Smithfield Town Council Election 2022: Jeff Brooks
Published 8:32 pm Monday, September 26, 2022
Jeff Brooks 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?
I love the commonwealth of Virginia, raised in Richmond, graduated college here and lived 31 years in Virginia Beach. I’m a semiretired business owner and have the time to give back to my community. I have no business/financial interests in the Town of Smithfield for personal gains. I understand when to invest in a business or project for the right reasons and when not to spend frivolously. I feel I can be a breath of fresh air into our local leadership. I also see all the fast-pace changes and development going up around us and want to ensure that with changes we still maintain that small-town feel.
2. What should be Smithfield’s top priority right now?
I believe that our town needs to proactively and responsibly handle future development as it’s happening very quickly. I do realize this is going on in our neighboring counties and cities, but I wouldn’t like us to be an extension of this so that we can preserve our small-town charm. I am by no means opposed to development, but what I’m seeing around is unprecedented. Council has the final say on these matters.
3. What’s one thing you’d like to see change in terms of Smithfield’s town government?
Transparency and accessibility. I would like to see all public town meetings be streamed live so every town citizen has the ability to see and hear for themselves what is being discussed and how Town Council members contribute to these discussions.
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?
No. Currently the farmers market is debt-free. Last year’s sales contributed only roughly $30,000 of revenue for the town. The estimation of cost is $1.35 million from BOTH the town and county at this point. This amount is an estimate of actual costs, which may be exceeded. The town would then need to cover costs for upkeep, maintenance, cleaning, accounting tasks, payroll, etc., so the amount to taxpayers will be much higher and there are a lot of questions since we haven’t seen a formal proposal from the developers. I do look forward to additional restaurants, lodging and shops for us but believe this should be funded by the businesses themselves and not the town.
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?
This project does need to be completed and is partially in place. I’d rather see the town complete it versus dipping into the coffer of other projects at a later date. If we are dedicated to making the town pedestrian/bicycle-friendly, then this is the way to do it.
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?
This is a good question. I believe we should make the reduction permanent. People like to know what they are and how much they are spending. If things change in the future it can be addressed then, but I would like to see a decision made on this issue soon.
7. Should Smithfield decommission or restore the town-owned Smithfield Lake Dam?
This dam serves the town and county very well and needs to be restored to bring us up to code and reduce the possibility of the dam failing. It is a recreational gem for residents for fishing and a peaceful place to enjoy the outdoors. I actually go there. More importantly it is crucial to the county and town as a water source for filling firefighting tankers as mentioned by fire chiefs of the town and county. This will be money well spent.