Smithfield Town Council Election 2022: Carter Williams

Published 8:28 pm Monday, September 26, 2022

Carter Williams is one of five candidates running for four available seats on Smithfield’s Town Council in the Nov. 8 election. The Smithfield Times asked each candidate to answer seven questions.

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for office?

Simply put, I love Smithfield. It is a special place, and I consider it a privilege and duty to make it the best possible place to live, work and visit. Over the course of my tenure as council member and mayor, I’ve enjoyed getting to know our citizens, listening to their concerns, and helping to resolve issues by working with the Town Council and staff. It’s my desire to do all that I can to help our residents and businesses prosper.

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2. What should be Smithfield’s top priority right now?

Just like so many businesses who are struggling to hire enough employees to operate efficiently, the town is currently severely understaffed. It is important that we have enough personnel on hand to serve the needs of the citizenry and, given that many of those shortages are in the police department, to keep Smithfield safe. There are vacancies that we have been unable to fill for nearly a year. Our town staff is filled with hard workers, but without the right number of employees, the resulting strain on the system means that we cannot serve Smithfield as well as we would like.

3. What’s one thing you’d like to see change in terms of Smithfield’s town government?

Beyond our difficulties in hiring staff to fulfill our obligations to our citizens, I am satisfied with Smithfield’s town government. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and I welcome input from our citizens anytime.

4. Should Smithfield contribute money to the building of a new farmers market building at former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph W. Luter III’s proposed “Grange at 10Main” development at Route 10 and Main Street?

The Farmers Market is a local favorite which draws people from around Smithfield and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, because the town does not own the property where the Farmers Market is currently held, there is always the possibility that we may not be able to use that property in the future, and at this time there is no other suitable place for the Farmers Market to go. Our lease on the property that is used now ends in March 2023. While we’ve met with the property owners earlier this year to discuss continuing that lease, we haven’t been able to further our negotiations since that time. We could only obtain previous leases by putting up monies for property improvements. By contributing to a new, purpose-made building, the town would be able to secure the market’s future in a way that we simply can’t do now.

5. How big of a priority do you consider the completion of Smithfield’s town-funded portion of the park-to-park bicycle and pedestrian trail, and how much local money should be put toward the project?

I certainly support a much-needed widening of South Church Street, including the completion of a multipurpose path, however, I don’t consider this project Smithfield’s top priority at the moment. I and other town officials have been working through VDOT’s Smart Scale program, which helps prioritize transportation projects in the commonwealth of Virginia. The indications are good that we will be able to secure the appropriate statewide funding to be able to complete this project.

6. Should Smithfield make the temporary 13-cent car tax rate reduction it adopted in June permanent, reduce the rate further, or restore it to the prior year’s rate of $1 per $100?

I support the council’s decision to restore the prior year’s rate as agreed. However, when the issue comes up for discussion again when it expires in June, if reelected, I will consider all the factors in my decision to extend the reduction.

7. Should Smithfield decommission or restore the town-owned Smithfield Lake Dam?

There are multiple pros and cons to either decommissioning or restoring the Smithfield Lake Dam. We have been working with an engineering firm to advise us of how either decision would impact the environment, the town’s budget and general quality of life. They have not yet completed that analysis. Until I have all the information, I do not believe it is wise to make a decision one way or the other.