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Soil and Water Conservation Director Peanut District Suffolk {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Virginia established Soil and Water Conservation districts to carry out flood prevention and water conservation measures for agricultural and non-agricultural developments, and to develop and implement programs to control and prevent soil erosion. Each city within a Soil and Water Conservation District elects two members to represent their city or country on the Board. The Board then appoints an additional two members.More information about the powers and duties of Soil and Water Conservation Boards in Virginia can be found at

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  • Richard Allen Gwaltney

  • Okey Igbonagwam

  • Candidate picture

    Charles L. Owens

  • Renee T. Sandifer

  • Travis W. Williams

Biographical Information

What is the most pressing issue facing your district and how will you address it? (1000 character limit)

How should Hampton Roads address saltwater intrusion? (1000 character limit)

How do you balance the right of property owners to use their property as they see fit with the right of the surrounding community to a safe, healthy environment? (1000 character limit)

What invasive species should Virginians be most concerned about and what should we be doing? (1000 character limit)

How would you enhance awareness of the activities and value of the Soil and Water Conservation Boards? (1000 character limit)

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Address 126 Birdie Dr.
Campaign Phone (757) 582-3040
Biography Dr. Okey Igbonagwam is an Ass. Professor of Computer Information Systems at Saint Leo University, Hampton Roads Center, Virginia. Teaching philosophy based on selfless devotion to improving students’ knowledge skills; with strong academic and industrial background for real world experience coupled with core values of integrity, honesty, respect, professionalism, caring, teamwork, and stewardship. Dr. Igbonagwam retired from Lockheed Martin after 25 years in cooperate and defense entities. He ser
Facebook http://Drokey
Twitter @okeyva
Virginia, USA, and around the world, is aware that scientists worldwide have called into question the ecological viability of our planet. Civil society organizations have consistently expressed the need to preserve the earth’s capability to sustain life, restore degraded ecosystems, and foster a balanced interaction between humans and nature. Responsible stewardship necessitates that we should care of our limited resources, however, these resources are being depleted without reservations. Consequently, climate change is evidence in Virginia, and manifests in erosions, high tides, flood, and runoffs from development activities. These days, after it has rained, many streets are unpassable due to over flooding. Recently, there have been horrifying news in water contamination in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey from lead pipes, however, the effects of climate change in waterways and reservoirs pose threats of much higher magnitude. Finally, my concern with the health of this earth,
Our proximity to coastal wetlands, which perform a unique set of physical, chemical, biological functions, and annually provides billions of dollars of ecosystem services is threatened by saltwater. Knighton et al. (1991) referred to Saltwater intrusion (SWI) as “landward and/or upward displacement of the freshwater”. Environmental stressors that impact coastal wetlands show they have both natural and anthropogenic sources. I believe that we should follow some provable approaches to addressing these issues such as those from 2013 Yale UNITAR Workshop that recommended: Environmental education with available technological platforms including social media to engage everyone, especially younger generation with environmental protection measures and national laws governing them. Constitutional environmental governance, with less excessive judicial activism that can undermine democracy by shifting power from elected politicians to unelected judges. Corporate and government accountability wit
Everyone has the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment and the duty to defend it. The human right to a healthy environment brings together the environmental dimensions of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights; and protects the core elements of the natural environment that enable a life of dignity. The right also protects the civic space for individuals to engage in dialogue on environmental policy. Without it, government policies often cater to the commercial interests of the powerful, not the public, and certainly not the politically disenfranchised. However, we cannot embrace a regulatory system that reassigns rights every time a utilitarian calculus determines that the net social welfare would be improved by a reassignment without abandoning the private rights system on which the market depends. Agriculture is our district main industry, the right of the farmers must also be maintained, as part of sustaining life; ensure less political impedimen
Non-native plants, pests and diseases are classified as invasive species that could decimate native species, As a vacation destination and shipping hub, it is a high risk for invasive species like European Gypsy Moth - one of the most destructive pests, Veined Rapa Whelk -a large, predatory marine snail that inhabits the lower Bay,Chinese Mitten Crab - a light brown crustacean with a distinctive pair of hairy, white-tipped claws, Emerald Ash Borer a green, shiny beetle that lives on ash trees native to Asia,Purple Loosestrife - a perennial plant with spikes of bright purple flowers that bloom in mid-to late summer, Phragmites perennial plant with feathery plumes at the top of tall, stiff stalks,Nutria - a large, brown, semi-aquatic rodent that looks like a beaver and lives in marshes and wetlands,Zebra Mussels, a tiny bivalve with zebra-like stripes and a triangular shell, Mute Swans - a large, aggressive bird that is native to northern and central Eurasi,Blue Catfish - a large, smooth
President Franklin D. Roosevelt first established Soil and Water Conservation Districts to combat one of America’s greatest ecological disasters. It was 1935, when The Dust Bowl. Farmers watched their farms and their livelihoods dry up. Drought, compounded with poor farming practices, reduced the topsoil to a fine powder that blew away in massive rolling dust storms. I plan to increase environmental, utilizing available technological platforms like social media with public awareness to the established federal government Soil Conservation Service to help communities learn how to better manage their natural resources. Provide semi-annual seminars to district’s farmers, as well as organizing community gardens, plant trees, enhance woodlands and educate the youth. Implementation of the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share Program.Promotion of stewardship and conservation of soil and water by educating and providing assistance that encourages citizens to manage, protect, and enhance resources.
Address Suffolk, VA
Campaign Phone (757) 372-8634
Biography Charles L. Owens is a Navy veteran, successful local business owner and a long-time Suffolk resident. Charles believes that intentional, engaged and responsible stewardship of Suffolk's most critical resources is necessary for sustainable economic growth and development. Charles volunteers his time locally and has an active role in civic organizations that focus on giving back to our community. Charles knows what it means to serve and that's why he's running for Soil and Water Director.
The most pressing issue facing Suffolk County is the continued preservation, protection and improvement of our water quality from the Chesapeake Bay and into the tributaries that serve the County. This is a critical issue as water quality affects every aspect of life in our communities and a healthy water supply will support the propagation of aquatic life and game and the businesses that make a living off of them.

