Six candidates for four Windsor Council seats

Published 7:31 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

By Dale Wolf

Staff writer

When the year winds down, the terms of four members of the Windsor Town Council will terminate. Two of those four are running for re-election. Four new candidates have launched their own campaigns, making it six people competing for four seats. Only one candidate is running for mayor.

When two-term incumbent Patty Flemming ran for her first term, “Nobody else was running. I didn’t want somebody to be appointed. I wanted there to be a race. … It’s been like that for two terms; that’s why I ran a second time. … This year, there’s a plethora.”

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Flemming ran for office initially after repeated experiences with the cramped conditions of the Windsor Public Library. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“I had two babies living with me for two years,” said Flemming. “Every week, I went to the library’s story hour with the oldest. When it got to be 50 people or more with strollers and adults and standing room only, I would take the other baby with me outside and I would talk to the people waiting to get in. The library is so small that when they have a program, they have to close the children’s center section. Anybody who wants to get in and check out a book or use the computers or do anything other than that program has to wait.”

“I’m [part of] the Friends of the Library,” said Flemming. “I’ve been pushing to get an addition to the library. It’s extremely tiny.”

Flemming hasn’t yet obtained that addition, but she’s not giving up.

First-time candidate Carl J. “Jim” Laule Jr. knows plenty about not giving up. After six years in the Marine Corps and more than a dozen in the Coast Guard, he’s an intensely focused candidate.

“We need to take care of Windsor’s needs first,” said Laule, “like sewer projects and the public utilities department. They currently work out of a shed and they have heavy equipment sitting out in the rain. A $60,000 back hoe is not cheap, and it’s sitting out in the rain.”

Laule is a volunteer at the Isle of Wight animal shelter, and is on their approved foster list. The father of two daughters, he’s an adult volunteer with Girl Scout Troop 5102. He’s also involved with the Parent Teacher’s Association at Windsor Elementary; his wife Lynn will be president in the upcoming school year.

“I work over at the Coast Guard base and I’m involved in project program management and also configuration management,” said Laule. “Part of that involves resource allocation and trying to get things done in efficient ways. I know efficiency and government sometimes don’t mix, but [if elected I would] try to get things done in the most efficient ways possible.”

Kelly Blankenship, another first-time candidate, remembers when one aspect of Windsor was more efficient. Windsor used to have curbside recycling, but no longer does; there was a dumpster near Windsor Middle School that also went away last year. These days, people have to go to the county’s refuse and recycling centers to dispose of their recycling.

Blankenship said that the dumpster was “a good middle of the road solution. You didn’t have to keep track of what hours the dump is open or what days it’s open.” It was less of an inconvenience for folks living in town.

A Windsor resident since 1998, Blankenship has a long history of community involvement, chiefly through church. At Windsor Baptist Church, among many other things, she taught Bible school. She later moved to Westminster Reformed Presbyterian, where she continues to be active.

“I would really like to do something to encourage other people in the community to start participating in the Town Council meetings,” said Blankenship. “I think that would be really important, to try and get the citizens and the town to be more involved.”

She also praised the power of Facebook groups, expressing support for a multipronged social media strategy to increase civic engagement.

George Stubbs is plenty civically engaged; he hasn’t run for election before, but he’s been on the Planning Commission since 2005 and is a member of the Windsor Economic Development Authority.

In 2010, Stubbs retired from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a project zone manager with more than 36 years of experience. “I’m an old man,” said Stubbs. “I was born in 1944. I was raised in Suffolk. I started coming up into the Windsor, Isle of Wight area sometime in the mid-70s because I was a member of the Windsor Hunt Club. I moved up into this area in the early 80s.”

A widower with two children, Stubbs serves as a deacon at Windsor Christian Church. “I’m kind of an outspoken person,” said Stubbs. “I would like to see Windsor grow in what I consider to be a controlled manner; a lot of our citizens have moved here due to the rural environment that we have. …I would not like to see Windsor just explode in growth.”

Stubbs also speaks of the importance of fiscal responsibility. “I think we need to be good stewards of our citizens’ tax money, where we spend it, what we spend it on.”

First-time candidate J. Randy Carr is the steward of his own company. He married and moved to Windsor more than 25 years ago. He’s a contractor, the owner of Landworks Unlimited, a landscaping business founded in 2002.

“Windsor is on the growing path,” said the landscaper. Asked why he’s running for office, he replied “My family’s grown up here, my kids live here, my grandkids live here. All my closest family is right here. I don’t see myself going anywhere and I just wanted to see if I could be an asset to the town.”

“One of the biggest issues that I’m concerned about is the traffic that comes through Windsor on [Route] 460,” said Carr. “Sometimes it’s unsafe, especially with the stoplights and the tourism that comes through town. I know it’s been talked about, but that is an issue, the traffic and the safety alone, especially in the summertime,” he said.

Through living in Windsor, Carr has had the good fortune to get to know “a lot of real good people.” If elected, Carr says he wants to “be approachable and serve the town and serve the community.”

Councilman Tony Ambrose has been serving the community since he was first elected in 2014. “I’m very, very happy that we have six people running with [four] positions available,” he said. “I’m excited by that, because that proves there are people in the community that want to get involved.”

He’s seeking re-election because he finds it “fulfilling” that he can have “a little bit of a say in the direction of the town.” Right now, his number one issue is the controversial juvenile correctional facility that is being considered on county property near the town.

“If the Economic Development Authority transfers straight to the state, there’s absolutely no public hearing on it at all,” said Ambrose. “No one has a chance to speak in favor or in opposition to it. I kind of find that to be wrong, not that it’s the situation in Windsor, just the fact that it bypasses” the input of people who live in the area. “If it were in Smithfield, I would have the same issue.”

“I’m very proud of our community, how our community actually bands together to take care of one another, to assist as much as we can,” said Ambrose. “That to me is the most important thing about Windsor.”

Glyn Willis, running unopposed for mayor, knows Windsor very well. He’s Windsor born and raised, a graduate of Windsor High School who moved back home 11 years ago. He’s now in his second term on the planning commission.

“I work in the software consulting industry,” said Willis. “I’m currently a project manager for a consulting firm up in the D.C. area. …Some of the things that I anticipate that I’ll be tapping on are the skills that I have regarding organization and planning, working with people in teams to get things done.”

After living in Florida, New York, and California, Willis says he feels that he brings “a broad perspective in having been and lived in other places that have dealt with growth and culture change and that sort of stuff.”

Asked what issues he considers most important, Willis notes that some people would say the character of the town, others would talk about working with the county on the sewage system, and anybody stuck in traffic would start talking about Route 460. “I have things that are important to me,” says Willis, “but my first interest is to know what’s most important to the citizens of the town.”  {/mprestriction}