In Virginia, Boards of Supervisors govern counties and its members are elected to four-year terms. Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors has six members, one for each district. Incumbent Board member Bea LaPisto-Kirtley, who has held the Rivanna District seat for a single term, is being challenged by T.J. Fadeley.
Charlottesville Tomorrow designed a questionnaire based on more than 200 responses we received to a voter survey. The answers are listed in the order they were received.
Albemarle County saw a roughly 20% increase in assessed property values in two years — 13% in 2023 and 8% in 2022. What is your position on the county’s tax rates and how would you spend any increased revenue?
T.J. Fadeley: Apartments and multifamily dwellings experienced a 28% increase in assessments this year. And, with each year that assessments increase, housing affordability becomes unrealistic for working families. Albemarle County has squeezed out many who work in the service industry — our first responders, teachers and others who serve our community — but live elsewhere. This isn’t right.
With any increased revenue in this year’s budget, one option would be to provide taxpayer rebates, much like the Commonwealth is doing with its surplus. Surplus or fund balance monies belong to resident taxpayers, and they should be “first in line” when these monies are distributed.
Bea LaPisto-Kirtley: The county’s tax rate hasn’t changed in five years but assessments have risen in accordance with state code that assessments be at fair market value. Last year the county did lower the personal property tax rate and did not raise it for this fiscal year. I believe increased revenue should go toward making sure that new schools are built to relieve the overcrowding along with needed renovations for existing schools – and making sure we have a quality education for all our students. Another need would be to address transportation/traffic concerns throughout the county. I consider making sure we have connectivity (fiber and cell) in our county a health and safety issue.
Voters have asked about broadband internet access and speeds in Albemarle County. Can the Board of Supervisors do anything to help?
Fadeley: I applaud Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger’s successful effort to bring more than $1.4 billion in federal funding for Virginia broadband internet projects. This will make reliable 5G online access for those who have been caught in the digital divide. Fortunately, Albemarle County already has a broadband plan in play through a consortium of utility providers. I believe current height requirements for cell towers serve as an impediment to expanding wireless internet access, especially in the rural areas. We must reexamine those requirements and make adjustments, where needed, so reliable broadband service can be enjoyed by all county residents.
LaPisto-Kirtley: The Board of Supervisors assisted the private regional providers by providing funding to assist in getting Virginia Telecommunication Initiative grants from the state. As we were successful, the grants will provide broadband service to all of Albemarle County by the end of 2025. Since we are a county representing 726 square miles of rural and urban development, this is not a small undertaking. At the county, we have a broadband office to assist residents as the private providers install fiber to all our homes.
A county report showed climate change will have devastating effects on agriculture and flooding in the coming decades. What would you as a supervisor do to prepare?
Fadeley: Let’s agree that our focus must be on our land use policies. We must continue identifying ways to mitigate increasing temperatures in hot zones, especially in growth corridors. “Shared growth” should be implemented to relieve areas, like the Rivanna District, which has experienced much of the residential and commercial growth and led to increased stormwater runoff.
Virginia Tech recently received an $80 million grant from the federal government for a pilot program designed to encourage best farming practices to curb greenhouse gasses. I support financial incentives that will motivate adoption of these practices for farming’s long term sustainability and increased productivity.
LaPisto-Kirtley: The county has taken some good steps on climate planning but absolutely needs to focus on strategies to reduce and/or offset carbon emissions, but also on resilience planning in the face of climate change. The county could accelerate its resilience planning, especially in view of the changes we know we will experience with increased flooding, heat, pressure on our local water supply, and other environmental and human impacts. We used to think parks and green spaces were luxury items but now we understand they are vital for human health and well-being. Green space helps to reduce the temperature within heat islands, which is why we are increasing our parks. Providing workforce affordable housing for our fire, police and first responders, so they can live in the community when there is a disaster is also being proactive.
Gun violence is rising in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. What do you believe local government can do to address this public health crisis?
Fadeley: The best avenue by which local governments can address gun violence is through a multitude of existing, and perhaps newly envisioned community outreach programs, working in concert with mental health professionals, law enforcement, schools, non-profit organizations, and others. We need public education programs that discuss gun safety, how to engage mental health services and public service announcements — much like anti-drunk driving campaigns — that portray real life victim impacts. Additionally, I support programs that foster better community relations with the Albemarle County Police Department, and would encourage creative thinking on how to connect digitally with our at-risk youth.
LaPisto-Kirtley: The police chiefs from Albemarle, Charlottesville and UVA are having monthly meetings and communicating daily or weekly to address the concerns of rising gun violence. This level of cooperation for our immediate region is a great accomplishment in providing a safe and coordinated response to the violence that is occurring. The prohibition of firearms on county property was instituted a couple years ago but more needs to be done to address gun violence. Unfortunately, we need state and federal action to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not possess them.
Do you support building more solar farms in central Virginia? What would you do to encourage or discourage such projects in Albemarle County?
Fadeley: I suggest that before any new solar farms are approved, we undertake a thorough assessment of the cost benefits and unanticipated consequences learned from each farm. To augment solar farms, I propose creating new county incentives for residential home solar installation. High costs associated with solar installation are an obstacle for most who would like to go solar. The county has a healthy fund balance, and I support using some of this to create financial subsidies to homeowners who would like to go solar. More homes with solar decreases the amount of land used to build environmentally unfriendly solar farms.
LaPisto-Kirtley: Utility-grade solar aligns with our climate action plan. We are new to this and learning as we go – which means that our approach will continue to evolve as we learn.
What are one or two biggest of the challenges you see facing Albemarle County? How would you as a supervisor address them?
Fadeley: The first challenge is to control excessive spending. Our county executive said expenditures will exceed revenues for the next five years. Other than additional, non-voter approved borrowing, where does he expect to make up this revenue shortfall? Perhaps it’s time to consider General Obligation Bonds, which require voter approval through a referendum. Taxpayers would know the costs, and can vote up or down their approval of proposed funding.
Our second challenge is to reduce the size of government. I’m leaning in favor of zero based budgeting, where every position, every program, and every expenditure proposed must be financially justified.
LaPisto-Kirtley: A climate resilient county is one that will be able to deal with the upcoming effects of climate change (flooding, drought, heat, etc.). Preparing for that eventuality will take time and effort and making sure we have community support. The county will be weighing carefully the decisions we make to protect all residents.
Right-sizing our plans for economic stability and growth that will ensure high paying jobs for our future – which includes high performing schools for all of our children.
More links about the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
- LaPisto-Kirtley’s campaign contributions, from the Virginia Public Access Project
- Fadeley’s campaign contributions, from the Virginia Public Access Project
- Story about property assessments rising from Charlottesville Tomorrow
As you get ready to vote, here are some key dates and links from the Virginia Department of Elections:
Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, night. The Virginia Department of Elections will publish election results in real time, as they arrive from precincts around the state. To view them, head to this link. These are unofficial results until they are certified. Here’s more about how to get election results.
- Sept. 22: First day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office.
- Oct. 16: Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration. You can also register after this date, and on election day, but you will vote with a provisional ballot, could take longer for officials to count because they will verify your eligibility.
- Oct. 27: Deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you. Your request must be received by your local registrar by 5:00 p.m.
- Oct. 28: Voter registration offices open for early voting.
- Nov. 4: The last day of in-person early voting at your registrar.
- Nov. 7: Election Day. Here is where you can find your polling place.
Need to know if you’re eligible to vote? Here are resources from the Virginia Department of Elections.