Board of Supervisors hopefuls weigh in at forum

FRONT ROYAL – Candidates running for the Warren County Board of Supervisors weighed in on local issues at a forum Tuesday.

The Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce held the forum to a packed boardroom in the government center. The chamber collected questions from the public, some media outlets and its legislative committee. Jim Eastham read the questions to all candidates and each had one minute to respond.

Ralph Rinaldi, Thomas Sayre and Dee Schools are running for the Shenandoah District seat on the board. Shenandoah District Supervisor Richard Traczyk is not seeking re-election to the position. North River District Supervisor Daniel Murray Jr. is seeking a second term. N. Shae Parker is challenging Murray for the seat.

Candidates gave responses to the following questions:

What do you see as the county’s greatest transportation needs?

Schools cited the county’s list of cost sharing projects with the Virginia Department of Transportation but noted that the agency is not taking care of Blue Mountain Road (Va. 638).

Rinaldi said John Marshall Highway (Va. 55) from town limits to Linden and Blue Mountain Road are important transportation needs along with projects in the county’s Rural Addition program.

Murray cited the Leach Run Parkway and Happy Creek Road projects, noting that the former is needed for the second middle school and access to the Happy Creek Industrial Park.

Sayre said he would ensure that funding goes to the county’s sanitary districts to pay for cost sharing projects and cited Leach Run Parkway and Happy Creek Road improvements as transportation needs.

Parker said the biggest issues with transportation are finding the money to cover the needed improvements, taking care of roads long ignored and prioritizing projects.

Under what circumstances would you endorse raising taxes?

Rinaldi said he would support such a move if the majority of taxpayers asked for an increase but first would look for ways to cover spending needs without raising taxes.

Murray said the county needs to work the state House of Delegates and Senate so it doesn’t receive unfunded mandates.

Sayre said budgets need to be scrutinized and spending prioritized to make sure taxpayers receive their money’s worth.

Parker said needs should be prioritized, budgets combed through and unnecessary expenses questioned.

Schools noted that taxes continue to go up and the county still has capital projects to fund and other spending needs.

Do you feel the recent agreement over the U.S. 340-522 corridor is adequate?

Murray said he feels the deal is adequate though the county must now find ways to recover the money it will need to give the town as part of the agreement. Murray said there has been some misinformation disseminated in the community about the deal.

Sayre said the town collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from the corridor, via the county, through the agreement.

Parker said he’s happy the town and county reached an agreement but it’s not the best deal. The county will need to come up with the money to fulfill its end of the deal, possibly through another tax increase.

Schools said the agreement helps the schools, and residents don’t want to continue to hear about the arguing back and forth between the town and county about the corridor.

Rinaldi said the negative publicity about the issue is based on misinformation and that Town Council and the supervisors could find a solution by coming to an understanding.

What is your position on annexation of the corridor or consolidation?

Sayre said he wouldn’t support annexation and recalled the origins of the idea following the lawsuit the town lost over revenue collection from certain businesses in the corridor.

Parker said he isn’t an advocate of annexation or consolidation and, with the latter, services would still need to be provided in the town. Parker noted that it’s been 15 years since a town resident served on the Board of Supervisors and the idea of consolidation was broached as a way for the county to absorb the town.

Schools said she wouldn’t support either action, especially if residents didn’t, and added that she doesn’t know why the county would push consolidation if residents oppose the idea.

Rinaldi said he wouldn’t support either now but if the public sentiment changed he would want to revisit those options.

Murray said both ideas have been talked about for years and consolidation would require a referendum on an election ballot for the voters to decide.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the community in the next four years?

Parker said the town and county face socio-economic problems and need to address education, jobs and economic development, especially at the former Avtex Fibers site, to provide nearby residents living-wage jobs.

Schools said she sees keeping taxes low, funding public safety and job-creation as challenges along with teacher retention and their sales.

Rinaldi said the county needs to maintain the momentum of the school system and provide an education that helps students obtain living-wage jobs in the future.

Murray said education is the key to putting more people in the trade jobs and into fire and rescue positions.
Sayre said challenges include keeping taxes low, creating jobs and maintaining school buildings.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or