Supervisor candidates – Capron District
Published 1:45 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Two men seek the office of supervisor for the Capron District in Southampton County. The Tidewater News asked them the following questions: 1. Full name and district you are running in. 2. What qualities and experience do you possess that make you a good candidate for a seat on the Board of Supervisors? 3. What are the most pressing issues facing the Board of Supervisors, and what would you propose to specifically address those issues? 4. What do you see as the greatest opportunities for economic growth in Southampton County, and what specifically would you propose to take advantage of those opportunities?
1. William Hart Gillette — Capron District
2. My best quality is loving God, Susan and our children. I have a sense of humor that helps me at all times, and when I start something, I stick with it.
My work history involves a broad spectrum of agencies within the state – corrections, higher education (VA Tech & VA State), the General Assembly, Governor’s Budget Office, House Appropriations and Senate Finance and county government. In 2007, I was blessed with receiving the Unsung Hero Award from VCU School of Government and the Governor’s Award for Efficiency in State Government. I mention these only to emphasize that I like finding new solutions to old problems. I also worked locally to help start a non-profit, VA Hound Heritage, and work in Ruritans, the church, hunt clubs and with landowners.
3. There are many pressing issues, but the overriding ones are fiscal responsibility and really listening to the constituents. Southampton County also needs creative and new ideas to the challenge of growth. We have a wealth of talent in Southampton County — we need to use it. Our residents are taxed enough. High taxes and a history of raising them often drive business away.
4. The greatest opportunities for economic growth lie on the very valuable access to the Route 460 and 58 corridors. Once the house is in order within, then opportunities outside will be attracted. The county grows by the government getting smaller — it has to or it will be growing in the wrong direction. When the Board has worked inside to create trust, then people will help people — that involves all departments within the county — let them be a part of it — innovation everywhere is essential.
1. My name is S. Bruce Phillips for the Capron District.
2. The quality of character I strive for is to be a servant of the people. I represent the citizens of Capron district by addressing the concerns they present to the board and to me. I return calls and listen to what concerns them, and study the issues thoroughly. As a board member I represent the voters of the Capron district and advocate for their concerns, but I also represent the whole county at the same time. My main concern is the county and a vision for the future as put forward by the Comprehensive plan and the county code and the laws of Virginia, all of which we have sworn to uphold.
Currently serving on the Southampton County Board of Supervisors; the Southampton Planning Commission liaison from BOS; the Southampton County Farm Bureau Board of Directors; Virginia Farm Bureau Forestry Committee; Sebrell Civic Club; vice chairman of Courtland Baptist Church Deacons; and volunteers monthly for Social Services food distribution. My desire to serve on the BOS is, I believe, reflected in my service in the community, the county and the church. I love this county and it is my belief that we can make it a better place to live and work.
3. The tax rate is of concern to the farmer and the homeowner, and there is a strong possibility that it will continue to go up because the real estate tax is our primary source of revenue for the county. The higher the real estate taxes are, it becomes less likely that new business will locate in the county. We have to overcome the reputation that Southampton County is closed to new business to gain some relief from higher taxes. We have to have new business.
The courthouse renovations are the next most pressing issue facing the BOS. The BOS and the Franklin City Council have to determine what contractor can bring our courthouse into compliance with the state code as it deals with courthouses.
Solar development in Southampton County is potentially a long-term issue for the county. Southampton Solar now occupies approximately l percent of the farm land in the county. This project receives an 80 percent discount on its tools and machinery tax through an ordinance enacted by the state legislature in the 1970s to incentivize companies to put in pollution controls for emissions. If this ordinance was allowed to expire and not renewed, this would only apply to projects in the future. The rural counties hosting these solar facilities could certainly use this money for schools and maybe a courthouse.
A term that most of us have heard is revenue sharing as practiced by Southampton County and the City of Franklin. Each locality supplies a service or a location then the two localities share tax dollars on a percentage basis. What I’m hoping is that rural counties would petition to get a share of the tax dollars from the huge investments in other counties that companies such as Facebook or Amazon are making in Virginia, while the rural counties are hosting the utility scale solar facilities that generate the green energy they are seeking. I will advocate for both of these items on behalf of rural counties that are hosting utility scale solar facilities. It could make a huge difference in the rural counties’ bottom line and long-term capital improvements.
4. The greatest opportunity that I see for the county is a BOS that has the vision to see that there are parcels of land with different acreages that are zoned for commercial development in locations with transportation links and with the utilities that business developers require. The BOS can also aid this process by allowing owners of these desirable properties to keep their land in land-use tax [category] at a lower use value until the use actually changes. These preparatory steps will allow the county to have a supply of available property that the county does not have to own. With these hurdles removed, the county will be close to having what is called shovel-ready sites that are preferred by business. This model would save the county millions and show that we are open for business. I appreciate the opportunity to have served this county and I look forward to the comments that anyone may have.