivisions, and it should not lead to a cut in service levels to town residents and landowners. The devil is in the details, and it’s much too early to determine whether an acceptable plan for consolidation can be reached.
August 12, 2007
Candidate for Culpeper County Board of Supervisors