Candidates differ on new 460

Published 10:35 am Friday, October 14, 2011

Incumbent Democrat for the 64th Distrcit Bill Barlow, from left, Rick Morris, the Republican challenger for his seat, Democrat incumbent in the 75th District Roslyn Tyler and Republican challenger Al Peschke attend a forum sponsored by the Wakefield Foundaiton Wednesday night. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

WAKEFIELD—Candidates for General Assembly seats in Western Tidewater were split on whether a new Route 460 was economically viable.

Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan for a new 55-mile expressway from Suffolk to Petersburg among topics discussed during a forum held by the Wakefield Foundation for candidates in the 64th and 75th districts Wednesday night.

Republican Rick Morris, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Bill Barlow in the 64th District, said the expressway that would traverse Wakefield and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties was viable for the port, but stressed the importance of local interchanges to help communities.

“We have to have roads,” said Morris, a military attorney from Carrollton. “We have to make sure there are proper and adequate interchanges for those local communities.”

Barlow said he is against the $1.4 to $1.8 billion expressway and especially the projected $5.50 to $11 tolls that will help pay for it.

“I’ve been fighting tolls for years,” he said.

Barlow, who is from Smithfield, said foreign companies are bidding on the project that would result in less control for the state government. He added that the road could have a negative impact on communities.

“We can’t let localities die to have this road,” Barlow said. “We have to think about the people who are involved.”

He said he would vote against spending money on the roadway.

Democrat Roslyn Tyler of Jarratt, incumbent in the 75th District, said she would make sure localities had proper interchanges.

She said tolls would cause congestion in the localities because truckers hauling freight would not use the roadway and would instead come through towns on the old route.

“I think it’s good as a hurricane evacuation route, but it’s not good for residents,” Tyler said.

Tyler would vote against an expenditure for the roadway.

Republican Al Peschke, a Wakefield tree farmer and Navy retiree who’s challenging Tyler, called the new roadway “a waste of money” and instead would like to see improvements made on the current Route 460. He said he would also vote against an expenditure for the project.

“That’s where the governor and I disagree,” Peschke said. “I don’t think this was well thought out. I think it was just thrown out there.”

Sunday hunting

Tyler and Barlow are against Sunday hunting in Virginia, while challengers Morris and Peschke favor it.

“I’m a religious person at heart, and I believe that Sunday should be a sacred day,” Tyler said.

Peschke said he doesn’t see any difference between hunting on Sundays and fishing on Sundays, and since fishing is allowed hunting should be.

“I would support it if people in my district supported it,” he said.

Barlow said he understand concerns stemming from the overpopulation of deer in the state and has no problem with extending hunting season to alleviate those concerns.

“It seems to me that killing animals on Sundays is incompatible with a sacred day,” Barlow said.

Morris said the state doesn’t restrict any other activity on Sundays except hunting, adding that not allowing hunting on Sundays discriminates against hunters.

Nepotism in constitutional offices

All the candidates supported putting a stop to nepotism within offices held by elected officials.

“It’s a complete conflict of interests,” Morris said. “We must have integrity in our elected officials.”

“It just doesn’t look right for an elected officer to have a relative working in their office,” Barlow said.

Coal-fired power plant in Sussex County

The candidates were asked about the merits of a proposed Old Dominion Electric Cooperative coal-fired power plant in Dendron.

“I’m against it,” Peschke said. “There will be heavy metals in that operation and we don’t need to poison our soil.”

Tyler said she too would vote against it, but said in addition to looking at the negative health aspects of the plant, she would also have to look at the positives, like job creation.

Barlow said it would be irresponsible to completely discount coal as an energy source, given that it produces roughly 60 percent of our power and is one of the state’s main sources of energy.

“I think coal, along with other sources of energy production, should be on the table,” Barlow said.

He said it’s important to keep energy production through coal as an option, but with strict regulations.

Morris said it’s important that the state keeps a reliable source of electricity, but said it’s also important to make sure there are proper regulations in place.

Barlow and Morris said they would both support the proposed plant.