The Louisa County Candidates’ Forum, co-hosted by The Central Virginian and the Louisa County Chamber of Commerce at the Louisa Arts Center on Tues., Oct. 29, drew a crowd of approximately 90 residents who came to learn more about the candidates and their views of various issues.
The candidates answered a wide variety of questions presented by citizens covering topics seeking their views on budget reduction, gun control, education and schools, tourism, broadband internet service, promoting growth, tourism and gang-related activity in the county.
The most important debate of the evening, which was moderated by Ginger Stanley, executive director of the Virginia Press Association, focused on the three-way Mineral District board of supervisors race with incumbent Willie Harper facing off against contenders Mark Alberts and Stephanie Koren.
Also participating were Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis, and school board candidates including the unopposed Sherman Shifflett (Mineral district) and Gregory Strickland (Patrick Henry district). Gail Proffitt, who is seeking reelection to the Mountain Road district seat, did not attend.
Brian Huffman (Green Springs district), who is seeking reelection to the school board seat, is being opposed by Tyler Pieron, who was unable to attend the forum for medical reasons.
Tommy Barlow (Mountain Road district) was the only unopposed candidate seeking reelection who participated in the forum. Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry district) was called away to deal with an unscheduled issue and Dick Havasy (Green Springs district) also was unable to participate due to recent dental work-related issues.
During the Mineral District Board of Supervisors debate, all candidates agree that bringing broadband internet service to to county residents and businesses is critical.
Koren said that she believes it is a necessity, adding that when her property owners’ association applied to build a tower within her subdivision at Lake Anna to provide internet service for the neighborhood, the supervisors refused to approve it.
Harper, who said that he also believes broadband internet is vital to the community, argued that the board of supervisors has never received such an application by Koren’s property owners’ association and, therefore, never voted to deny it.
On the subject of tourism, both Alberts and Koren said Lake Anna is a gem that they believe has not been properly promoted to boost tourism in Louisa County. Harper offered several ideas in which he believes tourism can be promoted including a rails to trails project and improving the county website.
The Mineral District candidates were also asked their stance on the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office’s battle against encroaching gang activity.
According to Harper, the supervisors are currently funding 18-20 deputies, in addition to those funded by the state compensation board. The board has been approached to develop a certification program, which he said has yet to be done.
Harper believes that the system, unfortunately, favors the law breakers, but he contends that crime prevention starts with developing programs to work with the county’s youth.
For full story, please read The Central Virginian’s October 31 edition.