The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
CAMPAIGN 2013: Orange growth is an election issue
Future growth in Orange County and education are among the top issues under discussion as four candidates vie for two supervisor seats representing opposite ends of the rural county.
District One, representing the far western end of the county, is up for grabs between incumbent supervisor Shannon Abbs and challenger Diane Strong.
Abbs narrowly beat out then-incumbent board chairman Mark Johnson in the 2009 election by a five-vote margin. She says she believes in smaller government, and said growth is a concern where infrastructure is not in place to support it.
“There are two very distinct sides of Orange County,” she said. “The pull at the other end of the county concerns me. As our discussions continue for the Route 3 initiative, we need to be concerned with the cost implications to taxpayers of the western end of the county.”
Strong and her husband last year pursued and won a lawsuit against Orange County’s time-based subdivision restrictions (one division in four years). The judge in that case ruled that the county did not have authority to legislate a time-delay on subdivision of lots.
Strong favors limited growth in the county. “Now is the time,” she said, “to be proactive about broadening the county’s tax base. We need to attract businesses to our county to promote growth.”
She feels that some growth is needed for the health of the county’s economy, “but we do not want to change the character of Orange County,”
At the opposite end of the county, Jonathan Chasen and Jim Crozier are battling for the District Four supervisor’s seat.
Chasen, a financial adviser who works outside the county, feels that the district’s demographics have shifted to a more suburban orientation since the last census, and “I think it is important to have [a supervisor] who understands that mindset.”
Crozier, a 25-year county resident and retired firefighter, believes that the district is characteristically diverse.
“We have businesses, subdivisions and very rural areas,” he said. “We need to be very careful that we balance our economic development so that we don’t end up with something like Central Park.”
The two differ significantly on the issue of reopening the mothballed Locust Grove Middle School as an elementary facility.
Crozier believes the decision should be based on available funding. “I’d like to see that school open,” he said, “however, we must look at the funding we have, and do the most feasible thing.”
“I will vote 100 percent for opening that school,” he said. “There is no reason we can’t afford it—it’s simply a matter of priority. It needs to be open as soon as possible.”
The School Board seats for the two districts, meanwhile, are uncontested. Incumbent Lou Thompson is running unopposed in District One, while Bette Winter is the lone candidate for the District Four position.
Thompson, who characterizes himself as “a long-time advocate for public school education,” is an adjunct professor of communications studies at Germanna Community College and a member of the Orange County Education Foundation.
Winter has been a parent volunteer in Orange County Public Schools for six years and a four-year member of the Parent Advisory Council for Locust Grove Middle School.
Both Thompson and Winter have children currently enrolled in the county school system.