Bernie Hill

Hill previously worked for several Virginia state government agencies in the areas of budgeting and information technology. He has served on the Louisa County Broadband Authority since 2014.

Below are answers Hill provided to questions about his campaign:

Why do you want to be supervisor?

I want to represent all residents of the Jackson District equally – without regard to any political party or special interest groups. While visiting my neighbors in the Jackson District to obtain the necessary signatures to be on the ballot in November, I was motivated by their positive responses and their confidence that I can win the election. First and foremost, the district needs a supervisor who will represent the citizens – not their own special interests. If elected, I will do my best to represent the Jackson District in an honest and professional manner.

Give us a little information about your qualifications for the role.

I have more than 20 years of executive leadership experience in Commonwealth of Virginia agencies such as Planning and Budget, Information Technology, Transportation, Corrections, University of Virginia and the community college System.  I have earned a Ph.D. (Doctorate) in Public Policy and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master’s degree in Business from VCU, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education. 

My academic preparation, combined with my extensive government leadership experience, enables me to understand Louisa County government in its entire complexity.  My qualifications promote a broad perspective with regard to business, government and the views of people in the Jackson District.

My wife and I have lived in Louisa County for 45 years. I have served on the Louisa County Broadband Authority for five years and I served as the chair for the Louisa County Comprehensive Plan Committee in the 1990s. 

When it comes to broadband, why do you think wireless is a better solution for Louisa than fiber-optic lines, and why are you dissatisfied with your opponent’s work on this issue? 

First, a point of clarification! Wireless and fiber are not mutually exclusive – optimally they can work together to deliver broadband to homes in Louisa County.   After an extensive amount of research and consultation with firms who specialize in rural broadband, the Louisa County Broadband Authority chose a solution that relies on both fiber to-the-tower and wireless technologies to the home. 

Why not fiber to every home in Louisa County? The answer can be found in the experiences of other notable companies. Google had ambitious plans for delivering broadband by fiber to large populations. However, because of excessive deployment costs of fiber to every home over a six-year effort, Google Fiber transitioned abruptly to a hybrid fiber-wireless solution in 2016 with the acquisition of Webpass.  Google/Webpass former Chief Executive Charles Barr said wireless offers an opportunity to overcome the challenging economics of building fiber networks from scratch. “Everyone who has done fiber to the home has given up because it costs way too much money and takes way too much time.” (Source: Wall Street Journal, Aug. 14, 2016)   

To begin to address the rural broadband gap, Microsoft launched, in July 2017, the Microsoft Airband Initiative.  This initiative uses a variety of broadband connectivity technologies, including fixed wireless technologies, satellite, and fiber. “This approach can reduce initial capital and operating costs by more than 80 percent compared with using fiber optic cable alone.” (Source: An Update on Connecting Rural America - The 2018 Microsoft Airband Initiative, Dec. 3, 2018)

Unfortunately, my opponent adamantly claims that fiber to every home is the only suitable option for broadband in Louisa County. He has ignored the evidence provided by other companies who have failed in their attempts to accomplish that same goal. If my opponent refuses to be informed by lessons learned by Google, Microsoft and similar endeavors and therefore insists on fiber-to-the-home, Louisa County taxpayers will incur a very heavy cost – and residents will still be without internet.  

What’s wrong with your opponent’s approach to fire and emergency services? What will you do differently? 

My opponent has used his role as board of supervisor liaison to the Fire & EMS Management Oversight Group as a “bully pulpit” to force members into taking actions that he deemed most appropriate. He is a self-proclaimed expert in all matters related to fire and rescue – ignoring the knowledge and experience of professionals in fire and EMS services.

As an example, he asserted that each station needs only one automated CPR assist device, ignoring the fact that multiple rescue vehicles are out on calls simultaneously and that occasionally a CPR assist device could be out of service for repairs.   

 My commitments as supervisor:

I will work to restore operating budgets for fire and rescue and to provide greater autonomy in the use of that money to serve citizens.

I will repair the adversarial relationship created by my opponent.

I will ensure that funding for fire and rescue services does not fall victim to veiled claims of “efficiency savings.”

I will initiate a recognition and reward program exclusively for volunteer staff.

Why would you have voted against the Shannon Hill Business Park?

Not only would I have voted against the Shannon Hill Business Park, but if elected, I will vote against any future expenditures for development of the park.

What do 99 percent of Louisa County residents know that the board of supervisors doesn’t seem to know? Answer: The fairy tale story of “build it and they will come” doesn’t work in real life. There are scores of mostly-empty industrial sites all over the Commonwealth.  Midpoint Industrial Park just four miles east of Shannon Hill has just gone up for auction. Another local failure!

What did the board of supervisors know that 99 percent of Louisa County residents didn’t know? 

That they were working in secret to spend our tax money on some speculative land purchase. They were planning in secret without any public input. They might as well have traveled to the gambling tables in Las Vegas with our $2.6 million – the results may have been better. 

Given what you know about the continued delays in bringing water from the James River and the limits of the county’s existing water sources, is there anything you might do differently to address that issue in the next four years?

For starters, taxpayers in the Jackson District should not continue to pay more of their tax dollars to fix the problems the County has created with the James River Water Project. Historically, Jackson District residents have paid their taxes for services that are provided elsewhere in the County. As examples of how people in the Jackson District have been cheated over the last several decades, the district has received no broadband, endures overcrowded schools, and has dilapidated playground equipment stuck in the middle of nowhere. Jackson District residents should not continue paying more and more taxes to provide water and sewerage that promotes the haphazard developments at Zion Crossroads. Enough is enough!

The board of supervisors speaks of “lucrative development” at Zion Crossroads. (Source: The Central Virginian, Aug. 8, 2019).  That development is not lucrative for taxpayers in the Jackson District whose taxes are being misused to pay for speculative infrastructure costs at Zion Crossroads. 

Therefore, I will not vote in favor of any additional expenditures to feed the greed of those seeking to benefit at the expense of Jackson District residents.

Explain your position regarding the Jouett Elementary School addition.

Jouett Elementary School provides an excellent education to children from the Jackson, Mountain Road and Cuckoo voting districts. My wife was teaching at Jouett in 1994 when the first trailer arrived to accommodate classroom overcrowding. That was 25 years ago and now the school has five classroom trailers scattered behind the main school building. Students deserve better! Parents deserve better! The community deserves better!

I commend the current superintendent and the school board for taking necessary and definitive steps to address this problem. After the upcoming architectural and engineering study and cost estimate is complete, the board of supervisors must approve the construction funds within the July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 fiscal year.  Unfortunately, there are no approved funds in the current budget year for the construction of the Jouett Elementary School.  

As supervisor, I will vote for the necessary funding for construction of the Jouett addition. I will also champion the approval with other board members.