A self-proclaimed “country boy” has launched his campaign to represent the Scottsville Magisterial District on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.
“I think there have been many issues left unattended far too long in the Scottsville District, and I want folks there to know I hear [them] loud and clear,” said Earl Smith at his official campaign announcement Tuesday.
Smith will face Democrat Richard Randolph in the Nov. 3 general election. Randolph is currently a member of the county’s Planning Commission.
Smith, 51, was born in Charlottesville but moved to the Scottsville District after his parents bought a farm in southern Albemarle. The Republican candidate has been involved with many restaurant ventures in the community and is currently a district manager for Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard.
About 20 supporters were on hand at Cale Elementary School, including former Supervisor Forrest Marshall.
“He’s just a natural country boy, and there’s not too many of us left,” Marshall said.
Smith was an active voice in the 2013 campaign to remove former Supervisor Christopher J. Dumler from office following his guilty plea to a sexual offense. Many people asked Smith to run for the seat that became open when Dumler resigned.
Democrat Jane Dittmar in November 2013 won a special election to serve the remainder of Dumler’s term. She announced in April she would not seek re-election.
Smith said he now sees a responsibility to run for office.
“Today, we waste time arguing with each other over unimportant details and have forgotten to look at what we are trying to accomplish,” Smith said. “We spend too much time pointing out our differences instead of finding solutions, creating and investing in new ideas or simply being held accountable for what we do or say.”
Earlier this year, supervisors increased the real estate property tax rate by 2 cents to 81.9 cents per $100 of assessed property value. In 2012, the rate was 76.2 cents. Smith said the increases are too much.
“Retired citizens on fixed incomes are considering for the first time in their lives selling their homes or farm because of increasing tax rates and assessments which seem to go unchecked by our current board,” Smith said. “They fear as I do that their taxes will keep growing even higher in the next few years.”
Smith pointed to a lack of broadband Internet south of Interstate 64 as evidence the county has neglected the needs of the Scottsville District residents.
“They’re told by the school system it’s required their child or grandchild get their class assignment online with a thing called Blackboard,” Smith said. “Yet they don’t have access to broadband. It takes them five times as long to get their lessons.”
Smith said he welcomes the shopping options that will come in 2016 when Fifth Street Station opens in the district, but said development should have occurred earlier to give people in the southern half of the county more options.
“What about the 80,000 or so people that live on this side of town all the way to Buckingham County, Fluvanna and in this part of Charlottesville that don’t want to drive all the way up to U.S. 29 North?” asked Smith.
He said the county is losing sales tax revenue to Zion Crossroads, which is more convenient for southern residents even if it is farther away.
One of Smith’s political mentors is the late S.J. Boatright, a Scottsville man who died in 2013. Smith invited Boatright’s daughter to attend his campaign launch.
“My father lived in the Scottsville District, and Earl went to him with political concerns and my father would help guide him,” Laura Pullaro said.
“I’ve known Earl since grade school and he rode the bus when I was a kid, and he is just an amazing person,” she added. “He is what he says he is. He’s somebody you can count on to no end.”
Smith joins Richard Lloyd as one of two Republicans seeking election to the Board of Supervisors. Lloyd is running in the Rivanna District against Democrat Normal Dill and independent candidate Lawrence Gaughan.
“We think Earl is a great addition to our slate of candidates,” said Steve Janes, vice chairman of the Albemarle Republican Committee. “He’s a local guy, grew up here and is very successful in a number of businesses that he’s attended to.”