Hosted by the Scott County Chamber of Commerce, along with New Peoples Bank, Addington Oil and Food City, the event welcomed candidates for Virginia State Senate 40th Senatorial District, Virginia House of Delegates First Legislative District, constitutional offices, Board of Supervisors and school board. Candidates were given questions prior to the forum and were encouraged to answer the questions during their speaking time, though it wasn’t required.
Board of Supervisors candidates were asked the following questions: “With the recent decision of the current board to raise taxes to assist with rising county expenses, what would be your plan to address that issue to avoid raising taxes in the future?” and “What are your priorities if elected?”
Below are portions of the responses for districts 3 through 6; all candidates running for these positions were present at the forum except for District 6 Democrat Jeffrey Sloan. Responses from candidates in the other districts ran in a separate story yesterday.
Jeremy “George” Herron (District 3, Republican)
“We hear a lot about what we would do if another tax increase would come upon us. We hear a lot about jobs, bringing jobs into the community, bringing it into the county, and that’s A No. 1. We have to do that, but we lost a big agricultural crop that … got some of us through school; I know it did me, and that was tobacco. Tobacco’s pretty much gone, especially in my district and throughout the county. Agriculture is the main source of income, but that’s going downhill. A lot of the agricultural farms and stuff are growing up. They’re going to waste, so we need to bring something to this area. … The hemp business, I’ve actually talked to some of the people about growing that, and that’s sort of in the process. We need something to take the place of tobacco, and that would, in turn, help with the tax situation. …”
“I heard mentioned about the jail. The jail is a thorn in our side. Several people that I’ve talked to in District 3 are getting tired of even hearing about it, but that’s the major problem. Before we can move forward as a county, we have to do something about that jail. It’s costing us over $3 million a year … so we can’t keep just focusing our money on that with nothing coming back out of it.”
Garland “Jack” Compton (District 3, Democrat)
“When I first went into the Scott County Board of Supervisors … it was a big undertaking for me to learn, and (it’s been) a pleasure to serve Scott County. Reiterating on what everybody else has said about what we’re doing here in Scott County is the jail is killing us. Raising taxes was a hard decision, being a landowner and a farmer. … Being a landowner, it don’t exempt you from being on that Board of Supervisors and paying taxes. We all have to pay them. … When we make a motion in the board to pay our bills, the regional jail is there, and you see $559,000 wondering where’s it going to, and that’s the biggest bill that we have in our county. …”
“We’re mandated by (the state) to give the Scott County sheriff’s department, the school system or whatever we do, we’re mandated by the state to give them so much money because we have 23,000 people. … Anyway, when it comes down to the regional jail and we have to pay the bill down there, it’s hard. It is hard to sit there and knowing that the taxpayer, when it comes down to the end of the year, whether you raise taxes or take it out of your general fund, it’s a big deal.”
Michael Brickey (District 4, Republican)
“I realize that the Board of Supervisors do not control or micromanage agencies and boards, but the board can and should ask questions and offer suggestions to agency heads concerning their budgets. I would expect each agency in the county to be constantly aware of their budgets and in the back of their minds to consider the impact of their decisions as a whole on the county and ... how to most effectively use their funding provided by those taxpayers. I would expect county government department heads and their boards to look at immediate ways to keep their budgets where they are or to reduce their budgets.”
“I believe it’s only common sense for us as a county to work to improve infrastructure to support the recruitment of as many businesses and industries as we can, to retain and support current business and industry in the county, to continually monitor spending in Scott County by all agencies … no. 4, to continue to pursue avenues for payment of delinquent taxes; five, to continue to look for solutions to the high cost of maintaining the regional jail and to continue to explore ways to build or add to rainy day funds.”
Danny Mann (District 5, Republican)
“The regional jail, let’s talk about it. … What’s been said here from those on the board, served on the board, it’s been a problem trying to not raise taxes. The worst thing you can do is raise taxes and it’s still not enough; you’ve got to take it out of the general fund. You don’t have enough to run the county. … Whoever said the phrase, ‘the low-hanging fruit,’ we picked that fruit; it still wasn’t enough, so we cut everything we could cut. The department heads, you couldn’t ask for better, because they’ve done everything they could to try to keep costs down and still not enough. …”
“Rarely is there any new money that comes into this county, and raising taxes, it’s the hardest thing you do. … The fire departments, the rescue squads, we level-fund them. Their cost goes up, we can’t do anything about it. … Folks, I have some good friends here running for sheriff, but for any sheriff to say that ‘the regional jail is not my problem; it’s not my deputies’ problem,’ folks, if you live here and pay taxes and if you’re the chief law enforcement officer, it is your problem. The Board of Supervisors absolutely wants the laws enforced.”
Selma Hood (District 6, Republican)
“I am retired from Eastman Chemical Co.; while I was there, I worked primarily in accounting, marketing and procurement. I was involved with many multimillion-dollar deals, and I dealt with people around the world. I’ve been involved in many volunteer efforts; I served as executive director for the United Way for 12 years and also served on the budget committee. … On the questions, I want to keep taxes as low as possible and make the most effective use of the revenue received.”
“I will look for revenue opportunities through tourism, agriculture processes and technology. All citizens in Scott County should have Internet and cell phone service so that they will be able to do the jobs when technology jobs come to the area. I want to see progress in infrastructure, including dirt roads. The current speed on all unpaved roads in the state of Virginia is 35 miles per hour. The measures need to be taken to manage the dust on these unpaved roads, because all Americans deserve clean air. My goal in life is to make a positive difference in every life I touch, and I hope the voters in District 6 will give me the opportunity to make a difference in Scott County through my service.”
*Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories from the candidate forum.