The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Three seeking Battlefield District seat
Two political newcomers and a former supervisor are vying for the open Battlefield District seat on the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors.
Chris Yakabouski, 39, a Republican, is seeking the seat for the third time. He was elected once—serving from 2004–07—but stepped down after unsuccessfully challenging then-State Sen. Edd Houck for his seat. He is president of Bob Yak and Sons Home Remodeling LLC.
Willie Brown, 73, an independent, is a retired 1st assistant superintendent of the Erie County Holding Center in New York. He has never held elected office but served on the state Board of Pharmacy from 2002–10 after being appointed by Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
And Lora Pierce, 49, an independent, is a billing manager for Surgical Associates of Fredericksburg. She has been a block captain for the Spotswood Estates neighborhood watch, and in May became the group’s coordinator.
Current Battlefield District Supervisor Benjamin Pitts is stepping down at the end of the year.
Yakabouski emphasizes his political experience. He last sought the Battlefield District seat in 2009 but was defeated by Pitts.
“The experience that I have on the board lends to being ready to do the job on day one and also having some ideas of what needs to be done,” he said.
One of his goals is to create a countywide transportation plan that he says would give the supervisors leverage when considering proposed developments. Instead of relying on developers to come up with road fixes, he said, supervisors could identify needed improvements from the plan.
“We start driving the conversation instead of developers,” Yakabouski said.
Brown said he’s running to bring new ideas to the board.
“I’ve heard some things that were said that I thought were inappropriate, particularly about education,” said Brown, who has the backing of the Spotsylvania Education Association.
For instance, he said he believes some supervisors have unfairly blamed the school system for not providing teacher raises. Supervisors allocate money to the school division, and the School Board decides how to spend it.
He says he isn’t against new development, but thinks it should be “smart.” The county needs communities where people don’t have to get in a car every time they leave the house, Brown said.
“I know we can’t stop development because that’s a part of our growth, and it’s a part of our revenue,” Brown said. “But we must in some ways step back and look at how we expand and what we need to accompany that growth.”
Pierce says she decided to run after a neighbor in Spotswood Estates told her she’d make a good supervisor.
She gave it some thought and decided it was time to give back. “I really do believe in the democratic process, and I think just regular people need to be running,” said Pierce, who says she has knocked on more than 4,000 doors during her grass-roots campaign.
She’s worked in insurance billing for 25 years and has also helped out with various small businesses run by her husband, Jeffrey. She says she understands how bureaucracies work and will review the county budget line by line to find savings.
“I’m really good at asking questions,” she said. “You have to figure out what the right question is and ask it and not give up.”
Brown and Pierce say they wouldn’t represent the interests of any party.
“I would represent the people of the county, and that’s what my bottom line would be,” Brown said.
Pierce said: “I didn’t want to be beholden to any parties. I wanted to be beholden to my neighbors.”
Yakabouski, who is endorsed by the Spotsylvania Republican Committee, said he thought it would be dishonest of him not to run as a Republican. He noted that he doesn’t agree with all of the GOP’s positions.
“I am not beholden to anybody except the voters,” Yakabouski said.
On taxes, Yakabouski said at a forum that the current real estate levy of 88 cents per $100 of assessed value was a “good rate” and that he didn’t plan on increasing it.
Brown said the current board’s anti-tax ideology has drawbacks. “Smaller government doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an efficient government,” he said. Any tax increase should be earmarked for specific purposes like education and public safety, he said.
Pierce says she’s willing to raise taxes but “not without looking at everything first.”
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402