Election 2021: Louisa County Board of Supervisors, Patrick Henry District

William Woody (at left) and Fitzgerald Barnes

The Central Virginian asked the candidates for Louisa County Board of Supervisors, Patrick Henry District to answer a few questions, and here's what they had to say. We start with incumbent Fitzgerald Barnes, followed (see below) by Republican candidate William Woody.

Fitzgerald Barnes:

Please provide a brief bio, including age, educational background, work experience, etc.

Fifty-seven years old, B.S. in Agricultural Education. Worked for the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. Agriculture Teacher and retired Athletic Director. I have lived in Louisa for 30 years.  

Why are you running for supervisor?

I’m seeking re-election because I really enjoy being a person that fights for those citizens that need a voice in local government.

What have you accomplished as a board member, or hope to if you’re elected?

I have worked hard over the years to create jobs – Lowes,Walmart Distribution,Walmart, Amazon and developing the Ferncliff Business Park. I am proud of the Betty Queen Center and aquatic facility that we built. I’m proud of the progress that our schools have made during my tenure. I’m most proud of being a part of the negotiation to bring high-speed internet to homes in Louisa.

What distinguishes you most from your opponent in this race?

The biggest difference between me and my opponent is that I have always brought fresh new ideas to county government. As a independent candidate, I don’t have to follow a political party  agenda to get things done.

Is there anything you would like to see the board as a whole work more on, or do things differently?

I would love to see our board do a vision 2025 plan.We need to plan further down the road to address our projected concerns with our seniors, youth, housing, education, emergency services, sheriff’s department and employment opportunities. 

What do you propose to do in response to the rising cost of housing in the county?

Affordable housing is a problem that we will have to address. It affects our workforce’s ability to have decent and affordable housing. We have to look at housing that is inclusive, mix various incomes in the same development. 

What sort of new controls, if any, do you support on the amount of new solar panel development in the county?

The county is working on a plan to monitor the amount of solar projects going forward. It’s unfortunate that one bad project has tainted the industry. We will most definitely address the areas of concerns that we have seen.The Department of Environmental Quality has the largest regulatory responsibility and that will get better.

As the county continues to grow, what more can the board do to help protect our rural character?

During our comprehensive plan, we reduced the number of acres in growth area tremendously. The key to protect the rural area is to provide water and sewer only in areas of growth. I will not support rezoning property that is not in the growth area.

What should the board do to strengthen economic development, including job creation?

The board has done a good job attracting businesses that provide good-paying, labor-intensive jobs. I think we need to move into two areas that are new. We need to create small business incubators that will encourage small business start-ups. Secondly, we need to create an environment that will allow us to attract data centers, because of the large amount of citizens that drive daily to work at these centers.We already have the workforce to support the centers.

 

William Woody:

Please provide a brief bio, including age, educational background, work experience, etc.

I moved to Louisa at the age of 9 and graduated from Louisa County High School in 1990. I have lived in the Patrick Henry District for over 15 years with my wife Buffy and we are thankful that we can call Louisa home. We attend Grace Free Will Baptist Church and enjoy supporting outreaches to our community. Some examples include Litter Pickup on Poindexter Road, Grace’s Christmas Toy Drive, & the Community Extravaganza.

My career is in the Insurance Industry where I currently serve as an Examiner for Automobile Claims. The primary responsibility of my position is to negotiate litigation settlements. I have been with my current employer for over 10 years.

Why are you running for supervisor?

There has been a growing sentiment in recent years about the lack of equal representation on the Board of Supervisors. Equal representation meaning that everyone feels that that their voice is being heard and their concerns are being addressed. The Patrick Henry District needs a representative that is willing to be present and available when called upon by any member of their constituency. I am running because I have been called to serve the public with the goal of being proactive opposed to reactive.

What have you accomplished as a board member, or hope to if you’re elected?

My primary goal is to ensure that every person in the district, regardless of party affiliation, has a representative the board who will always be accessible. Someone who will meet with Louisa’s citizens, go to the places that cause concern, and be attentive to the needs of the Patrick Henry District.

It is also a top priority to attract well paying jobs to the county. Louisa is a wonderful place to live, go to school, and raise a family. However, many citizens must travel outside of the county to earn a living. I will work to attract businesses with comprehensive salary and benefits packages who will employ our citizens.

What distinguishes you most from your opponent in this race if you have one?

I respect Mr. Barnes and appreciate his years of service but there is a difference in philosophies. I think that a representative needs to be more responsive and accessible. On governing, I believe that some of his policies such as unrestricted solar and proposed tax & assessment increases have caused the government to be a burden, not a supporter, of the citizens.

Is there anything you would like to see the board as a whole work more on, or do things differently?

The Board of Supervisors should get back to basics: focus on supporting our law enforcement, a strong education system, and high-quality public services. There should not be a concentration on pet projects or luxuries that balloon the budget and require the Board to take more from its citizens. It needs to be more responsive to the average citizen, not just wealthy developers, or out-of-town special interests. The Board needs to change its approach on solar because the hands-off approach has been devastating in the Patrick Henry District.

What do you propose to do in response to the rising cost of housing in the county?

The rules of supply and demand tell us that increasing supply brings down the cost of a goods. The county must continue to accommodate the construction of new houses in Louisa while also taking into consideration location, lot size, and volume to ensure we maintain our rural character and mitigate the impact on our public services. The Board also needs to keep property taxes low so that people on a fixed income are not paying more and more every year for their taxes.

What sort of new controls, if any, do you support on the amount of new solar panel development in the county?

I have called on the Board to implement a one-year moratorium on solar projects until there is a solid plan in place. We need to confer with experts in other counties who have been successful at balancing the benefits of solar to landowners versus keeping development manageable. There also needs to be consideration on the placement of these solar projects. The Board is approving these projects in agriculturally zoned areas with little to no regard of the consequences to the surrounding properties. Without question there needs to be measures in place to prevent further destruction of property by way of increased buffers and runoff prevention measures. The amount of total acreage utilized for solar projects in the county might also be a viable solution.

As the county continues to grow, what more can the board do to help protect our rural character?

Louisa needs more business development, but we need to be smart about it. Development should be confined to the designated growth areas. The county also needs to limit high density housing. As previously mentioned, there also needs to be an increase in the buffers for solar projects.

What should the board do to strengthen economic development, including job creation?

The Board of Supervisors should keep taxes and regulations low. Businesses need to know that they are welcomed here and will not see sudden fluctuations in taxes they pay once they have committed to Louisa. Mr. Barnes has proposed new taxes on businesses such as the so-called “Sin Tax” which does not help attract jobs. 

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