Surry Board of Supervisors Bacon’s Castle District candidate profile: Walter Hardy Jr.

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Editor’s note: Walter Hardy Jr. is running against Robert Chandler for the Bacon’s Castle District on Surry County’s Board of Supervisors. The Smithfield Times sent the following questionnaire to both candidates.

Age: 44

Occupation: Security supervisor at Dominion Surry power plant

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Prior elected offices held: None

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for the Board of Supervisors?

Four years ago, I ran as a write in candidate. I ran then for the same reason I’m running now, my love for Surry County and wanting to make it a better place today and for the next generation. Simply put- Progress. At times progress can seem non-existent in Surry County but we must be reminded that the wheel of progress often turns slow; the goal is to ensure the wheel of progress never stops. 

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

Without sounding to cliché, the safety and wellbeing of the citizens of Surry County is and should remain our top priority. With that said, economic development must be the next priority. Major investments are needed to broaden the tax base to help ensure critical services which directly impact the safety and wellbeing of the citizens of Surry County are properly maintained and expanded when needed. 

3. What more can Surry County do to ensure a timely response to ambulance calls?

The county has recently added an additional EMS crew to serve the citizens of the county. I commend everyone that played a part in making that happen. However, as an advocate for the Bacons Castle district, I champion the idea of us one day having our very own emergency response facility. Bacons Castle receives an enormous amount of support from the hard-working men and women of the Rushmere Vol. Fire Dept. (which is in Isle of Wight County).  As the home of Surry Power Station and a proposed new development, Bacons Castle would be a prime location for such an endeavor. While this would certainly be a long-term goal, the folks in the eastern side of the county would benefit tremendously from reduced response times.

4. Did the supervisors make the right decision in June by lowering the real estate tax rate to 71 cents per $100 in light of reassessed property values, and postponing a $4 million, two-year plan for parks and recreation improvements? Why or why not?

I applaud the compromise. Everyone got something. I am however an advocate of a world class recreational/ mixed use facility for ALL the citizens of Surry County; it’s long past due. We need a venue we can be proud of and serves the needs (and wants) of the citizens. As a county we cannot afford to continue to “kick the can down the road” and wait for the “right time”. With the ever-rising costs of construction and materials a decision will have to be made to fully commit or regroup.

5. Does Surry County contribute too little, too much, or just enough local money to its school system?

I believe the continued investment in our school system to be one of the highest priorities. There was a time when Surry schools were so poor and underfunded that citizens of the county boycotted and refused to send their children. My father Walter Norris Hardy and my uncle Thomas S. Hardy along with many citizens of the county fought tirelessly to improve the educational system in Surry County. We should not only want, but demand the best facilities, best teachers, and best leaders. Critics of the budget will cite the lower than desired student population. I say it’s time to have the conversation with parents to see what can be done to get the ever increasing home-school student population back into the schools. When people consider moving, the first stat many consider is the quality of the school system. The moment we stop investing in our schools, is the moment we stop investing in the future of Surry County.

6. Did the supervisors make the right decision in April when they amended Surry’s comprehensive plan to limit solar farms to 10% of the county’s developable land? Why or why not?

I believe the proposed 10% solar development cap to be a message to the citizens of the county from the board saying, “We hear you”. There is much distain of solar farms by many citizens in the county. I’ve always remained neutral when it comes to the solar farms. I 100% understand both sides of the pros & cons. They can be an eyesore, construction equipment ruins roadways, and I certainly wouldn’t want to live next to one. However, there’s also the case of landowner’s rights and being able to sell or lease family land which could be life changing and create generational wealth. As an employee of Dominion Energy, I would have to abstain from voting on a solar project if advised to do so by council, but it’s always important to understand everyone’s point of view. Consequently, if elected I will propose a tax credit for homeowners impacted by solar farms.

7. What can be done to reverse Surry County’s decades-long trend of declining population?

People who are looking for peace and quiet visit Surry County one time and fall in love. Surry County is a safe place and has a rural allure that can’t be denied. However, in today’s fast paced world, most people want the advantages of modern-day amenities to go along with rural mystic. We’ve made a huge stride with the availability of RuralBand internet to every household in the county as well as solving the food desert crisis with the soon to open Surry MarketPlace. We will also need housing and well-paying job opportunities to aid in the reversal of the population decline. A top-notch school system and world class recreational facilities would be an added bonus! The “population flood gates” would certainly not open all at once, but as the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.”