The three candidates running for Albemarle County’s Rivanna District expressed their views on education, infrastructure and growth area adjustment Thursday at a campaign forum sponsored by Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress.
The winner will succeed Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd, a Republican who has held the seat since 2004.
“I think I can represent Rivanna and the county in a way you want to be represented,” Dill said. “I don’t think of myself as a politician, but I’m willing to play this role.”
“I am not a perfect candidate, but there is no candidate who has more of an interest in leaving Albemarle a better place, or at least maintain our quality of life,” Gaughan said. “I had the guts to step away from both parties and run as an independent.”
“The No. 1 thing people want is to get rid of our [county’s] deficit,” Lloyd said, referring to a projected five-year shortfall of $31.9 million unveiled to the Board of Supervisors this week.
About 20 people attended the event, which was held at CATEC.
The candidates were first asked if supervisors should make adjustments to the county’s growth area boundaries to add more land for industrial purposes.
“In a general sense, we somehow need to increase our tax base on the business side of things,” Dill said, adding he would like to see more industrial jobs and fewer new retail jobs.
“At some point, the growth areas will have to expand, but we have to … [be] exceedingly careful,” Dill said.
Gaughan began his response with one word – No.
“We should not modify the Comprehensive Plan to allow for growth in rural areas,” he said, adding that he is running in part to try to control growth.
“Growth doesn’t pay for itself,” he said.
Lloyd said he would expand the growth area to help raise more tax revenue for the county, as long as the environment also is protected.
“Do we want to raise taxes?” Lloyd said. “Do we want to go into debt? Or do we want to expand the growth areas?”
The alternative, he said is to cut services.
Candidates also were asked what their education priorities would be.
Gaughan said he has a unique perspective because he is the only candidate to have graduated from the Albemarle school system.
“We don’t reward our teachers for their hard work and education,” Gaughan said. “We need cuts not just in terms of discretionary spending but we need to cut fixed spending as well. Then the money will be there to pay for the things that are important to our future.”
“Education is a magical enabler,” Lloyd said. “The magic happens in the classroom. … Yes, we need administration, but administration doesn’t make the magic happen.”
Dill said his highest priority is early childhood education.
“I think it’s more complicated than just saying that,” Dill said. “We need the facilities to do it.”
Dill said he would like pre-K classes to be held within existing schools to get children used to a public education. He added he would help lobby the General Assembly restore funding to education.
The three men also were asked how they would ensure the county has enough funding to pay for sidewalks, schools, police and other services provided by local government.
Lloyd said he wants the community to invest in buildings that can last for generations, but said there are many options to pay for them.
“How do we pay for them? Out of current revenues? Floating bonds?” Lloyd said. “In the past, we had benefactors who donated such as Paul Goodloe McIntire. We don’t have anyone stepping up with that kind of commitment anymore.”
Lloyd said he could support floating more bonds if the projects could be guaranteed to last for many years.
Dill agreed with Lloyd on that point. He also said he felt developers should pay for some of the costs of new infrastructure through proffers.
“If a developer is putting in housing that they’re making a huge profit on, and using the services of the county such as roads, they should pay,” Dill said.
Gaughan would take a minimalist approach.
“I’m not for building much in the county,” he said. “Over the years, Democrats and Republicans have been in bed with big business.”
However, he said he would like to revive the Western Bypass of U.S. 29, perhaps through a public-private partnership.
Among other questions asked were about how Albemarle should pay for mandates to improve water quality in local streams, what their position is on climate change and how to increase public participation at the local level.
Closer to Election Day, Charlottesville Tomorrow plans mail a voter guide to registered voters featuring more in-depth views from all three candidates.
The next candidate forum sponsored by Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Progress will be for the five City Council candidates. It is set to be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Jackson P. Burley Middle School.
Moderator Question #1
00:15:15 — DESIGNATED GROWTH AREAS: Should the board make boundary adjustments for Albemarle County’s designated growth areas to create new locations for business on land that today is in the rural area? Why or why not?
Moderator Question #2
00:22:13 — EDUCATION PRIORITIES: What will your priorities be for public education and how will you work with the school board to provide lifelong learning opportunities for all of our citizens?
Moderator Question #3
00:29:23 — INVESTMENTS IN COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE: How do we ensure that community infrastructure—roads, sidewalks, fire/rescue facilities, schools, etc.—is in place to support a growing population? To what degree should this infrastructure be funded by the real estate property tax, developer proffers, a bond referendum or new service districts?
Moderator Question #4
00:37:27 — QUALIFICATIONS: Please describe your past experience that qualifies you to be on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.
Moderator Question #5
00:45:27 — STORMWATER UTILITY FEE: How should Albemarle County fund water resource programs to clean up local streams and comply with state mandates for protection of the Chesapeake Bay watershed? [And a follow-up] Would you support creation of a stormwater utility fee, similar to the one enacted by the City of Charlottesville, which is based on the amount of impervious surface on a property? Why or why not?
Audience Question #1
00:53:30 — How would you propose we increase voter involvement and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors?
Audience Question #2
1:00:22 — What should be the responsibility of the County of Albemarle to counteract negative climate change?
Audience Question #3
1:07:03 — How do you propose to support Albemarle County Public School teachers and understand what the issues are they are being faced with in our classrooms? An example, what would you do to support a kindergarten teacher with 25 students in the classroom?
Audience Question #4
1:13:55 — What is your position on Internet accessibility and the do you feel there is a role for local government to help ensure that all citizens have equal access?
Audience Question #5
1:20:48 — How do you see the Board of Supervisors furthering the collaborative efforts of the business community that is seeking to grow the Charlottesville area as a recognized technology hub in Virginia?
Audience Question #6
1:28:23 — How do see your role representing the people of Albemarle County? Do you represent only those in your district or the entire county?