There is really no one solution, but, the best approach to ensure the preservation of our resources is to take a holistic approach to managing the problem. I will consider economic, cultural as well as ecologic goals when weighing actions to see what is in the best interest of the County. I will seek partnerships that make the most of wastewater processes that benefit crops/soil and the environment as well as actively pursuing improvements to water distribution infrastructure. Another option is to explore funding for water-efficient technology for farmers.
Suffolk already has in place aquifer replenishment activities at HRSD’s research facility in Suffolk. Water treatment approaches such as these are an effective way ahead for maintaining quality drinking water, maintaining our groundwater supply and addressing saltwater intrusion.
In general, private property may be put to its highest economic use. That said, as a means of balancing the community needs against the rights of property owners really comes down to consideration of alternatives that are economically sound, have long-term viability and have thoroughly considered the environmental impact of the land owner’s decision.

The best economic decision may not always be the best environmental or community decision. So, we must evaluate the impact on the community. Will there be increases in air pollution? In cases where applicable, how is waste managed and will it directly or indirectly impact our ground water? Also, economically speaking, if land is sold, we must consider its future use and what this land use will actually provide for the community in the way of long-term, sustainable economic growth for individuals and the County.
Invasive species are sometimes intentional introductions into our ecosystem. One example is the introduction of the beach plants that were planted to help with erosion control. The impact is that these plants are dense and prevent native plants from growing.

Further, invasive species are not exclusive to plants. We have to be mindful of what is introduced through food for livestock and household pets. Invasive species can affect crops, livestock and forests, rivers and streams.

Our communities need to be educated on the impact of such voluntary introductions and then informed on what to do if they encounter something out of the ordinary. Our responses to invader species must be swift as well as coordinated with other State Agencies to ensure proper eradication.
As a retired Navy Public Affairs Officer, I understand the value of developing outreach programs and relationships with the people we serve. We must inform other agencies as well as the citizens of Suffolk of what we do and demonstrate through action the availability of our programs. Most people are simply unaware that Soil and Water is a valuable resource and is the voice of natural resource issues.

I intend to investigate the feasibility of radio and television spots, increase participation in K-12 school programs, build relationships and trust with local media and, most importantly, be available to meet with and discuss issues of concern with the citizens of Suffolk. That begins with responding to emails, returning phone calls, speaking with farm sector interests, meeting with local businesses, and attending homeowner association meetings.
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