Two contests for supervisor

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Growth, transparency and improving relationships are some of the top issues voiced by challengers for two of the three Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors seats on the ballot Nov. 5. 

Retired engineer Rick Gillerlain is challenging incumbent William McCarty for the Newport District seat. Smithfield business owner Timmie Edwards is taking on incumbent Dick Grice for the Smithfield District seat.

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Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree is unopposed for his second term. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Newport District

Gillerlain said he wants to be “the guy that listens to the voice of the people,” and doesn’t believe McCarty has done that. 

He points to McCarty’s campaign promise to hold regular town hall-style meetings. That hasn’t happened, said Gillerlain.

McCarty disagrees.

When first elected, McCarty said he and Newport School Board representative Vicky Hulick held three meetings at the Carrollton Library. However, they began attending the Isle of Wight Citizens’ Association and Carrollton Civic League monthly gatherings after residents asked them to do that in lieu of hosting another meeting they had to attend. 

McCarty, pastor of Healing Waters Worship Center, said he initiated having the Board’s meeting live streamed on Facebook, and with that format, residents can comment as it unfolds.

Gillerlain takes issue with how the comprehensive plan update has transpired and has called it “Isle 2040 on steroids.” 

Gillerlain specifically points to adding suburban residential and mixed use instead of suburban estate along Route 17 near Cedar Grove Road. 

Isle 2040 was a plan touted four years ago that expanded the Newport Development Service District to accommodate an estimated 27,000 people who would likely arrive by that date. The expansion areas included Nike Park Road, New Towne Haven Lane and Sugar Hill Road. 

The current update to the comprehensive plan does not include those areas in the Newport DSD, but does add about 1,000 acres along a narrow strip along Route 10 south toward Suffolk. Part of that expansion is to accommodate a new water line. 

Gillerlain said that folks he has talked to are concerned with the amount of growth in the northern end of Isle of Wight, with more to come as approved projects become active, as well as new applications being filed. 

“We all know growth is going to happen, but not on one end of the county,” said Gillerlain, worried that the Carrollton area will soon look like north Suffolk. Gillerlain criticized McCarty for voting in favor of expanding the number of housing units by 216 at Benn’s Grant. 

McCarty said added amenities for residents was one consideration, as was opposition to seeing it turned into commercial development, which was part of the original plan. 

There was a good deal of opposition to the plan and it passed with a 4-1 vote. Acree cast the lone dissenting vote. 

McCarty said he favors growth based on a plan and a process, as well as sunset clauses to prevent decades-old developments from unexpectedly beginning construction. 

McCarty said the Board has no power over major roads projects, such as adding lanes. McCarty said he was told that once the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel expansion is complete, it should reduce the congestion along Carrollton Boulevard in the afternoons. 

Gillerlain said his years as an engineer gives him technical expertise that he believes is lacking on the Board. His four years on the Planning Commission were also instructive. Mostly, “I want to be the guy that listens to the voice of the people,” said Gillerlain, adding that’s he’s learned a lot by going door-to-door as part of his campaign. 

In addition to getting Board meetings live-streamed on Facebook, McCarty lists several other accomplishments while on the Board, such as getting the stormwater fee reduced by 25 percent, keeping the tax rate at $.85, and changing the sign ordinance to make it easier for small businesses to advertise. Other Board accomplishments include adding five new deputies to the Carrollton area, reducing the county’s debt by $7 million, increasing the county’s bond rating, as well as its reserves, consolidating IT services with Smithfield and Windsor, and the new senior companion program. 

McCarty said his constituents should vote for him because, “I want to continue to represent them, listen to them, be open and transparent with them, which I think I have been, and work with them. I have learned so much from residents, appreciate their feedback and tried to remain calm and compassionate.”

Smithfield District

Grice is seeking a second term on the Board of Supervisors. Also running for the seat is Edwards, who said he’s not challenging Grice, rather, he’s running for the office that is available. 

“I’m running to win,” he said. 

Edwards wants to wait until the Oct. 22 debate before revealing facts about the “vision of the candidates.” 

A few items that Edwards wants to work on, if elected, is providing a “transformative experience” for residents, improving the relationship with businesses; improving water quality, maintaining the tax base, making the office more transparent, improving safety in the schools and with the general public; prioritizing needs; creating equity in hiring, promotion and salaries and not invading the property rights of residents. 

“The business community and citizens have the opportunity to change the protocol for a county native who will work on their behalf.  Your voice will be heard and reflected in the decision-making process,” said Edwards. 

Edwards pointed to the snafu over advertising a recent real estate tax increase in Smithfield, as well as signs being removed from businesses and nonprofits without notice as examples of a lack of transparency. 

However, those were actions of the Smithfield Town Council, not the Board of Supervisors, which are two separate governing bodies. 

When asked about the difference between the two, Edwards said, “Are you talking about the Town of Smithfield? That’s what I’m running for.”

Edwards said voters should cast their ballot for him because he’s the best qualified candidate for the job.”

Grice said he’s been walking neighborhoods in the district and has noticed a lack of knowledge about the difference between the Board of Supervisors and the Smithfield Town Council. 

Grice said he’s had to explain what the Board is responsible for as opposed to the Town Council. 

The Board funds the school system, courts, portions of the Sheriff’s Office, refuse and recycling centers, stormwater management, among other responsibilities. 

Grice, a retired businessman, counts as Board accomplishments the upgrade of the Jones Creek refuse and recycling center, with Wrenn’s Mill being next; restructuring the debt and increasing the amount of reserves to 20 percent of the operating budget, an increase in the county’s credit rating and increasing the number of Commission for Aging events from three to five. 

Grice was also instrumental in starting task forces for water and sewer, the Blackwater property and a committee for stormwater. The water and sewer task force resulted in a deal with Smithfield to swap water in a way to benefit both localities, and the Blackwater Task Force came up with a plan to allow for public use of the publicly-owned property. 

The stormwater committee has crafted a white paper to take to the Virginia Association of Counties to address legislative support for the orphan outfall drainage issue, said Grice. 

Grice is also an advocate for a seven-member Board. Currently it has five members, but a 3-2 vote can carry an issue. 

“Three people should not have as much power as we have.” That’s not the way it should be,” he said.

The number of Board members was a contentious issue after the 2010 U.S. Census. With the 2020 census just around the corner, the issue is likely to arise again.  

Grice believes he should be re-elected because he has the financial and managerial skills, as well as business savvy to look at issues from another perspective. 

Grice said he’s frugal with his own money and that spills over into his work as supervisor.

“I’m pretty tight with my money and I’m pretty tight with the taxpayers’ as well, and have demonstrated that over the past four years,” he said.  


Candidate forums

Three candidate forums are scheduled for the upcoming Nov. 5 general election. The Isle of Wight School Board candidate forum is Wednesday, Oct. 16 at The Smithfield Center; the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors forum is Tuesday, Oct. 22, at The Smithfield Center; and state level Senate and Delegate candidates on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the Windsor Town Center. The doors open each evening at 5:45 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. Residents will be able to submit questions to candidates and the events end by 9 p.m. The forums are sponsored by the Isle of Wight Citizens’ Association, the Isle of Wight NAACP, the Carrollton Civic League and the Southern and Central Isle of Wight Citizens’ Group. {/mprestriction}