She agrees with columnist on muzzleloading

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To the Editor:

Great article (“Landowners’ rights should prevail in muzzleloader debate,” Jan. 13). I agree with Bob Rudzik!

The right to hunt is a landowners’ rights issue.

This one issue could be a defining moment in the history of Southampton County. Protecting and upholding the Constitution and laws of Virginia demands courage — courage to stand up to constituents, or county officials, who may suggest voting for ordinances with wording contrary to what the laws and regulations of this Commonwealth legally allow a county to regulate.

Is anyone planning to take this issue before the board at the January meeting? I have been approached, but my supervisor has already told me he will not make the motion for a public hearing! He claims to see it as a landowner’s right issue, and claims he will support it if it is brought to a vote.

If this issue receives a motion and a second, I anticipate that Supervisor Bruce Phillips may be advised to abstain from voting because of his involvement as a hunting outfitter. This direct financial gain does fit the definition of a conflict of interest under the laws of Virginia.

But should a supervisor be required to abstain from voting on a constitutionally protected issue? If Supervisor Phillips is advised to abstain from voting because of his business, shouldn’t all who own farms and/or timber businesses be required to abstain too? After all, they have the same opportunity to gain financially from having an extra deer season to lease … if they so choose.

According to the Virginia Mass Appraisal Network website, all our supervisors are landowners with total holdings as follows:

• S. Bruce Phillips—1,563.85 acres

• Alan W. Edwards—1,292.48 acres

• Glen Updike—524.47 acres

• Barry Porter—65.56 acres

• Ronald M. West—44.14 acres

• Dallas Jones—10.77 acres

• Carl Faison—3.61 acres

The landowners’ rights of everyone, including our supervisors, were compromised by the actions of our former boards. If they are not exceptionally careful, this newly seated board will slide down to the same level of constitutional infringement as the very predecessors they so eagerly campaigned to replace.

To retain the respect and good faith of the voters who elected them, the new board must correct the wrongs of previous boards. This new board promised “change” in how the county is run. Let’s see if they can handle this one.

Teresa Preston