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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Board of supervisors District B

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    Joel Harte (Dem) Furniture/Cabinet Maker

  • Randy Pennington (Rep)

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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?

Campaign Phone (276) 274-3817
Education Long Island University, Masters in Early Childhood and Elementary Education University of Rochester, BA in History
Experience 30-year member & past-president of Abingdon Rotary Served as a construction supervisor Abingdon Coomes Center Play Station Small Business Owner
Family Wife: Nancy Children: Erin, James and Michael
The County’s Comprehensive Plan is an extensive, well written document. It is a guide and, as such, may be amended as times change. All changes should be made in keeping with the spirit of the original as long as it is in effect.

A county planner is a trained professional, well versed in planning and zoning issues that can effect the future development of the county. A member of the Board of Supervisors is not. One uninformed decision by the Board can, easily, cost more than the salary of one employee for many years. Choosing a planner with the critical skills to match our County’s particular needs is an extremely important decision.
I question the push towards large national retailers. We have a limited population than can buy just so much. Many of the stores sell the same products and, though I encourage competition, watching one store knock another out of business, or watching stores move from one shopping area to another, does not seem to promote economic development.

It provides little for our residents. We need diversified growth with businesses that provide a living wage. We need manufacturing that produces goods to sell in other areas, with taxable income returning here. We need a business incubator to help develop small businesses in the county. And we need a Board that publicly supports these businesses once they hit the streets in our county.

National retailers receive tax breaks and government subsidies from governments hungry for tax revenue. There must be an exit strategy when they leave ensuring the county is not left with empty buildings that are hard to fill and provide no tax dollars.
Washington County Public Schools rank 57th out of over 100 systems in the state. Budget cuts will not raise our rankings. Education is the means to insure the future success of our children. Preparing students for an increasingly complicated job market that requires more and more specific skills is a daunting, expensive proposition.

Good schools and economic development go hand in hand. An educated workforce is more attractive to new industry. A good school system is more attractive to new executives with school age children. Better schools should bring future dollars back to the county to help fund them.
I have never run for public office, but I’m a firm believer in lifelong education. As a candidate, or as a newly elected official, I would consider training a wonderful opportunity.

I am a 30 year member of The Abingdon Rotary Club and a past president. We received training over a year in advance of taking office. We were taught how to run a club, delegate responsibility, and trust the members around us. And we were taught we were members of a much larger group with members all over the world. The motto “Service above self“ applies to any organization you choose to join.
Responsible economic development that does not rely, solely, on the buying power of our residents is the goal. Careful planning for long term growth is the answer.

Education for the future, making sure children are prepared for jobs that can provide a decent standard of living for those who want to stay and those who choose different careers elsewhere, is the goal. Continuing evaluation of school programs and dollars make for good schools. Good schools make for a healthier environment for investment.

Openness in government and a willingness to compromise is our goal. Well informed residents are more likely to respond in a civil manner. Meetings by Board members throughout the districts are a start. Trust between residents and educated, responsible Board members make decisions more acceptable even if we disagree sometimes.

In closing, I do understand that our Board is located in a rural county with limited financial resources. That is why every dollar spent must be carefully spent, and that is why economic development must be suited to our specific needs.
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