Farmers would bring good skills to board

Published 10:05 am Saturday, October 22, 2011

To the editor:

Since the Southampton County Candidate Forum sponsored by The Tidewater News, it is generally known that our county is almost $70 million in debt and the taxpayers cannot expect those who created this debt to correct it.

We have the opportunity on Nov. 8 to elect a much-needed changing of the Board of Supervisors. It is imperative that agriculture and irreplaceable productive farmland be preserved for the future. Agriculture is, after all, the No. 1 economic engine of Southampton County and Virginia!

There are two candidates with a solid background in farming: Bruce Phillips (Capron District) and Glenn Updike (Newsoms District). Farming is a business requiring the basic management skills that our county requires. Both understand the importance of agriculture to this county. We can count on them to protect the land-use program and keep development contained. All citizens benefit from and enjoy the rural atmosphere provided by farming and forestry (hunting, fishing, birding, hiking and more); many newcomers have moved here specifically to get away from urban congestion.

Barry Porter (Franklin District) put his finger on the problem: The current Board of Supervisors lacks perspective and background to evaluate complex financial issues. Porter has the experience to handle taxpayer money in a responsible, businesslike manner, having worked as financial director for Mobil Oil for many years.

Candidate Alan Edwards (Jerusalem District) has been with the county Planning Commission for more than a decade and has developed valuable insights into what this county needs and where the problems lie.

Taxpayers should ask how the county got so far in debt and why the tax rate is higher than our neighboring counties. There seems to be a mindset among most of the current Board of Supervisors that money is not a problem in this county, that they can just raise taxes. This is the problem: a tax-and-spend policy of the present board. It is very short-sighted and self-defeating. Ever wonder why businesses are not beating a path to our door? Why would a business come to Southampton with its high tax rate when taxes are lower in adjacent counties?

Southampton County residents would do well to turn out on Election Day and vote these four men (Edwards, Phillips, Porter and Updike) to the Board of Supervisors. Change is long overdue.

William H. Hancock