Three candidates endorsed by Warren County GOP

With three Town Council seats open in the upcoming November election, the Warren County Republican Committee recently endorsed its choices after a forum.

Candidates who received endorsements are Alford “A.D.” Carter, incumbent Gary Gillispie, and Chris Holloway. They are running against incumbent Christopher Morrison, Robert Tennant and Letasha Thompson.

Morrison, who works for the Department of Energy, did not participate in the forum because the Hatch Act prevents federal employees from seeking party endorsements.

The forum included the following questions:

Question: What is your impression of the town-county relationship and how would you improve its working relationship?

Gillispie said it is a “great working relationship” and the two entities need to work together in bringing jobs to the area, which he would like to continue attempting to do so.

Tennant said the town and county are “working great together,” board members seem to know each other, and they have a good line of communications.

Carter said the town-county relationship has always been good but gets better with time. He said it needs continued fostering because what is good for the county is good for the town.

Hollway said the relationship has improved and could continue doing so with more Liasion Committee meetings, noting the need to bring jobs to town and not just the county.

Thompson agreed that the relationship has seemingly improved and could continue doing so with more sit-down meetings, adding that “Warren County and Front Royal is basically the same.”

Question: What is the one thing the town can do to improve Main Street?

Thompson said it could attempt to mirror Winchester’s walking mall and businesses could extend hours. She added that businesses should be encouraged, so empty spaces are rented.

Hollway agreed and said there should be required hours that businesses are open. He added facade improvements have helped and said a walking mall would cost money but be a good idea.

Carter agreed and said businesses should not close by 5 or 7 p.m. He asked how downtown can be revitalized if there is no opportunity for businesses owners to be profitable.

Tennant said more parking is needed and suggested that E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School’s lot could be used as a public lot. He agreed that there should be extended business hours.

Gillispie noted there are plans for public bathrooms, facade improvements and a pavilion. He said parking is needed and suggested the town and county partner in bringing a garage.

Question: How will you analyze the budget before a tax vote is taken and what would it take for you to vote for a tax increase?

Gillispie said: “Everything needs to be looked at” and tax increases should be the last resort and noted his recent against a tax increase. He added that expenses should be cut before tax increases because many citizens have fixed incomes.

Tennant said: “You’ve got to look through everything” and he does not believe in raising taxes. He said more people need to move into town. He added that it would “have to be an extreme situation” for him to favor a tax increase.

Carter said the council should not write a check without having money in the bank. He said: “I’m not about taxing” and the “direct proportion and relationship to what has been garnered does not equate to the service rendered to those citizens.”

Holloway said during his previous stint on council he never voted for a tax increase. He said:“There are other ways to earn your money,” such as attracting businesses. He added that since 2012, the town’s savings has gone from $21 to $29 million while debt increased by $34 million.

Thompson said she would analyze the budget line by line and seek potential savings. She said if a tax increase benefited 90 percent of the town, she would vote yes. She added that no one wants taxes, but if it was beneficial for the community, “then I say we do it.”

Question: Do you favor centralizing government facilities shared between the town and county? If so, can you give any examples that would save the taxpayer’s money?

Thompson said anytime the town and county can use resources together, split costs and share resources is ideal.

Holloway noted the county owns the former middle school and there is probably space there to merge offices. He said merging the 911 communications center could save money and “is a must.”

Carter said procurement of equipment and materials should be done in a consolidated effort. He said Warren County buys more materials and the town should utilize a potential discount.

Tennant said the town and county should work together as a team and any joint efforts “would be a very good idea.”

Gillispie noted that there are joint departments already and “I would be all for” centralizing anything that would be beneficial.