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Board of supervisors District E

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  • Jim Baker (Rep)

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    Mike Rush (I) Executive Director

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Biographical Information

If elected, would you make relevant planning and zoning decisions based on the county’s Comprehensive Plan? (If you have reservations, please explain.) Should the county employ a planner?

Large national retailers have been offered tax breaks and government subsidies to locate in Washington County. What do you feel are the best ways to develop and maintain a healthy local economy? How would you support locally-owned businesses?

Washington County Public Schools have been among the best in Virginia. Many voters are concerned that budget cuts to local contribution funding over recent years have played a role in personnel reductions, cutbacks in school programs, and delayed infrastructure maintenance. As a board member, are you willing to increase school funding as a percentage of the county budget?

Training workshops for elected officials are available through various agencies. Would you take advantage of formal training opportunities for county supervisors? If you have held office, have you already had any formal training?

What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues facing Washington County? How do you propose to address each of these? What in your personal experience has prepared you to help solve these issues?

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Campaign Phone (276) 492-3044
Education Doctorate- VA Tech Masters- Appalachian State Bachelors- Emory & Henry
Experience College Dean & VP, Professor Emeritus Builder/Developer Church Administrator (current)
Family spouse- Lisa Rush
Yes, with the understanding that a Comprehensive Plan is a living document whose purpose is to establish a guiding path. Research, evidence and feedback may require adjusting the Comprehensive Plan occasionally. The County Administrator also has the Planning Commission available to advise on zoning issues, and the court appoints a Zoning Appeals board. As an intermediate step to hiring a full-time planner, engaging a contract professional for a three year period might be a productive way to measure the need for such a position. Long-term planning is surely key to success, and is presently limited largely to capital projects. A fragmented, extemporaneous path leads nowhere.
There are probably instances where the greater good could be served by tax breaks and other incentives, but the local and regional experience with these subsidies as recruitment or retention tools has often been negative. A vibrant economy would ideally be comprised of small business and local entrepreneurship that creates economic diversity, supporting and improving the existing economy and culture here. Local small business owners and entrepreneurs are stakeholders committed to our area and way of life.
Having served as Chairman of the Washington County School Board, and having had a career in post-secondary education that included teaching Teacher Education, I have a clear understanding of the elements of school budgeting and finance, and also have a heart for the people who choose to teach. I have administered many multimillion-dollar budgets and know the complexities that lie therein. Funding our schools is the preeminent budget consideration (as a function of percentage-of-revenue) of the Board of Supervisors. I will provide both leadership and stewardship in this area. I’m anxious to engage in the local, regional and state conversations that result in adequate funding to keep Washington County attractional and effective.
Yes. Training is important as a continuing strategy for development, even among well-qualified and experienced board members. In my board service I’ve found that positive change occurs on the basis of timely information and research. I’ve had board training with the Virginia School Board Association, Virginia Community College System, non-profits People Incorporated and Habitat for Humanity, and others. I held the office of Chairman or President for the School Board, People Incorporated, Virginia Community Colleges Association, our local Habitat affiliate, Abingdon Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and served as Building Chair for the creation of the Appalachian School of Law, demonstrating my ability to engender confidence in my leadership among peers across many venues.
First, jobs and the local economy will require county support of workforce education, and of planning how to grow the economy while preserving our beautiful county. Agriculture and tourism are still main economic drivers, along with jobs in technology, health care, local arts, and construction. Shifts in retail create an unknown for tax revenues. Managed development is the second issue, to preserve the quality of life that makes our county the jewel of Southwest Virginia. Planning and prioritizing the county’s future should be in response to study, forecasting and emphasizing what our successes have been. The third issue is to keep a secure, safe and civil place to live. We enjoy a place where crime is low. Support of law enforcement, the courts and respectful public discourse has to be a purposeful objective.

I’ll address these issues by meeting the public, by examining the successes of other localities, and by understanding and reconciling differing views. I’ll keep the mission of county government in front of me by seeking input.

I’ve been a transformational leader in many areas. As a college administrator I moved the perception of community college transfer credits by years-long research and irrefutable evidence of student success. As a builder, I constructed many millions of dollars worth of affordable workforce housing. In all, I created cultures of trust, productivity and cooperation, most notably in resolving budget conflict while on the School Board.

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