In Virginia, Boards of Supervisors govern counties and each member is elected for four-year terms. Louisa County’s Board of Supervisors has seven members, one for each district. There are three candidates running to represent the Louisa District this year.
Christopher J. “Chris” Colsey, Greg D. Jones, Sr., and H. Manning Woodward, III are the certified candidates seeking the seat, after Eric Purcell announced in March that he would not seek re-election.
Charlottesville Tomorrow designed a questionnaire based on more than 200 responses we received to a voter survey. The candidates answered by email, and their responses are shown in the order they were received.
Louisa County saw a roughly 15% increase in assessed property values in 2022. What is your position on the county’s tax rates and how would you spend any increased revenue?
Christopher J. “Chris” Colsey: It is my position that government, at all levels, should only be providing the necessary services for the community. Additional revenues collected should be returned to the taxpayer and not be used to increase the size of the government. Tax rates should reflect the level to which necessary services are budgeted.
H. Manning Woodward, III: I believe the county should reduce the tax rate. The refund is welcomed, but for people with mortgages it’s a year late and affects their escrow accounts leading to increases in their monthly payments. If property values decline we can revisit the tax rate for adjustment.
Greg D. Jones, Sr.: Louisa County tax rates are the lowest in the area and this is one of the reasons why the county is experiencing abundant growth in our communities. The best use I believe would be: To keep our education system and school system in the top eight in the state and in the top 15% in the country; provide continued support for our local sheriff’s department and law enforcement as the fourth safest county in Virginia in terms of crime; hire and maintain the best first responders and EMS [emergency medical services] personnel to give our citizens the chance of surviving in a health emergency; and because I am pro-business, be sure our infrastructure is prepared to handle whatever is approved by the county.
[Editor’s note: Louisa County Public Schools has ranked eighth in the state in some ranking systems. Here is the state assessment of the district. Rankings for safety also use different methodologies. Here is a Louisa County report on crime trends.]
How do you think the new comprehensive plan and the zoning changes will affect the affordability of Louisa County housing?
Colsey: The Louisa Board of Supervisors recently approved an affordable housing project providing opportunities for seniors and workforce qualified residents. The Board focused its offerings on Louisa residents and those serving the Louisa community. This successful project shows the comprehensive plan is adequate and the Board is focused on community needs.
Woodward: During my time on the Planning Commission (3.5 years), the Fluvanna-Louisa Housing Foundation has appeared several times stating there is a growing need for one- to two-bedroom homes and rentals, but the new construction has and continues to be three-plus bedroom homes and rentals. Which has helped lead us to the shortage of available and affordable housing.
Jones: Not sure how much or that it will change. The comprehensive plan is a direction we want to go. But not necessarily will everything go as planned. With so many variables in the housing industry, there are changes almost on a daily basis. I believe we will follow what the market lends and adjust as things change.
Various government agencies in Central Virginia have reported that climate change will have devastating effects on agriculture and flooding in this region and the coming decades. What would you as a supervisor do to prepare?
Colsey: While the local government has little ability to affect national and global challenges, it can ensure that stormwater, erosion, and runoff features are considered, and applied where necessary, for projects coming before the planning commission.
Woodward: Look at rejoining FEMA’s flood program.
[Editor’s note: Here is a link to the flood program run by the federal government.]
Greg Jones: I do not believe this is a one-answer-question for climate change. This is not a one size fit all situation. We should follow the data that is given and consider the recommendations and make the necessary changes based on the present-day data and what works in this county.
Louisa County does not participate in the FEMA federal flood insurance program. Do you agree or would you work to join the program? Why?
Colsey: It is my inclination to not increase federal regulations for the County and to maintain government oversight at the level closest to the community. It is incumbent upon the planning, zoning, and building processes to implement improvements that mitigate, or avoid, naturally present or human created obstacles to development.
Woodward: I would work to rejoin. The program is more than flood insurance. It is also tied to eligibility to receive some federal grants.
Jones: I am not opposed to joining the program. I believe it would be a good idea to revisit to see what has changed and how we could benefit from the program. Cost would have to be considered and the benefits of the program since that was the reason for opting out. Things change and now may be a good time to become a part once again. The numbers would be a major part and what the citizens want to pay for.
Do you support building more solar farms in central Virginia? What would you do to encourage or discourage such projects in Louisa County?
Colsey: Louisa County currently has 5,800 acres assigned for existing, approved or proposed solar projects which translates to 9 square miles. Louisa has already faced issues with current solar sites and the governor has proposed stricter runoff regulations and initiated an environmental research effort to determine any effects. I have expressed my position that the Board of Supervisors implement a moratorium on solar projects.
Woodward: I have voted for and against solar projects during my 3.5 years on the Planning Commission. Like any projects they must be looked at and ‘approved’ or ‘denied’ based on their own merit, individually.
Jones: It would depend on the location of the project. The solar farms are good for now but are not a cure-all for power. We are going to need to look at other sources of energy, especially for a growing community like Louisa. We have designated areas for these projects and they should have better guidelines on erosion control, landscaping and the location to the people.
What do you think about local law enforcement working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
Colsey: It is a benefit that local law enforcement cooperates fully with state and federal law enforcement efforts which include drug, immigrations, or terrorism enforcement efforts. One of the foundational functions of government is the protection of our communities.
Woodward: I have total trust in Sheriff Lowe and our local law enforcement in deciding what other agencies to work with to keep Louisa County safe.
Jones: I believe we should always follow the law of the land but I don’t know enough about what the local law enforcement should be doing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to have an opinion.
What are one or two biggest challenges you see facing Louisa County? How would you as a supervisor address them?
Colsey: Louisa County is already seeing the challenges to its rural community status as development increases from northern Virginia and Washington D.C. This creates a burden upon our roads, law enforcement, schools and local economy. While I support individual property rights, I will not support efforts to affect the master plan that do not preserve the rural nature of the county or do not benefit the residents of Louisa.
Woodward: Infrastructure, roads, keeping Louisa’s rural character and finishing the James River Water Project.
Jones: Infrastructure and housing are areas to consider. Infrastructure because we are a growing community and we need to communicate with the power companies to be sure we can meet supply demand. And be sure our roadways are safe for our citizens and the business traffic.
More about the candidates for the Louisa District of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors
- Colsey’s campaign finances in the Virginia Public Access Project
- Jones’s campaign finances in the Virginia Public Access Project
- Woodward’s campaign finances in the Virginia Public Access Project
- An Engage Louisa profile of the candidates
- A Q&A with the candidates in the Central Virginian
- More about property taxes in Louisa County in the Central Virginian
- More about flooding in Louisa County in the Central Virginian
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.