Editor’s note: This is one in a series of question and answer articles about local candidates running for office. The Northern Virginia Daily asked candidates three questions. The unedited responses are below.
Cheryl Cullers is running against Leslie Matthews and Robert Hupman for the South River District seat on the Warren County Board of Supervisors. Incumbent Linda Glavis is not seeking reelection.
What actions will you take to regain citizens' trust in public officials in the wake of the embezzlement scandal at the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority?
When I announced for South River Supervisor in February, I recommended the Warren County Board create a Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline modeled after the Commonwealth’s Hotline to investigate and correct concerns from our citizens. The Board adopted my proposal and the Hotline is functioning. Here’s a link for Warren County residents to report issues or concerns: https://warrencountyva.net/report-a-concern-of-fraud-waste-or-abuse
Warren County’s problems are both big and immediate. They go beyond the EDA embezzlement scandal. That’s why I’ve taking steps already to address some of these issues, rather than waiting for the election to act. I’m attending meetings of the County Board, Town Council, budget planning sessions, sanitary districts, contractor meetings, and homeowner associations to educate myself on the issues we face.
Our problems can’t wait for the new Supervisor to get up to speed. We have full time problems and need the full time dedication of your Supervisor to solve them.
What I promise to do as your Supervisor:
• I promise to be a full time Supervisor focused on the issues faced by South River constituents and Warren County.
• I promise to listen. I was a nurse. We know the importance of listening. I already have a landline in place for South River constituents to call me (540-635-2360) about issues. As supervisor I will continue getting input from our communities and residents.
• I promise to act. The EDA scandal resulted from insufficient oversight. The County and Front Royal Committee to determine the future direction of EDA must ensure proper procedures are in place to prevent misuse of our taxes. Then it has to address how to get the town and county to speak with one voice on economic development to attract new business to relocate here and existing business to expand without putting strain on our roads, schools, natural resources, and tax rates. We need a functioning EDA that supports business development but it must be both accountable and transparent.
You want change? Elect a Supervisor who has the time and motivation to do the job. I am that candidate.
Do you believe that any officials who were in office or employed as the embezzlement scandal unfolded should remain in their positions and why?
There is no one size that fits every situation, so blanket dismissal of County officials or employees who were around when the EDA scandal unfolded is inappropriate and unfair. Here’s how I break it down:
• Any officials in office or employed by the County who are found to have been involved in any aspect of the EDA embezzlement should be terminated.
• Elected officials must be asked to explain their actions and inactions regarding EDA in detail and voters will decide whether their explanations are sufficient or not.
• Appointed officials with oversight responsibilities during the EDA scandal should be asked to explain their actions and inactions to the Board of Supervisors and it will decide whether to retain them.
• County employees with oversight responsibilities for EDA or specific knowledge of criminal acts they didn’t act on should be subject to the investigative and grievance procedures applicable to their department and position.
We have to get to the bottom of the EDA scandal and punish those involved. But just like in civil and criminal trials, terminating county employees must be based on the facts and not political expediency, rumor, or innuendo.
Outside of the issues at the EDA, what is the biggest issue facing the community and how will you solve it?
The biggest issue facing Warren County, apart from the EDA scandal, is spiraling taxes that make our community less and less affordable for many residents here. We need to do a better job of retaining experienced teachers, law enforcement officers and first responders, bring cell towers and broadband service to underserved areas, strengthen programs that benefit our seniors and veterans, and maintain a full service healthcare system that includes a hospital with an intensive care unit and a Women’s Center. These needs cost money we don’t currently have without increasing taxes.
We can avoid increasing taxes if the county’s tax base is strengthened through smart economic development every business that relocates or expands here will add to our tax base. By promoting tourism, local businesses and restaurants will grow, which will add to the bottom line without residents shouldering the burden. We must also be vigilant about balancing growth and conservation.