The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
CAMPAIGN 2013: Berkeley candidates no strangers to local boards
All three candidates for the open Berkeley District seat on the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors have been active in the local government scene.
Dennis Buchanan, 60, an independent, has been an election official since 1999 and serves on Spotsylvania’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Greg Cebula, 75, a Republican, has been an election official since 2000 and has been chairman of a county budget advisory committee.
And Mark Kuechler, 63, an independent, has run twice for the Berkeley District supervisors seat and is currently chair of the county’s Fire and EMS Commission.
They are vying for the seat being vacated by Emmitt Marshall, who is stepping down after 34 years as a supervisor.
Buchanan, whom Marshall has endorsed, says he doesn’t have a specific agenda. The needs of one department, he said, shouldn’t outweigh the needs of another.
“I’m not running for something; I’m not running against something,” said Buchanan, who is a telecommunications technician for Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. “Everything comes into play.”
He said he thinks he’s more “well-rounded” than his opponents, citing his experience on local government boards—including an 11-year stint on the Cable Commission—and his role overseeing finances for his church.
Buchanan also noted that he helped the Sheriff’s Office with requests for proposals for a multimillion-dollar public safety radio system.
“To me, it’s a sense of community, a sense of duty, in order to give back,” said Buchanan, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1971–77.
Unlike his opponents, he is supportive of the Berkeley District’s Crossroads Station development, which was approved this year. That project, off the U.S. 17 Bypass near the future Virginia Railway Express station, is envisioned to have 610 apartments and commercial space.
“You have mass transit and commercial situated next to the apartments,” Buchanan said in an email. “I think that is what would be desired.”
Cebula touts his experience, saying he has been a community volunteer all of his life. When he lived in Prince William County, he was elected to various positions in a large homeowner’s association.
“I will be a full-time supervisor, and I think that’s what’s needed in the Berkeley District,” said Cebula, who is retired from Computer Sciences Corp. and was in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years.
Cebula said one of his priorities will be to attract new businesses to Spotsylvania.
The approval of Crossroads Station, he said, was not a “business-friendly” move. That’s because, as a result of that decision, firearms manufacturer Beretta USA. Corp. said it probably wouldn’t expand its nearby Crossroads Parkway property.
Residential development “provides revenue burdens that businesses do not,” said Cebula, who said he thinks supervisors moved too quickly in approving several developments this year. “Businesses don’t have kids. Businesses don’t have the requirements on infrastructure that an increased population does.”
Kuechler, like his opponents, emphasizes his community involvement. He’s been a volunteer firefighter in the county for 25 years and is currently president of the Spotsylvania Volunteer Fire Department.
“I’ve been committed to my community since I got here,” Kuechler said at a recent candidate forum. “I think that says something.”
He said his priorities include public safety, adequately funding schools, economic development and making road improvements in the Berkeley District.
He said he opposes the Crossroads Station development, believing that property is better suited for commercial projects only.
Kuechler, who is president of the MK Group, said his strengths are in strategic planning and money management. He touts a “conservative outlook” and says “ I would carry those values to the Board of Supervisors.”
A hot issue in the Berkeley District this year was the approval of the Dominion Raceway in Thornburg. Some residents who live nearby opposed the raceway, which was approved this year and will include an oval track for stock car racing, a drag strip, a road course and a go-kart course.
Opponents are mainly concerned about traffic and noise.
Still, Buchanan and Cebula expressed support for the development, which is scheduled to open in 2015.
“Anything that we do that brings more revenue to the county is a good thing,” said Cebula, who received a $500 campaign contribution from the raceway.
Buchanan, who received a $1,000 contribution from the track, said he probably would’ve voted in favor of the project, based on the information he has received. He noted that he has found more Thornburg residents who support the racetrack than oppose it.
Kuechler, the only Berkeley District candidate not to receive a large campaign contribution from the raceway, has expressed concern about the project’s impact on emergency services. His wife, Diane, was part of an anti-raceway coalition.
Asked recently about his stance on the project, Kuechler said, “It’s here. Now it’s a performance issue.”
On the issue of taxes, Buchanan and Kuechler said they don’t want to raise them but wouldn’t rule out the possibility.
“I can’t guarantee you I won’t raise taxes,” Buchanan said. “And as I have talked to people they understand that, and they’re not asking for that promise. All they’re asking is that if you raise it, don’t waste it.”
Meanwhile, Cebula said there would have to be a disaster for him to OK a tax increase.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402